There are so many reasons that women choose to have abortions. I had an abortion at 22 weeks after receiving a devastating diagnosis for one of my twin daughters. And 20-week bans do target people like me, families like mine, under the guise of “protecting the innocent.” What policymakers don’t realize, or refuse to realize, is that my abortion decision was about saving my child’s life and sparing my innocent child from no life at all.
My husband and I went through years of fertility treatments. We finally found success with donor egg IVF in the Czech Republic. We were over the moon to find out we were expecting twin girls. We breezed through the early weeks, went on a family trip to Disney World, took pictures of our unborn princesses with the Disney princesses, made nursery plans, and created a huge registry with two of everything. We were nervous but so excited to start this life.
I turned 30 that year, and less than two weeks after my birthday, we went in for an ultrasound at 20 weeks and received some of the most devastating news expectant parents can receive. Baby A was perfectly healthy, if a little small. Baby B, on the other hand, had a number of abnormalities. And not minor ones, either. We went for a second opinion. Then traveled to Houston for a third opinion. The opinions kept getting worse. Our little girl was not going to survive long outside the womb because she would likely develop brain infections almost immediately. And her problems were posing a serious risk to her sister.
Because HB2 was being heard by the Supreme Court at the time, we had 12 days from her initial diagnosis to make a decision. Did we continue with the risky pregnancy knowing that we could go home from the hospital with empty arms after either stillbirths or watching our girls suffer painfully? Or did we terminate our beloved girl, spare her the pain, and keep her sister healthy? We said goodbye to our precious Catherine and welcomed Olivia 13 weeks later, early but completely healthy.
20-week bans leave little room for exceptions for health of babies like Catherine. Getting a diagnosis that fits their rules is nearly impossible. It is because of this, along with the pro-life chant of “doctors could be wrong” that I say families like mine who receive devastating medical diagnoses are, in fact, targeted by these bans. We should all be allowed to make the decisions we feel are best for our children and our family. I share my family’s story to put a face to later abortions and show that the issue of abortion is never black and white. It’s full of shades of gray that cannot and should not be legislated.
Sign on to the Repro Power TX initiative and help us build local power and support for abortion and reproductive justice in our Texas communities.
Photo courtesy of Darla Barar