Hard, hard choices

Dear President Biden,

This is a hard letter to start. Most of me wants to deflect and focus on something current and removed that deserves hefty measures of righteous anger. Mitch and the GOP mobsters are generating an endless supply of such things so it wouldn’t be hard to pivot to a rant about the debt ceiling, voting rights, COVID-19, global warming, infrastructure, police brutality, poverty, systemic racism, or immigration.

And then there’s abortion.

There it is; this not at all removed issue of mine has to do with abortion, but a rant isn’t what makes sense – at least not today. I once wrote to DJT about this, but not too surprisingly, I can’t remember exactly when or what the letter was in response to. I’m guessing it might have been when Kavanaugh was being confirmed and lied through his teeth about Roe v Wade being settled case law.

Rather than trying to place it into the current political context regarding Texas’s restrictive new abortion law at this point, I’m just going to tell you the story.

It almost 25 years ago and I was 25 weeks pregnant. This was my fifth pregnancy but the only one to last long enough that maternity clothes were needed or morning sickness was really a thing. We were elated – Laura was giddy with me morning after morning when I felt like shit and couldn’t keep anything down because we thought it meant this one was a keeper.

So we named him.

His name was Roy.

And then my blood pressure shot up. I didn’t know this was happening, but when I went in for a routine visit to the doctor to check on how Roy and I were doing, my blood pressure was so dangerously high that I was hospitalized immediately. I had no idea what preeclampsia was, but I was heading towards it (or actually had it – it’s still confusing to me).

Even as an inpatient, they couldn’t get my blood pressure to come down – nothing worked. And then I started having signs of seizure, a signal that things are getting a lot worse. It was at this point that I was transferred to another hospital with a NICU. You see, the hope, the plan, was to keep me pregnant long enough for Roy to survive but because there seemed to be something wrong with the placenta, he wasn’t as big as the gestation time would normally correlate to, so we were looking at trying to retain the pregnancy for at least a couple more weeks.

And then we weren’t.

It fairly quickly became clear that neither of us was going to survive if labor wasn’t induced and I became un-pregnant.

I don’t remember exactly where in the timeline this occurred, but my original OB hospital doctor told us that something similar happened to his wife in her first pregnancy. He said, though, that it happened in a state that didn’t allow pregnancy terminations at all – even when the mother’s life was at risk – and so they had to go home and deal with the termination there.

Can you f***ing imagine? What a nightmare.

Yes, he was an OB doc and clearly far more capable and prepared to technically deal with such an eventuality, but what a horrible, cruel thing.

At the time, knowing this had happened to them and being able to go through it in the hospital rather than at home didn’t make it measurably less of an ordeal. It was still hellish having to decide to let Roy go, having to ask the nurses to stop telling me how strong his little heartbeat was, having to go through labor and have my milk come in to no live baby. It was still a horrible nightmare. But it wasn’t cruel. I knew everyone wanted both of us to be ok, and I also knew that if we couldn’t both be ok, they weren’t going to let me die.

I’m telling you this because while it happened to Laura and me, this is not a one-off occurrence. This kind of thing happens all the time and it happens in Texas and it happens in Mississippi. It happens everywhere women get pregnant, which is everywhere. And it shouldn’t be a matter of whether you happen live in a state that values women that you can or cannot access the reproductive healthcare you need, whether it is near the beginning of a pregnancy or more towards the end.

So we need you and your administration to stay in this fight and not capitulate on Roe v. Wade. We need there to be federal legislation that protects women and their families from the Greg Abbotts of the world. This is all non-negotiable. We are counting on you.

May we all be safe to make the choices we need to make.
May we all be willing to support and trust women wholeheartedly.
May we enact strong federal legislation that protects a woman’s right to choose.
May we accept that to do otherwise will set us all back light years.

Tracy Simpson

2 Replies to “Hard, hard choices”

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