CNN anchor Anderson Cooper conducted a five-minute long interview of Diane Elder, a woman who decided to let her infant daughter live despite her severe genetic defects, during his program on Tuesday evening. The interview came about after Elder wrote Cooper after watching a similar interview he conducted the previous night of Lynda Waddington, a “pro-choice” blogger for the Huffington Post and RH Reality Check, who decided to have a late-term abortion herself (the anchor did not mention Waddington’s left-wing affiliations during the interview). (audio clips from the interview available here)
On Wednesday afternoon, the network’s “Situation Room” program played an extended clip from the interview, which followed an additional segment with a different parent whose twins were aborted late-term at the hands of murdered abortionist George Tiller. During this second interview, the father of the twins described how Tiller had the two babies “wrapped up in a baby’s blanket” and how the abortionist “baptized them.” Despite the two-to-one imbalance in the segments, CNN did at least try to balance the segments with the two supporters of late-term abortion with that of the interview of Elder.
During the interview with Cooper, Elder described her experiences during the four months after she found out that her daughter had Trisomy 18, a severe genetic disorder, and during the half-day that she shared with her daughter, whom she named Angela. Despite all the hardships that she and her family endured, Elder recounted how after her daughter was born, “we were very taken aback when we found that, when she was placed in our arms, we were happy. We were- we were incredibly happy. And my husband was with me. A lot of family and friends showed up right after the birth. She was passed around from arm to- from arms to arms.” Cooper dealt with the subject very sensitively, and thanked her for her strength at the end of the interview.
The full transcript of Cooper interview’s interview of Diane Elder, which began 20 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of Tuesday’s “Anderson Cooper 360” program:
ANDERSON COOPER: Diane Elder chose not to have an abortion, even though, medically and legally, she had every right to. She joins us now, and Diane, thanks so much for being with us. You actually sent me an e-mail earlier today because of- of an interview you read that we had on last night. We had a woman on who, in the 20- 20th or 21st week, chose to have a late-term abortion, because her baby had a severe- severe genetic defect. You had a similar situation. You made a different choice. Why?
DIANE ELDER, CHOSE NOT TO HAVE LATE-TERM ABORTION: Because I wanted my baby to have a natural death. I did not want my child to die at my hands. She-
COOPER: What did your baby have?
ELDER: My baby had a- had a syndrome called Trisomy 18, which is a very severe chromosomal abnormality that is incompatible with life. That’s what -- that’s the phrase doctors used to me.
COOPER: And you found this out what- at what stage of the pregnancy?
ELDER: I was somewhere in the fifth month of pregnancy.
COOPER: And, obviously, I mean, it’s devastating news.
ELDER: It was devastating. I found out on Mother’s Day, and all I can remember is collapsing to the floor, because I had been trying for this baby for a very long time. So, it felt like a cruel- almost a cruel joke to me that this happened. And so, I- I went forward with the pregnancy another four months, probably the most difficult four months of my life. We were prepared for basically a- a monster, because we were told she was going to not have a brain, and she was going to have possibly cleft palate, club feet, and she was born with all those things. She was born missing part of her brain. She had one club foot, one rocker-bottom foot. She had just everything that goes along with that condition, which is- is bad.
But we were very taken aback when we found that, when she was placed in our arms, we were happy. We were- we were incredibly happy. And my husband was with me. A lot of family and friends showed up right after the birth. She was passed around from arm to- from arms to arms. I told the hospital I did not want any extraordinary measures taken, because I wanted what happened to her to be natural. I didn’t want to try to- to force her to stay alive with needles and tubes, if that would cause her pain and just prolong a very difficult life. But I didn’t want to kill her either. So, I just decided to completely turn myself over to nature and let it take its course, and the resolution was really a very good resolution. She- she never suffered.
COOPER: How long did she live?
ELDER: Twelve hours. The nurse woke me up at 5 am, and said, ‘Diane, I think you might want to get up now. The baby’s having trouble breathing, and this might be her time, and she put Angela into my arms.
COOPER: You named her?
ELDER: Yes, Angela- Angela Diane Elder, and Angela looked- it was funny, because she was able to make eye contact with me, and it seemed as though she were looking into my eyes. I could hear her breath becoming more and more shallow, sort of a rattling breath, and then she took two large breaths, and then a very large breath, literally sat up, and then fell back, and she was gone. And it was a very difficult moment, even at this time.
COOPER: Do you- do you regret it, looking back on it?
ELDER: Not in one- not one minute of it. She died peacefully, with no pain. The suffering was ours. For two weeks, of course, at least two weeks, really a whole year, we were in mourning for her, as you would grieve over any loved one who dies. That’s a normal part of life. You can’t get away from the fact that- that people die and people get sick, and they die. And- but we felt very clean when it was over, and- and as though the situation was- there was closure. There was a resolution, and-
COOPER: Obviously, other women, other families in that situation make different choices.
COOPER: Do you believe that- that women should have the right to make that choice?
ELDER: When a baby is a fully formed, living baby, I don’t think that, really, we have ever had the choice to- to take a life at that stage. I think that- that’s a -- that’s a fully-formed baby. I mean, I think you had some of the pictures up there, and you saw her. She’s a fully-formed baby. She was born early, by the way. She came out at eight months.
COOPER: And, when you heard about Dr. Tiller’s death, your thought?
ELDER: Oh, I think that was awful. No one has the right to do that, particularly not someone who considers themselves to be an advocate for life. How can they take another life? It’s inexcusable.
COOPER: Well, I- I appreciate you coming on and talking about this. I know it’s not easy, and I appreciate you writing the e-mail to me and- and that we were able to have you on today. Thank you very much.
ELDER: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Thanks. Thanks for your strength.
ELDER: All right.