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Mother, 32, told to carry 'dead' fetus for 18 weeks gets an abortion

Kentucky mother-of-three, 32, who was told to carry fetus ‘with no a brain’ for 18 weeks slams state lawmakers for restrictive abortion ban saying they have ‘never had to go through hell’

  • Heather Maberry, 32, said the news her daughter was not viable was the ‘worst’
  • She was forced to travel 300 miles to Chicago to terminate the pregnancy
  • READ MORE: Former Ms. South Carolina had to carry an unviable fetus 

A woman from Kentucky who was told to carry a fetus ‘with no brain’ for 18 weeks has slammed the state’s male-dominated legislature as being out of touch.

The fetus was diagnosed with anencephaly, a condition where the brain and parts of the skull do not form properly – and it cause death at birth or the first few days of life.

Heather Maberry, 32, said that lawmakers behind its abortion ban — one of the most restrictive in the country — simply ‘do not know how it feels’ to hear the worst news an expectant mother could face.

‘They are never going to have to carry a child. They are never going to have to be in that position,’ she said. ‘They are never gonna be the one that was carrying that baby and had to go through hell.’

Ms Maberry — who used to be anti-abortion — was forced to travel 300 miles out of state to Chicago for $7,000 after being told her baby, who she named Willow, was non-viable and didn’t have a brain.

Heather Maberry, 32, was told that her daughter Willow was not viable because she had anencephaly, where the brain fails to develop properly

She opted to terminate the pregnancy rather than carry the baby to term for another 18 weeks only for the child (pictured) to die but was told to travel out of state for the procedure 

Ms Maberry explained to ABC News that before the experience, she did not believe in abortion for herself but was not against others having terminations.

She told a local publication: ‘They [the legislators] do not know how it feels to carry a child, to have someone tell you the most devastating news of your life, and then say I can’t even hold her.

‘They have stolen that from me.’

Former Ms. South Carolina forced to carry unviable fetus for seven weeks 

Jill Hartle, 35, said it felt like a ‘dagger to the heart’ every time strangers would approach her and say she ‘looked amazing’ and asking when the baby was due. 

Kentucky was the first state to make abortion virtually impossible in April last year and force all clinics to close.

The state legislature — where 107 out of 138 members are men — enacted a law banning all terminations after 15 weeks but also put onerous requirements on clinics — such as issuing birth-death certificates — that forced their closure.

There is a loophole allowing abortions in cases when there is no fetal heartbeat after six weeks, but doctors said this would not help Ms Maberry because her nonviable baby still had a heartbeat. Nearly half of US states have enacted limits on abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June last year. 

In Ms Maberry’s case, she had been excited to try for another child with her husband Nick after tying the knot last year.

She first fell pregnant in October 2022, but suffered a miscarriage before finding out she was pregnant again just two days before Christmas.

‘We were super excited,’ she said, ‘but we were also very nervous because we had just lost a baby. So, we just kept trying to take care of me the best we could’.

The pregnancy was complicated, with Ms Maberry developing hyperemesis gravidarum — a severe type of nausea and vomiting — in the early stages.

She was put on medications to help ease this and they then found out she was pregnant with her fourth girl, who they named Willow.

It was shortly afterward, however, that doctors diagnosed her daughter with anencephaly, a serious condition where major sections of the brain and skull have not developed.

It is caused by the neural tube — the pre-cursor to the brain and spinal cord — failing to close properly around 23 to 26 days after conception. Estimates suggest that about one in 4,600 babies in the United States have the condition.

Dr Sadia Haider, an obstetrician at Rush University Medical Center, said: ‘In this scenario, it’s irrelevant whether there’s a heartbeat or not.

‘Anencephaly basically means there’s no brain, essentially like no neurologic development, which is essential for survival.’

She said the fetus would die during birth or shortly after childbirth.

The fetus was diagnosed with anencephaly, a condition where the brain and parts of the skull do not form properly – and it cause death at birth or the first few days of life

Ms Maberry is pictured above with her husband Nick. She was excited to have another child with him

When she was told the devastating news, Ms Maberry said it felt like she was living the ‘worst nightmare a mother could imagine’.

After a discussion with her husband, she said she only wanted to get the chance to kiss her daughter on the forehead and bury her quietly.

But because of Kentucky’s laws, doctors said she would have to carry the fetus to full term unless she headed out of state for an abortion.

‘The only option I had here was to continue carrying her with the same outcome for another, you know, 17 or 18 weeks,’ she said.

‘I said: ‘I physically can’t and mentally can’t continue carrying her knowing that she’s never gonna breathe, we’re never going to have a life with her’.

‘So, we came to the decision that we were going to try to get an abortion.’

She was linked up to the National Abortion Hotline, which referred her to a clinic in Chicago for the procedure. 

She was quoted $3,300 for the termination, but she would also need to cover the cost of flights for herself and her husband, food, and accommodation. 

This was when the hotline stepped in to help offset the expenses, which Ms Maberry said could easily have topped $7,000 without them.

Describing her position on abortion now, she said: ‘There’s so much involved in choosing to continue with the pregnancy, choosing to go through the delivery as far as like physically, emotionally and otherwise.

‘Allowing patients to have a choice in how long they have to continue this for — given the negative outcome that they’re gonna face — is really important.’

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