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I made the hardest decision of my life to terminate a pregnancy in April of 2021. I feel it is time to share what it is like to have an abortion in Texas.
For most, it is not some afterthought. There are so many reasons why women need to terminate and access to care is critical to keep women alive. So many women share my story and as a privileged female, who can pay for better health support, it is my duty to stand up for the reproductive rights of all women.
After tests and ultrasounds, I found out early April that my third pregnancy was not progressing as it should. My HCG and progesterone levels were way under where they should have been. Ultrasounds showed a fetus weeks behind and without a heartbeat.
My doctor, whom I saw weekly during two complicated pregnancies, looked at me with an open heart and said she would support me whatever I chose, but that things were pointing to an inviable pregnancy.
The options were to wait for my body to miscarry or take the abortion pill. In Texas, the fetus has to be a certain size and have no heartbeat to qualify for an OB to terminate. Because the fetus was so behind in size, it did not qualify for my OB to give me an abortion pill. I was sent to one of the only open abortion clinics in central Texas. I had no clue that even with chromosome or other issues with the fetus, I could not be with my own doctor during this terrible time.
At the abortion clinic, I waited for 6 hours just to be seen for my appointment. Women packed in, most of us sitting on the floor, stripped of our dignity as the rights of the fetus were read over a loudspeaker. When I was finally called back, they confirmed no heartbeat. But because the clinic was so full—being the only one open in the area—I would have to wait 2 weeks before they could give me a pill. I sat there sobbing telling them that something was dying in me. Begging to be seen sooner, they let me know they couldn't change anything.
The next week, I started to bleed. I thought my body was handling this for me and while I was devastated, I was grateful to not have to go back to the clinic. The next day I went to my OB for an ultrasound to confirm that everything cleared. I went alone thinking I would be ok. The ultrasound shockingly showed a moving fetus with a heartbeat. It was still very behind but it was there. How could it have a heartbeat when it didn't for so long? I began to shake. The tears flowed and a guttural cry was let out as I felt a grief I wish upon no one. A cry so deep that three women in the office had to hold me and guide me to a room where I was told that while the fetus was growing, it was not growing at a rate it should. All my tests still pointed to inviability. The options were to wait and see with a high likelihood that I would have to labor a pregnancy that did not make it or to terminate. It was the hardest decision of my life.
I said goodbye to this little being April 13th. I knew to lean into my faith and I'm forever grateful that my intuition led me to sit alone outside of the clinic to say goodbye and mourn what could have been. With complete lack of tenderness, I was handed a pill at the abortion clinic and told to take it and that I could go. The day was filled with both physical and emotional pain that leaves you utterly numb. Unfortunately, I had to go through the process two more times as I learned that many pregnancies with chromosomal issues can implant much deeper than they should.
On May 19, 2021 SB8 was passed in Texas. I was sitting in the hospital waiting to go into surgery to finally complete this journey. Everyone in the hospital kept thinking, this will never go into law. I had been told that I needed to prepare for hemorrhaging and potentially a hysterectomy as the tissue was too deeply implanted. An hour before my surgery, my body finally released the pregnancy. I was held by my husband, OB, friends and family.
No one wants to have an abortion. Abortion looks different for everyone but collective trauma is real. It's time we all support women and create the change we all deserve.
This story originally appeared on Anook Athletics. It has been updated.