In January of 2010, my husband and I were sitting in a doctor’s office examination room practically giddy with glee. Five minutes earlier, we had found out we were having a son (a son!), and now we were attempting to agree on a baby name, discuss what his nose would look like, and text everyone we knew all at the same time. We were getting pretty far into our list too because the ultrasound tech had disappeared to find the doctor after having some “trouble visualizing the baby’s heart,” but who cared! We were having a son, and he was bound to be made of awesome!
And then the doctor arrived. And we found out our son had a heart defect, the worst one you can have. We went through all kinds of tests to figure out if he was a candidate for surgery. A few weeks later, we lost him.
We lost him.
That’s what I told almost everyone when they asked. It’s what I told my family because they’re very religious and were encouraging me to pray for a miracle. But the truth is, we were given a choice: we could terminate the pregnancy at that time or I could give birth to a baby, only to have him die in my arms. We’d have him for a few hours or a few days, but since his heart couldn’t pump blood on its own, he’d slowly turn blue and it would be like drowning but without the water.
It didn’t feel like much of a choice.
At the time, I was about 21 weeks. Most anatomy scans happen around 19-20 weeks, and all the extra tests to determine he wasn’t a candidate for surgery took some time. The current federal cut off for abortions is 24 weeks, a time when the fetus could survive outside of the mother’s body.
When people like Trump and Pence talk about pushing that limit back to 20 weeks, all I can think of is the women who will be in my position and be forced to carry a baby to term so they can watch it die. All I can think is, that could have been me. And I can tell you, I wouldn’t have survived it. I barely survived it as it was. It took therapy and lots of support from family and friends. If I had been made to have that baby, I honestly believe I would have taken my own life.
Please don’t let this happen to other women. If you’re wondering how common stories like this are, 88% of abortions occur during the first trimester and only about 1% occur after 20 weeks. Women aren’t using late term abortions as birth control. No one is having babies ripped out of their uteruses. Many of these women have painted nurseries, have felt their babies kick, have named them. These are heart-wrenching decisions best made individually by families, not by politicians.
If you hear about a 20 week ban (and these bans do not generally allow exceptions for fatal birth defects, in case you’re wondering), either at the state or national level, please think of stories like mine and call your representatives in protest.
Please protest the proposed 6-week abortion ban in Ohio: https://www.romper.com/p/how-to-protest-ohios-proposed-6-week-abortion-ban-24393
If you genuinely care about reducing abortion rates (which I do – abortions are hard on women, both physically and mentally), please do it by supporting better birth control access and health care coverage, by supporting better sex education.
Please don’t let a man who appears to lack basic knowledge of the female reproductive system make decisions that reduce women to child-bearing livestock.
And please give love and support to any women around you who might be making hard decisions. You might be the person that makes all the difference.