News / Hetero
At First It Was Hard To Feel Sorry For Them
by Dan Savage
on Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 7:58 AM
Thomas and Amanda Stansel were having trouble conceiving so they opted to undergo fertility treatments. Hospitals, doctors, hormone shots, sperm injected directly into Mrs. Stansel's uterus. And Mrs. Stansel wound up pregnant—with six fetuses. Their doctors urged them to "reduce," or selectively abort, some of the fetuses or risk losing them all. It was hard to feel sorry for them when I read this...
The Stansels rejected Dr. Grunert’s advice and, since then, their vision of a family has collapsed into excruciating loss: the deaths of four children after their premature births on Aug. 4, including one who died late Sunday night. The two other infants remain in neonatal intensive care, their futures uncertain.
“I feel like we bonded with all of them, the short time they were here,” Mr. Stansel said. “We were able to hold them before they passed away.”
And it was really hard to feel sorry for them when I flipped the paper over and saw the picture of the Stansels that was under the fold: they're posing with the casket containing the remains of three of their children—and they couldn't look more pleased with themselves. And then I read the rest of the story and I wanted to kill the Stansels with my bare hands...
When Dr. Grunert discovered that Mrs. Stansel was carrying multiple fetuses, he handicapped her odds of delivering six healthy infants at practically zero. Eliminating some of the fetuses would give the others the best chance for survival....
For the Stansels, the decision was influenced by their membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church generally opposes abortion. After learning that Mrs. Stansel was carrying sextuplets, the Stansels decided to meet with church elders and consult with a reduction specialist.
“It just never felt right,” Mr. Stansel said. “We prayed many nights. A lot of sleepless nights. Originally we thought we might do the reduction. We chose to carry all six and, we believe, let God do what he’s going to do.”
What? If you were gonna let God do what He's going to do, you shouldn't have sought out fertility treatments. Here's what God was gonna do: God was gonna make you infertile. God did that, actually, and then you thwarted God's plan for you—that you be infertile—and availed yourselves of the latest medical technologies and sought the help fertility specialists. Then you ignored the advice of your doctors and refused to reduce the number of fetuses you were carrying and now four premature infants have died in great pain and two more will very likely die—but, hey, you'll get another smug, self-satisfied, just-letting-God-do-what-he's-gonna-do photo op out of it, so it's not a total loss. And it's all material for the blog you're writing about "your journey," and there'll probably be a book deal in it for you when it's all over ("Thom & Amanda Minus 6").
Mrs. Stansel delivered the sextuplets on Aug. 4, about 14 weeks premature. The babies were born so early that no medical care would have been rendered unless the parents requested it.
Dr. Jarriel, the neonatologist, said the survival rate of babies at the stage they were born was about 60 percent to 65 percent. If they survived, the Stansels were told, there was a 100 percent chance that they would have problems. But the couple asked the hospital for the most extraordinary measures to save them.
“We wanted to do all we could for them, to save them,” Mr. Stansel said.
“Give them that chance,” Mrs. Stansel added. “That’s the doctors giving their statistics. God doesn’t work in statistics.”
Four of their six babies are now dead. So it looks like God does work in statistics after all—if He didn't, Mrs. Stansel, then the world would be an entirely random/miraculous place and we wouldn't be able to make any predictions about anything and there wouldn't be stats about anything. Jesus.