Women tell their stories of abortions in late pregnancy


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The aliens called them monsters, watched them on social media and said that their children alive should be taken away. Their darkest moments are judged and politicized by characters who do not know them. They feel like involuntary pawns in an ugly and vicious game they have not asked to play.

Women who have abortions later in their pregnancy are "fruitfully linked through a club in which no one has ever wanted to be a part," said one woman.

She was part of the half-dozen women who recently shared their stories with CNN. They chose to speak after President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass a law banning "late abortion," a phrase derogatory by gynecologists.

We heard from women whose lives depended on the end of their pregnancy and others who had learned that the babies they desperately wanted would not survive – or suffer if they did. Some of them signed an open letter online, titled "We are later aborted patients", it was said, and those of others.

We also talked to desperate, lonely, terrified and misled young women. A woman had been told that she could not get pregnant because of various health problems, including missed rules. Then, when she did, she unexpectedly went to a pregnancy center for pregnant women, hoping to have an abortion. They told her that she was not as far as she was, which further complicated the possibility of having an abortion elsewhere.

A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. About two-thirds of all abortions take place at the latest eight weeks and almost all – more than 91% – occur before 13 weeks, according to reports from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 8% occurs no later than 20 weeks.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' professional organization, abortions after 21 weeks account for "just over 1% of all abortions performed in the United States". Abortions later in the second trimester are "very rare" and the third trimesters are "even rarer".

Because many states impose gestational age limits for abortions and refuse to take out pregnancy insurance, women who have abortions later in their pregnancy have few options. They often need to travel, which increases the cost of what can be a prohibitive procedure.

One woman said that she felt punished – again – for the loss of her son each time she was paying the monthly loan payment on the thousands of dollars that she had borrowed for the first time. # 39; abortion. It was a decision she thought did not have any other choice than to take; the boy in his belly lacked several organs and would never have survived.

Some women insist on being named, refusing to hide. Others want to use only first names or pseudonyms, fearing retaliation at a time when people seem to hate more than listening.

But by sharing their stories, these women – some of whom are mentioned above, others highlighted below – hope to be able to humanize a subject that is the subject of heated debate and which, they say, is very misunderstood.

She had to choose how her daughter was going to die

When people ask her how many children she has, Dana Weinstein tells them that she has three children alive. This is because the girl she lost 9 and a half years ago is still part of her.

She was happy married, mother of a 2 year old boy and pleased to be pregnant again. She read stories and writes a diary to the baby. She loved when her son rolled his little cars on his growing belly. Since she was over 35 years old and was at an "advanced maternal age," she said, her care included additional sonograms later in her pregnancy.

When she and her husband came in for a visit at 29 weeks, they were told that the ventricles, or network of cavities, in their baby's brain were bigger than normal, she said. The doctor and the technician said they were not "shockingly bigger," Weinstein recalls, so she was not worried. They could cope with everything that was happening, they reasoned, her husband and she. Plus, the rest of their baby was perfect.

Still, she was sent to Children's National in Washington for further tests. Weinstein, who lives in Rockville, Maryland, was 31 weeks old, well into his third trimester when they got an appointment. Then came the punch.

There are words that are difficult to spell for the brain abnormalities of their baby: agenesis of the corpus callosum and polymicrogyria. In simpler terms, as Weinstein describes it, a special MRI showed that the baby did not have the part of the brain that connects the right and left hemispheres. And where a healthy brain "looks like a cauliflower," she said, their baby's brain had concave areas and "pockets of emptiness."

"What does it mean, what does it mean?" She asked repeatedly, before they were sent to specialists who could explain.

Doctors were waiting for their baby to not suck or swallow, Weinstein said. They said that she would probably suffer from uncontrollable seizures at birth and that, for this reason, a resuscitation order would be necessary. The doctors had predicted that their baby would need medical intervention throughout his life.

And, as Weinstein understood, she has no mental capacity to dream, to love or to enjoy life.

His questions came quickly. Impossible to re-education? What if they took stem cells from the umbilical cord blood of her son that she had banked? Maybe they could push back what his daughter needed?

The brain of their baby was destined to be so from the beginning, experts said. It could not have been detected earlier and would not improve. They could never have seen it coming. The multiple doctors she interviewed, looking for hope, told her the same thing.

"It's only a stroke of luck," said Weinstein. "Basically, anyone who could get pregnant could be that lucky."

They heard about what a resuscitation order would involve. They listened to what an existence, ephemeral or otherwise, would look like. They were informed about palliative care.

At first, no one talked about the possibility of abortions so late in her pregnancy. Weinstein thinks this is partly because Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, Kansas, was murdered by a doctor to whom the hospital had sent rare patients like her in the past weeks before.

She could carry the baby for another six weeks and have him come, they tell him. But this prolonged the nightmare in which she lived, she said, in which they had to choose the mode of death of their daughter. She was worried that their choice would be for their son, their family, their marriage.

The endless kicks in Weinstein's belly, the persistent movements that had brought him so much joy have become unbearable. She feared that the baby would just grab it and, worse yet, suffer. She fell apart and could not sleep. While she proudly wore pretty maternity clothes to show off her bump, she now hid in her husband's clothes. She dreaded the well-intentioned question of strangers – "When are you right?" – and refused to leave the house.

"That agony every moment until I could end his pain was horrible," Weinstein said. Together with her husband, they decided to have an abortion. For that baby that they loved, she said, it sounded like "a more peaceful path for her passing".

She had to cross the country to get to Colorado to get the procedure. She felt lucky to have supportive parents who were able to charge the abortion expense, or $ 17,500, on their credit card. She traveled with her husband, mother and son to be able to hold him during his stay at the hotel.

The doctor used a sonogram to find the baby's heart. He administered an injection to Weinstein through the stomach to stop beating. She felt the last movements of her daughter before her death. A few days later, on the very day of her 32nd week of pregnancy, she gave birth to their dead baby.

"I will not talk about this part," said Weinstein, who remained calm on the phone, but predicted that she would collapse just after we hung up. "But I would like to say that it was not a baby tearing from one member to the other. I gave birth to a beautiful baby who had air outside.

Now 47, she and her husband had two healthy daughters. The first, now 8 years old, called Weinstein: her "baby rainbow".

"We call it that," she said, "for after a storm, what's more beautiful than a rainbow?"

The end of her pregnancy saved her life

The swelling was the first sign that something was wrong. He appeared in his hands and feet. She had trouble sneaking into her shoes.

Susan opened her book "What to expect when you expected" and turned to the section that indicated when to call a doctor. Her kind of sudden swelling and weight gain – she had taken 11 pounds in a week – was on the list.

She asked her husband, who had been a doctor for a little over a year, that he thought she looked good. He gently told her that she was beautiful, thinking first that she was aware of herself and that she was afraid of being fat.

He was not a gynecologist, so she called hers.

"Ask your husband to take your blood pressure just when he can," the doctor said.

On his way to Berkeley, California that night, he suggested that they go to his office first.

Susan recalls 30 years later that her blood pressure was "out of reach". Her husband called the obstetrician, who asked him if he had urine test strips on hand. He did, and they showed that Susan's protein levels were dangerously high, indicating a problem with her kidneys.

"Go right to the hospital," ordered the obstetrician.

Susan hesitated at first. She felt good, just swollen. Besides, she was hungry.

"Can not we go to dinner first?" She asked before rushing to the door.

She remained in denial for as long as she could. The doctors worried about her blood pressure, but she was not. They said that his kidneys were closed, but this was not recorded. Instead, she focused on the ultrasound they took, which revealed the baby's gender.

She looked at her husband with excitement.

"Oh, my God, we're going to have a boy!" She says. "Are not you happy?"

Her face was dark, she remembered. "He knew it did not look good at all."

She was 24 weeks old and had severe pre-eclampsia. The doctors said that she was about to have a stroke.

"It's as if you were poisoned by your pregnancy," she explained, explaining her condition. "And the only way to cure him is to not be pregnant."

The fetus was late in its development and not where it should be at 24 weeks.

"It takes him at least two weeks to be viable at a minimum, and you just do not have two weeks," the doctors told him. "You do not have two days."

Yet she tried to negotiate an agreement. She was a physical therapist. She could readjust after a stroke, she tells them. She could rehabilitate their baby. She wanted to give it to her, if not vaginally, then by caesarean section. They said that his body could not stand either.

They promised him that the fetus would not feel pain before he stopped beating his heart. Then they put Susan on hand to perform the dilation and evacuation procedure, in which the cervix is ​​dilated and the contents of the uterus extracted.

Her abortion was a necessity and she felt like she had no choice, "said Susan, 59, who later had two daughters.

It was not what she wanted. It was what she needed to live.

His biological mother abandoned him. She refused to do the same thing

She was 19 years old and lived in a Florida foster family when she learned that she was pregnant.

"Katherine," not her real name, was in the United States on a student visa. She is from Honduras, where abortion is totally forbidden, and became pregnant during a summer visit to the house.

She was confused, though. The older man with whom she had gone to Honduras bought a Plan B pill at the black market, she said, and told her to take it. She did not know what it was nor how it worked. When she was not menstruating, she assumed that her hormones were completely skeptical because of this strange pill.

After a few months back in the United States, however, his body was different. The home pregnancy test she bought at Walmart was positive, but she clung to the plot of the film she had seen where the tests had given false results.

When the father of her foster family asked her if she was pregnant, she replied, "No! Why do you ask?"

She was terrified and did not know where to turn. She told the man she had gone to Honduras that she was pregnant, "but he was not supportive," she said. "He said," I'm taking care of it. "

She did not want to disappoint her family at home. If her family in Florida learned the truth, she was afraid to send her away. Katherine had dreams, she said, that depended on her stay at the university.

She could barely concentrate during her final exams – "It was the worst semester of my life," she said – then she moved to Texas to be transferred to a new school.

In the Lone Star State, she felt even more alone. She said that she did not know anyone. At the end of January 2016, she understood: she could not have this baby.

She remembered hearing about a man from her neighborhood in Honduras who had secretly performed an abortion, but she did not know who he was. She learned that abortions were legal in the United States, but she feared she could never afford one. Then she started looking for options in Texas and found a place near her home. Even better, when she called, she was promised a free pregnancy test and ultrasound.

The clinic first made him watch a video. She remembered God, adoption and parenthood. It featured women who shared testimonials about the abortions they regretted. Katherine looked but did not understand their sadness. Without knowing it, she had entered a denominational clinic that did not offer abortion. She attended the video she did not join because she said, "I just wanted help."

The ultrasound showed that she was at 30 weeks away, farther than expected.

"There is a place where they can pay for your university education and you can stay there to get the baby," recalls Katherine, a woman at the clinic.

Maybe it was an option, she thought at first, but it was not what she wanted. She would bring a baby to the world only if he had his parents, both. She was not ready to raise a child. And she was driving it first: she refused to look like her own biological mother, who had abandoned her at the hospital after she was born.

"It's not the purpose of my life, to repeat the same story," she said. "I did not want my baby to feel the same as me. … I'm 23 years old and I always ask these questions about what happened.

She insisted that she wanted an abortion.

"In Texas, it's illegal for you to have an abortion after 20 weeks," the woman told the clinic. "You will have to have the baby."

The woman asked if she wanted her ultrasound images. Katherine said she did not do it. The woman gave them all the same. As soon as she came home, she threw them and sobbed.

Then she became frenzied. She went online to research where she could go and found only two options. She called a clinic in New Mexico, which directed her to a sister clinic in Texas for an examination. This clinic confirmed how well she was and heard her supplications. However, they could not give her what she wanted, but they called New Mexico for her.

They are "willing to help you," she recalls hearing. "But it will cost you $ 12,000."

Given his current path, his appointment was quickly included in the program. She had only three days to find the money, she said.

She worked on the phone and pulled emails. With the help of a network of abortion funds that support women who can not afford these procedures, Katherine said, she raised $ 9,000. She begged the New Mexico clinic to take her away again.

A third-trimester abortion provider in New Mexico, who did not want to be named and could not speak directly to Katherine's case, suggested that to explain why someone like her would be accepted for the procedure.

"My patients, regardless of their gestational age, share this common point: regardless of their history, they decided that an abortion was absolutely necessary to preserve their mental or physical health and / or to save their unborn child. from a life of suffering "doctor writes in an email.

Katherine was in a nervous mist the day she walked through the doors of the clinic. She did not remember the injection that stopped the fetal heart rate. She could not name the medicine she had been given, but she certainly remembered the cramps that seized her body later at the hotel. It was only afterwards that she understood that she had given birth.

"I had pain, you can not imagine. I wanted to die, "she said. "With this pain, I really regretted having an abortion."

But this regret was short-lived. Two days later, when she "gave birth to a dead fetus" at the clinic, tears of relief invaded her.

"Thank you for changing my future," she recalls.

Katherine, who to date has never told her friend or family member about her abortion, knows that some people can read her story and think the worst of it. But it's her body, her life and she knew what she could and could not handle, she said.

She is disconcerted by the outcry against abortion. She thinks of all the children in the United States and elsewhere who do not have a loving home and who do not have a chance.

"Do you want the orphanages to have more children?" She asks. "Do you want more kids on the street?"

She is anxious to be a mother someday, she insists. But she will do it with a supportive partner when she turns 30 when she becomes the woman she plans to be.


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