In the spring of 2015, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second baby. When I was 18 weeks pregnant, our family walked into our anatomy scan thinking the biggest piece of information we’d be receiving that day was whether our two-year-old daughter would be having a baby brother or baby sister. Instead, we found out that our sweet baby had calcification building up on her heart, which is a symptom that presents itself in the end stages of heart failure. She was also developing fetal hydrops, a condition where fluid collects around several organs of the body. There was no medicine that could stop it or alleviate her symptoms and there was no surgery to fix it.
The mortality rate for a baby with fetal hydrops and a structural heart defect is over 99%. If our baby did make it to birth, she would struggle to breathe or eat and would repeatedly experience heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and suffocation until one was strong enough to kill her.
We did not want our daughter to be born into a life where she would struggle with immeasurable pain from her first breath to her last. After several ultrasounds and fetal echocardiograms, and after visiting two of the best pediatric facilities in the nation, we knew what we had to do. At 23 weeks of pregnancy we made the heartbreaking but compassionate decision to terminate.
We did not want our daughter to be born into a life where she would struggle with immeasurable pain from her first breath to her last.
Because of the Hyde Amendment, my husband’s military insurance would not pay anything towards our termination for fetal anomaly. Though every doctor mentioned that termination was an option in our severe situation, our doctors would not perform the procedure, and they would not point us in the direction of a safe and legal place to have it done. We had to travel over 250 miles to a clinic that could help us. My husband has served this country for 10 years and in the biggest crisis we’ve faced we were not adequately supported.
I never got to hold or see my baby or give her kisses. At times I hold her footprints up to my cheek knowing her little feet touched this piece of paper or I hold her tiny box of ashes in my arms and sob. The choice of how I delivered my baby was taken away from me by the stringent trap laws surrounding late term abortion.
It is not the government’s job to make these decisions for women and their families. It has become my mission to educate and inform people are the truths of late term abortion. Women and families faced with these tough decisions are in the most dire of circumstances. I will continue to advocate for women and their right to choose. I will also fight to make abortion care more affordable and accessible to women.