My husband and I experienced two miscarriages, so we were both excited and apprehensive when I reached the 12 week mark of an intended and wanted pregnancy. At my 12 week checkup, due to my medical history, the doctor offered to check the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler fetal monitor. When the heartbeat proved elusive, she sent us for a quick ultrasound.
However, instead of good news we learned that the fetus had anencephaly (the fetus had no brain). We were sent to Maternal Fetal Medicine and a counselor. We explained to the counselor that we had already talked it over, and the safest thing for my health was to terminate this pregnancy. Pregnancy is risky, and we only want to take that risk for a viable fetus. She informed us that we would have to go through Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy termination. I felt abandoned. When my pregnancy was healthy, the hospital was right there, but now that there were problems they were sending me away. I felt like there was this unspoken message that our choice to get an abortion was our problem. I went home feeling disheartened by the response and I was losing faith in the hospital’s ability to care for me.
My faith was restored when my doctor called me that afternoon. We talked about the diagnosis, and I told her that my husband and I had decided that the safest thing for our family was to get an abortion. My doctor agreed, and she offered to conduct the procedure. I realized I was lucky to have a compassionate doctor who made this offer to her patients. However, my doctor explained that the hospital’s cost for an abortion was about three times higher than Planned Parenthood. The offer still stood regardless of my insurance plan, but she expected that with such a price difference I may want to reconsider based on coverage.
Now it was my faith in health insurance that was tested. I learned that many insurance companies do not cover abortions despite the fact that a first trimester abortion is much cheaper than a pregnancy, and much less risky for the mother. I also learned how many women carrying fetuses with terminal birth defects cannot afford abortions and must risk their health carrying an nonviable fetus to term.
I realized in the two days I waited for the appointment to arrive that being attached to any being you don’t want to be attached to is mentally exhausting. I was jealous of my husband who could go to work and forget. Every morning for two days I would wake up, feel nauseous, and be forced to remember that I was pregnant. I would relive the moment we heard the diagnosis. I would cry. I wanted to get to the point where my husband and I could try for the pregnancy that would lead to our baby. And I realized that this statement is true for all women regardless of the health of the fetus. When a pregnancy is not meant to be, you know. When a fetus is not meant to become your baby, you know. Women know. And forcing a woman to risk her physical and mental health is cruel. Abortion rights need to be protected.