Collateral Damage

I am the quiet one. The observer. I often share very little deep personal stuff on social media platforms, and if I’m honest I share very little deep personal stuff in my friendships as well. I often am the space holder. I offer empathy and compassion to those who are revealing very deep and personal stuff, and because of that it never really seems like a ‘good time’ to share mine. That isn’t the only reason I don’t share, though.

I don’t share because I learned to keep secrets. I learned that what you share can be used against you. I learned that you will be judged. And while I believe I don’t give a crap what others think of me, I am not all gung ho to put all my stuff willy-nilly out there for those who won’t understand to pick at.

So I’ve silently written #metoo without bravely sharing the details of my too numerous to count #metoo experiences. I only whispered my thoughts about the vaccine. And I am decidedly zipped lip about politics.

And as others have shared their abortion stories on social media, I’ve remained invisible, until now.

But the decision to reverse Roe v Wade has me shook. This article hits close to home, and rather than just sharing it and without remark, I am sharing my own experience that most people who know me have never heard before.

My Expectations

But why? What are my expectations in sharing it? It is taking everything in me to share this and I’m a little queasy doing it. I am trying to manage my expectations around it. While I would love to see people respond with compassion and empathy, I have learned that people can only respond from where they stand. If people cannot see the difference between their beliefs and the rights of autonomy over our bodies then I expect their capacity to respond with compassion to be stunted.

My purpose in sharing this article and my own experience is because I’ve become painfully aware that part of the population think abortion refers to “women using abortion as a means of birth control.”

Breaking It Down

There is a false belief that the term ‘abortion’ strictly relates to the intentional termination of a viable pregnancy.

The medical term for the end of a pregnancy before 20 weeks is called an abortion, period. (After 20 weeks is called a stillbirth.) There are two kinds of abortions: spontaneous abortion, (which is colloquially referred to as a miscarriage); and induced abortions.

The legal definition of abortion is the termination of pregnancy by various means, including medical surgery, before the fetus is able to sustain independent life.

Anti-abortion laws do not differentiate between spontaneous abortion and induced abortion. The legislation relates to the procedures and not the circumstances. That means that this Supreme Court reversal affects medical care related to miscarriages as well. If you are one making a distinction between women terminating an unwanted pregnancy and a medically necessary D&C, you are misguided. The PROCEDURE is what is being legislated, not the circumstances.

(And before you reply that it doesn’t interfere in cases where it is medically justified for the health of the mother, you are wrong. The language is ‘unless to protect the life of the mother’, which does NOT mean protect the health of the mother. It means medical intervention ONLY when the mother’s life is in imminent danger and not before.)

While I wholeheartedly respect your beliefs regarding terminating a healthy viable pregnancy, I do not respect legislation broadly regulating women’s healthcare. There are two things being mashed into one here.

To support the right for women to have access to a safe medical procedure without fear of legal ramifications, is not the same as condoning elective termination of a viable pregnancy. They are two separate things that have been fused as one, like so many other issues lately, with the sole intention to divide us even further.

Real Life Numbers

Here’s some percentages for you:

  • In 2011 50% of pregnancies in the United States were unplanned.
  • 40% of those unplanned pregnancies were terminated electively.
    • That is just 10% of all pregnancies that were terminated by induced abortion.
  • 25% of all confirmed pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, aka miscarriage. (It is reported that 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but half occur before a pregnancy is confirmed.)
  • 50% of those spontaneous abortions require medical intervention to complete.
    • Which means that medical intervention is required in 12.5% of all pregnancies to complete a spontaneous abortion.

Remember, it is the procedures that are being legislated not the intentions, so these bans affect more medically necessary procedures (12.5%) than elective ones (10%).

My Story

As long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mother. I always imagined myself having three children.

I was married at 24 and three years later we started trying to get pregnant. It took us nearly a year, but we got pregnant in October. I took a home pregnancy test and then had a doctor’s appointment to confirm. The blood work, although it confirmed I was pregnant, revealed the hCG levels was not as high as they should be for 7 weeks gestation, so a week later the bloodwork was repeated. The hCG levels were lower. As the doctor suspected the baby had died, yet my body was not expelling it. He scheduled a D&C (dilation and curettage) right away. It was the week before Thanksgiving.

I was devastated and heartbroken in a way I’d never experienced before. My doctor was kind and compassionate and assured me that having one miscarriage was not an indicator of future potential to have children.

That was the only compassion I received that day.

I was prepped for surgery and as I lay there, alone, staring at the ceiling, no less than four nurses came in at separate times to talk to me. Each one with their own judgement, to ask me why I was choosing to have this procedure.

Read that again, please.

They asked me why I decided to end my pregnancy.

Over and over. Four different nurses.

“What procedure are you having today?” “Why are you having this done?” “What made you decide to end your pregnancy?” “What makes you think you need to do this today?” And then when I answered, the next question was “Oh, well, do you have other children at home?” And, “Don’t worry you’ll have other children.” Then they left. No compassion. No kindness. As if it were merely their job to police for hussies trying to sneak an intentional termination under the radar.

By the time my doctor came back in to check on me before surgery I was distraught and his kindness only caused more tears to flow. I still remember him placing his hand compassionately on my head.

Six weeks later we began having sex again and immediately got pregnant! Due to the previous miscarriage I was considered high risk. It was a difficult pregnancy from the beginning, ultimately resulting in an emergency C-Section at 32 weeks.

Some years later I found myself unexpectedly pregnant again. I had decided not to try to have more children due to all the complications in my history. On top of that, my marriage was not on solid ground. We were struggling financially and I was, what I called, a married single mother. All while working full time as a hospice social worker. I did a home pregnancy test and had a doctor’s visit to confirm. I was not happy at the news and considered getting an elective induced abortion. However, at 8 weeks I began cramping and bleeding.

I went to the emergency room where they discovered fetal tissue on the cervix. They told me I was miscarrying and compassionately sent me home and told me to follow up with my physician.

I had another appointment with my doctor. Despite the ER records they wanted to do an ultrasound before scheduling a D & C. Much to my surprise they found a heartbeat. Apparently, I had been pregnant with twins. Because there was a heartbeat they would not do the procedure as it was against their policy to terminate life.

The bleeding not only continued, it worsened and my hands and face swelled up almost overnight (an indication of pre-eclampsia which I had experienced in the previous pregnancy). I went back into the doctor, another ultrasound still showed a heartbeat, though I don’t think it was particularly strong and I was told, “not to worry because some women bleed throughout their pregnancy.”

I knew something was wrong and my body was telling me so. I knew in my soul that the pregnancy would not go full term and that no one was looking out for my health. They were more concerned with the potential life than the life carrying it.

I ended up taking my health into my own hands by going to Planned Parenthood to have the spontaneous abortion completed. The nurse who prepared me for the procedure, asked why I waited so long (at this point I was 11 weeks) and I told her the entire story. She told me the pregnancy was nonviable, meaning the fetus or baby has no chance of being born alive (notice the medical language says nothing about a heartbeat equating to viability). She called in the doctor and I told her the story and she said the same thing. The fetus was nonviable. They said leaving it in play, simply because there was a heartbeat, was putting my health at great risk. My body had been trying for three weeks to expel the pregnancy and needed medical assistance that I was being denied.

This was all while the right to have an abortion was legally supported by the Roe v Wade decision. What will it be like now?

Whose Lives Are We Saving?

That’s what people say. It’s about saving babies’ lives, but the statistics don’t support that. The statistics reveal that 12.5% of all pregnancies that end in spontaneous abortion will now not have access to adequate healthcare. In my own story I could’ve died from the complications of the first incomplete abortion had my doctor not done the D&C. Which means then that my daughter would never have been born. So that is two lives that the abortion saved.

In my second experience it is almost certain that had I not had the option to take my health into my own hands, I would’ve developed sepsis, and possibly died leaving my then 6 year old daughter motherless, and then orphaned at 22 when her father died. But yes, tell me all about how a fetus’ potential for life is more important than the actual life of a 34 year old contributing member of society, wife and mother. Tell me how I, standing before you now, am not worth having the choice to save my own life.

There are currently 700 women every year who die pregnancy related deaths. 31% of those deaths occur during pregnancy and are not related to delivery or postpartum. 3 out of every 5 of those deaths are preventable. 420 of those 700 women could be saved.

Again, let me remind you that these are the statistics BEFORE the decision to reverse Roe v Wade. Now there will be an increase in maternal mortality.

There are currently 440,000 children in the US foster care system. Children in the foster care system are 42% more likely to die than children in the general population, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Often pro-lifers seem to offer adoption as an alternative to abortion. Yet, with 440,000 children in US foster care the U.S. adoption & foster care statistics reveal that more than 69,000 youth in U.S. foster care live in institutions, group homes, and other environments, instead of with a family. In 2019, 56% of the children who left foster care were reunited with their families or living with a relative; 26% were adopted.

In 2019, 20,455 (8%) aged out of the U.S. foster care system, and a majority left without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed in life that other children can receive within a family.

In addition to an increase in maternal mortality and foster care admissions, there will also be an increase in stillbirths and babies born with severe birth defects, impairments and subsequent neonatal deaths.

I guess we’re all just collateral damage.

This isn’t meant to be a debate about the morality of elective induced abortion. The fact that the current narrative spouts this is calculated and divisive. I want to get people to realize that nothing exists in a vacuum. To look at an issue, any social issue, separate from the whole is a mistake. To alter one thing effects everything else it touches.

To force women to carry to term unwanted pregnancies has consequences. To restrict necessary medical intervention will have consequences. To criminalize the procedure will also have consequences. An increased number of seriously ill infants will have consequences. Parents raising unwanted children will have consequences.

  • Pro-life vs Pro-choice
  • Republican vs Democrat
  • Pandemic vs Plandemic
  • Vax vs Unvaxxed
  • POC vs Whites
  • Black Lives Matter vs the Police

How many more ways will The Agenda manufacture to further divide us?

What’s Next?

What precedent does this set? This isn’t really about abortion at all, that was the smoke screen. It was about setting a precedent that we do not have the right of autonomy over our own bodies. This opens the door for gender reassignment surgeries to be outlawed. Contraceptives to be outlawed. Vaccines to be mandated. Alternative and holistic health practices to be outlawed.

Clarence Thomas has already suggested the Supreme Court should begin reviewing other rulings such as, same-sex marriage and contraceptives.

What is the real driving force behind this? What’s next? Are you asking?

As An End Of Life Specialist

To my fellow End of Life Doulas, I implore you to open your services to include miscarriages and abortions. With these new changes the already complicated emotional, social and practical needs of women experiencing these procedures has just increased ten fold.

2 responses to “Collateral Damage”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sadly, because I live in the heart of the Bible Belt, in the Deep South, most of my friends and acquaintances are overjoyed that Roe V Wade was reversed, because their morals are more important than anything in the world, and they believe the entire country must live by them. I, on the other hand, believe human life is more important, as are compassion for and kindness toward our fellow humans. Your article clearly states everything I’ve been telling them for years, but in a much more personal way. I’m truly sorry for all you’ve been through, but am so grateful you’re here to tell the story.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by to say that. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be living there, now. When people’s values erase their humanity, they’re doing it wrong.

      There is human life and there is potential life. A mother is a human life. A fetus is a potential life. Until that fetus can exist outside the womb it is not a life. Otherwise we have to say every egg and every sperm is a life because they have the potential to become a human life.

      Like

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