Erin Dinan, her husband Mike, and her son Petrus were at an appointment to find out the sex of their second child when her doctor told her the fetus had trisomy 18, also known as Edwards’ syndrome, and that it had a very small chance of surviving post-birth. Dinan decided to have an abortion. Here’s what her life has looked like since.
When Erin Dinan and her husband Mike found out that she was expecting their second child, they couldn’t have been more excited. They already had a seven-year-old son, Petrus, who had been asking for a sibling for a while. They were homeowners, they had friends in the area with kids, and their son loved his school and soccer program. They felt it was “perfect timing.”
Dinan was in her very early 30s when the three of them arrived at her doctor’s office to find out the sex of the new baby. Suddenly, the nurse went to get the doctor, and Dinan’s husband escorted their son out of the room.
According to Dinan’s physician, there was an issue with the fetus; it had trisomy 18, also known as Edwards’ syndrome. This is a chromosome disorder characterized by having three copies of chromosome 18 instead of the usual two copies. It can lead to myriad abnormalities in many parts of the body.
In Dinan’s case, the fetus had holes in its skull and abdomen, and in some places, her doctor said that “organs were coming out of him.”
The fetus had a very small chance of surviving post-birth, which isn’t atypical for babies diagnosed with Edwards’ syndrome. In fact, only 50% of fetuses with the condition who are carried to term will be born alive, and about 90% to 95% of these babies do not survive beyond the first year. Many only live a few days.
At this point, Dinan was about 20 to 21 weeks pregnant, and by her twenty-second week, she decided to have an abortion.
“After going over the abortion process with my doctor, I felt that it was the most humane thing to do for the baby,” she said. Dinan says she also spoke with her sister and her sister’s husband, both PhDs at Yale University, about her options.
Although they were heartbroken over the abortion, Dinan and her husband Mike did not give up on expanding their family, especially since their son was grieving.
She became pregnant again shortly after, and her son got his wish: a sibling. Dinan now has a 14-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter named Lonan.
Speaking about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that established a woman’s right to have an abortion nationwide, Dinan said she’s scared.
“I just feel like specific people are trying to take over and control women and minorities; it’s scary,” she said. This is part of the reason why she got involved with organizations such as Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, which her doctor connected her with. She’s since testified before the Virginia General Assembly and shared her story.
This was an eye-opening experience. There were several times, Dinan says, where a woman next to her, who worked in the medical field, said that the people who were testifying against abortion rights were flat-out lying about the details of these bills. This is why Dinan says it’s important to gather as much information on the procedure as possible, if you’re considering it, and to talk to people “who know what they’re talking about,” such as doctors.
“Be cautious about who you listen to,” she said.
Dinan now lives in Richmond with her husband and two children. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, Dinan is an artist with over 15 years of experience in fine arts and commission-based painting. She “enjoys the challenge of combining the patron’s vision with her strong, expressionistic style in commissioned work.” She also says that life wouldn’t be the same if she hadn’t had her abortion in her early 30s. Specifically, she wouldn’t have her daughter, whom she described as “amazing.”