|Do any of you have these billboards in|
your town? Whenever I see one, I
don't know what to think...
Dear Governors and Legislators,
My state was the first of a handful of states to enact a so-called "20 week abortion ban." I am from Grand Island, Nebraska, where I live with my husband Robb and our beautiful son.
Because lawmakers in my home state of Nebraska passed a sweeping abortion ban similar to legislation poised to pass in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, and beyond, my family's personal loss a year and a half ago became a nightmare. You cannot imagine what we went through.
I implore you to read my story.
In August 2010, I was overjoyed to discover I was pregnant. My husband and I still wanted nothing more than to give my son a brother or sister. For weeks, my pregnancy was proceeding normally. But then 22 weeks into my pregnancy, it went terribly wrong.
On Saturday, November 27, my water broke and there was not enough amniotic fluid for my daughter to survive. This was heartbreaking. If there was anything we could have done to save her, we would have.
What happened next should have remained a very private decision between me and my family and my doctors. As the result of a law similar to a bill considered by your state's legislature, a decision that should have remained mine and my husband's at a very difficult time was decided for us -- and it was decided by politicians we'd never met.
My husband and I agonized over the decision about what was best for our family. After much careful thought, prayer, research and medical advice, my husband and I made the difficult decision that we wanted to induce labor and deliver my daughter as soon as possible.
We wanted to honor our daughter. We wanted to hold her and say goodbye. We wanted to preserve my health.
We should have been able to handle this with dignity with our doctor. The very best medical care should have been available to me. But as I said, Nebraska law interfered.
Even though I wasn't looking for an abortion, my doctor and his legal counsel felt their hands were tied. "If I could help you, I would," he said, looking me in my tear-filled eyes. "But I would go to jail."
The law, as you know, is black and white. Unfortunately, life just isn't. Though an infection was growing inside me, under the law I wasn't sick enough to warrant the induction my husband and I wanted.
Some have suggested my husband and I should have traveled to another state, but we didn't want to leave my doctor's care. And we didn't want to drive home with my daughter in a box.
So we waited. For days.
While we waited, we tried to pray, but we didn't know what to pray for. So we spent our days and nights telling our daughter how much we loved her, how sorry we were, and how we wished we could do something different.
Then on Wednesday, December 8, my daughter was born. My husband and I held Elizabeth as she gasped for air, and mere minutes later she was gone.
There are no words for how awful the 10 days were from the moment my water broke to the day my daughter died. There are no words for the heartbreak that cut deeper every time she moved inside of me for those 10 days.
There are no words for the anger I felt when I learned after Elizabeth was born that my infection could have been analyzed, had my doctor been able to get to it sooner. With more information about what caused the problem, we might be able to have a subsequent healthy pregnancy and birth. But 10 days later, the infection was just too severe.
Women and doctors are faced with difficult and complicated pregnancies every day. But the political groups and politicians behind House Bills 2036, 954, and 1660 paint with a broad brush. Even when they concede to health exceptions in the law, women facing a range of pregnancy complications are prevented from necessary medical care. It happened to me. When asked about my circumstances, the author of Nebraska's law said it worked as intended.
This is not about politics, it's about leaving the practice of medicine up to doctors and most importantly, it's about trusting women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. It's what Arizona and Georgia women deserve.
That my pregnancy ended, that choice was made by God. How to handle the end of my pregnancy, that should have been private.
Please right the wrong that Nebraska did to me and stop Arizona House Bill 2036, Georgia House Bill 954, and New Hampshire House Bill 1660. I want my daughter's life -- and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death -- to stand for something.
When I read this, my heart hurt for this woman and her family. She went through something that is painful, one of the hardest things a person can go through, the death of their child. It was confusing, I agreed with Cecile Richards on something. This woman and her family were put in a very unfair and heartbreaking position apparently because of a pro-life law. Is this story true? Was it exaggerated a little bit? It's very possible -- I know pro-life people exaggerate, so pro-choice people must too.
I've read the Bill Summary of Arizona House Bill 2036. I read nothing that reflected this woman's situation. What it really did was make the abortion more time consuming, more expensive, and included way more hoops to jump through. Most everything protected the woman. Things like parental consent for minors, the written and oral consent of the woman, the presence of the doctor after the abortion, and an in depth educational website updated annually required more consent, less ease, but more safety. The written consent of the woman protected her from an abusive boyfriend or husband making her have an abortion. The presence of the doctor (a doctor trained in healthcare, not just abortion) provided safety after the fact if anything were to go wrong. The website (it was required that the woman be made aware of the website at least 24 hours before the procedure) provided education. Perhaps the biggest flaw a pro-choice person could find with this bill is a required ultrasound 24 hours rather than 1 hour before the procedure. In the current laws regarding an abortion procedure, we've seen countless holes in the system. This bill attempts to fill those holes.
But the question remains, will more laws help us out? Abortion is a very delicate subject, a very personal and embarrassing decision for most women who choose to have one. More laws will perhaps expose them more, make them angry at the people trying so hard to help them. The bill is most definitely not flawless. As with almost every other law, people will most likely find ways to manipulate it to get what they want. But the main goal of this bill is to protect women. And, if executed correctly, this bill will protect women.
What do you guys think? Will more pro-life laws help us? Will they hurt the girls? Will they only give more power to people who really shouldn't have that kind of power over us? What's the balance here?
Let us know what you think in a comment below or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!