The time is April, 1988. Three months have passed since the Supreme Court struck down the 20-year old federal law on abortion.
In Great Britain, surgeons implant cells from an aborted baby in the brain of patient with Parkinson’s disease.
In the U.S., Milwaukee pro-lifers discover that a crematorium at a pet cemetery is being used to incinerate aborted children.
In the Maritimes, Henry Morgentaler eyes Halifax to set up another outlet of his country-wide abortuary chain.
But on the other side of the country, in Surrey, B.C., when doctors press them to abort their 23-week old son Paul, Mary Lou and Maurice Hamoline resolve to give him a chance at birth and life.
“My husband and I created this life together. It’s not something you just throw away,” she told The Interim.
“I remember one doctor said to us in the beginning, how hard the next six months would be if we had the baby. He asked my husband and me if we thought it would be worth it. We did, and now we have one son,” recalled the mother of three other boys, ages 6, 4, and 2.
Complications began shortly after conception. Mary Lou spend two months confined to bed, but in the last week of April – more than three months before Paul was due – Maurice rushed his haemorrhaging wife to hospital.
For a week both Mary Lou and Paul faced death – she from loss of blood, he at the hands of the doctors.
They filled the parents’ ears with warnings about miscarriages and the zero to five per cent survival rate of premature babies.
“I was supposed to have had a pro-life gynaecologist. When I ran into real problems a week before Paul was born, my husband called this doctor and said, ‘Look, she’s bleeding. Can we get her into Grace [Hospital]?’ And basically he said 23 weekers don’t live. His underlying message was that there was no hope,” she said.
The Hamolines knew what the doctor’s words implied. For Mary Lou’s pregnancy to be ‘successful’, little Paul Hamoline would have to die. This they could not accept.
The 1 lb., 7 oz. son who arrived April 30 in the problem births unit of Vacouver’s Grace Hospital was the reward of the Hamoline’s perseverance. They had to fight for their boy’s life. When Mary Lou was too weak and despondent to prod the doctors into allowing a caesarean delivery,” He saved our lives,” the 32 year-old mother gratefully recalled.
Since then, Mary Lou has been concerned about parents intimidated by doctors into abortion. “What’s really ironic about it – what if that was somebody else whose husband didn’t have the courage and faith to fight like my husband did,” she wonders?
For the next 5 ½ months, the Hamolines’ lives were a roller-coaster ride of near tragedy and triumph. “It was very trying and stressful, but we couldn’t have done it without faith,” Mary Lou admitted.
She developed a uterine infection and recovered. In Vancouver’s Children’s Hospital where he went shortly after birth, Paul twice faced surgery – the first time to close a valve between his heart and lungs, the second to correct a double hernia. With their son hovering near death, the Hamolines had to face the terrible question, “Would they allow passive euthanasia?”
“The answer was we would keep him on the life-support system, no matter what,” Mary Lou said. “God knew that Paul was going to come as early as he did and that technology was going to take over his functions for the time being. We would entrust Paul totally to God.”
October 12, 1988. On the same day that the B.C. government said it would not block the opening of an abortion ‘clinic’ in Vancouver, husky 8 l., 7 oz. Paul left Children’s Hospital in the arms of his mother. It was only the seventh time Mary Lou had carried the baby she and Maurice had come to believe was not really their son but God’s.