I am 67, and very grateful that my reproductive years coincided with availability of birth control and legal abortion. My husband and I tried to have a baby in our early 30’s. Instead we had two miscarriages. I was fortunate that I could have D&C’s in a hospital to safely clean out the remains of the miscarriages.
I grieve for Savita Halappanavar who died of septicemia in a hospital in Ireland in 2012 after her partial miscarriage was not treated because the doctors told her that a fetal heartbeat had been detected and abortion was not permitted because of the country’s religious doctrine. Then, our third try ended with a premature baby delivered by emergency C-section that died at birth. After the failed pregnancies my husband and I enrolled in an adoption class we heard about from acquaintances who had adopted two babies through the program. This was in the early 1980’s; the agency we worked with took in teenage mothers, looked after them during pregnancy, and carefully vetted prospective adoptive parents. At the same time, I went to a reproduction specialist to find out why I wasn’t able to complete a pregnancy. Apparently in my case pregnancy caused hypothyroidism, a lack of thyroid hormone sufficient to maintain a developing fetus. Well, nine months after we started the adoption program, we got a call from the agency that a 16 day old, blond, blue-eyed baby boy was waiting for us. That was our older son. Nine months after we brought him home, I discovered I was pregnant again. We had amniocentesis done to check for genetic problems. If the fetus had Down syndrome we would have opted for abortion without hesitation. But the fetus was normal and, with a thyroid hormone supplement, I carried the baby to term and had our second son at age 37. Since the delivery was by C-section, I had my tubes tied during the surgery. I have since read that Catholic-run hospitals don’t permit surgical sterilization during C-section deliveries. I am glad that we were able to have this done. As an older mother, with a history of troubled pregnancies and increased risk of fetal abnormality in any future pregnancy, we felt that was the best option. Our sons are grown now, off living their lives. I never had an abortion, but I am really thankful that my husband and I were able to make the choices and have the safe medical procedures that we did, and that we could have had an abortion if we decided that was best for our family. I am glad that our older son’s birth mother had her baby and was willing to let him go, but I strongly support the decisions of other teenage girls to end their pregnancies. I am distressed that women are having their reproductive choices curtailed in so many states. All women should be able to make their own decisions about childbearing and about their own physical and mental wellbeing.