Difficult Words

It’s been a little hard to focus these past few days. Politico broke the news this week that the Supreme Court is considering overturning Roe v Wade in the United States, which would revoke the federal protections for abortion and cause individual state laws to dictate its legality. If that happened, safe abortions would almost immediately become banned, or so severely limited that they might as well be banned, in almost half of the United States. It’d be the kind of nightmarish societal implosion that should only exist in the cautionary tales of science fiction novels. Yet here we are.

Part of the reason I’ve been so quiet on the blog these past few months is because I’ve had a difficult situation at home…which is unfortunately very relevant to the current discourse. I didn’t imagine I’d end up talking about it this way, but given everything that’s happening it doesn’t feel right to keep it to myself.

Content Warning: child loss, abortion

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

At the beginning of 2021, my wife and I were eagerly anticipating our first child. We had been trying to start a family for a while, and were beyond excited when we discovered we were having a baby.

Just over a month and a half ago, we made the decision to end the pregnancy after the 20-week scan of the baby discovered a birth defect that would have seriously impacted our child’s livelihood. The scans at 12 and 16 weeks both came back without any issues, showing our baby was healthy. Somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks, that changed. The chances of debilitating, lifelong complications were extremely high, if the baby survived.

We did not want to get an abortion. We explored every option, and seriously considered continuing the pregnancy. But after an exhausting amount of research and meeting with multiple specialists, it became clear it was the best choice for all of us, the baby included. We had less than a two week window in which to make our decision before the procedure would no longer have been an option.

Only after we actually went through with the abortion did we find out that the baby had already passed away, sometime between our 20-week scan and the surgery.

Since then, I’ve often caught myself reflecting on how lucky we are to live in a state (New York) where getting an abortion was even an option for us. If it hadn’t been, it would have unnecessarily prolonged what was already one of the most difficult experiences of our lives. We still would have lost the baby, but would have been forced to use a less safe procedure because we would have had to wait weeks longer, putting my wife’s well-being at even greater risk. Having options in that moment was so incredibly important; not having them would have made the situation exponentially worse. It’s hard to truly fathom what an enormous difference that makes until you are standing in that doctor’s office, facing down a decision you never dreamed you’d have to make.

Banning safe, doctor-facilitated abortions is cruel and irresponsible. It will not stop people from having abortions, only force them to be done under more dangerous conditions. Deciding to end a pregnancy is a deeply personal decision, and not something any government should have a say in. There are many reasons why an abortion might become necessary for someone. And from the wording of the leaked Supreme Court document and arguments they’re entertaining in states like Mississippi, it’s clear those very valid medical concerns and practices are not being even remotely considered.

This week has been the first time either my wife or I have talked about what we went through outside of closed conversations with a handful of people. It’s insane to think that the very rights that kept her safe less than two months ago are in jeopardy. Insane that the next people who need those rights might not have access to them. Insane that this discussion is even happening in 2022.

Yet here we are.

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