Tennessee woman Hadleigh Tweedall shares her abortion story.

Hadleigh Tweedall and her husband had long been hoping for a second child to join their son, born in January 2014. Tweedall got pregnant just a few months after her son turned 1, but she experienced a miscarriage at the 11-week mark. “After that, it took us a while to start trying again,” Tweedall tells SELF. “It was obviously very devastating.” So when Tweedall found out she was pregnant again at the end of summer 2015, she was ecstatic. She and her husband were hopeful this pregnancy would be a successful one.

“Baby Grace,” she says. “That was the baby we ended up terminating.”

When Thanksgiving came around, Tweedall was 12 weeks pregnant. She’d just had a checkup and an ultrasound, and had been told everything looked normal with her pregnancy. She went in for some noninvasive prenatal testing, per a suggestion from her doctor. These tests could tell her the sex of the fetus, and they could alert her doctor to the presence of trisomies—chromosomal abnormalities that could lead to fetal anomalies or miscarriage. Tweedall and her husband were excited to find out the sex, so they went in and completed the tests right before Thanksgiving. The doctors said they would hear back about their results just 10 days later.

“We did Thanksgiving with our families,” she says. “We announced our pregnancy to our extended families, and it was a really exciting time.” But when they got back from Thanksgiving, Tweedall and her husband still hadn’t gotten their results. The couple called the office repeatedly over the next three weeks, until a doctor finally told them they needed to come in. “I was hysterical, because I knew something was wrong,” she says. “She would have just told us everything was fine over the phone, but she wanted to see us.” At that point, Tweedall knew her fetus likely had a trisomy—though she had no idea which one.

Tweedall and her husband soon learned their fetus was female, but the tests also found trisomy 21—more commonly known as Down syndrome. “It was a lot of information coming at us all at once,” Tweedall says. She learned there was a small chance that there was a false positive—meaning her fetus wouldn’t actually have a trisomy. Tweedall was only 30 years old, so her risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome was 1 in 940. Her doctor recommended more tests to confirm the results, and the couple agreed.

“It was Christmas,” Tweedall says. “Everything was booked, and every sonogram place was closed for the holidays.” The couple got the earliest appointment available to them on December 28. In the meantime, Tweedall did some research. She reached out to the director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, and connected with a family who had children with Down syndrome. “I wanted to get a better idea about the condition,” she says. “It could lead to multiple surgeries and a very short suffering life for the child. Or the child could be very high-functioning and prosper. You just don’t know.”

For Tweedall and her husband, the next two weeks dragged on. “I don’t think I got out of bed very much,” she says. “You just feel really lost with a diagnosis like that.” When the couple finally went in for tests on December 28, they learned the fetus had both Down syndrome and hydrops fetalis—a condition in which the body fills with fluid. “It was a terrible day,” Tweedall says. “Her legs had stopped growing due to fluid. Our doctor told us there was no way this baby would survive more than a month or two of pregnancy.” Tweedall explains that if the pregnancy had been farther along, the doctor could have induced labor and tried to save the fetus. But Tweedall was only 17 weeks in. “At that point, there’s not much you can do when there’s that much fluid in the baby’s body,” she says.

The doctor told Tweedall that the pregnancy would become increasingly high-risk if she decided to carry it to term. “‘If she passes away, your body might take a while to realize she’s no longer living,'” Tweedall was warned. This increased Tweedall’s risk of hemorrhaging or contracting an infection.

“So my doctor recommended that I terminate the pregnancy—from a safety standpoint for me,” she says. Tweedall notes that many laws restricting abortion access are written to include exceptions for cases that endanger the life of the mother. “But it’s a hard thing, because that’s based on opinion,” she says. “Nobody told me I was going to die. My risk of death and hemorrhaging and infection increased if I continued—but it’s such a fine line. I’m a wife and a mother to a little boy—I want to be around for that.”

Tweedall’s doctor said the closest place that would perform a late-term abortion was a clinic in Atlanta. “It wasn’t even a conversation to see if anyone would do it here,” she says. “But I didn’t want to be away from everyone, sleeping in a hotel, and not even knowing or trusting the medical staff.” So Tweedall didn’t really look into going to Atlanta. Instead, she decided to take a trip to her hometown—Chicago—because she felt more comfortable being in a place where her parents still lived. “It’s scary enough that you’re going through all this,” she says. “To think you’re going to be in a clinic somewhere you aren’t familiar with is a lot to take in.” And Tweedall felt disappointed by the lack of support she was receiving from her medical staff in Tennessee. “Everyone just sorted of washed their hands of it and walked away,” she says.

So Tweedall planned to travel to Chicago to receive the medically necessary procedure. Beforehand, she had to fax over her medical records and send ultrasounds showing that the fetus had severe hydrops fetalis. “But I had to follow up with my doctor three or four times just to get her to send over the paperwork,” she says. “I called her office numerous times—and never got a call back.” Tweedall grew concerned. The Chicago hospital would only perform abortions on pregnancies under 20 weeks, and Tweedall was already at 17.5. “We were leading up to the new year,” she says. “It was the holidays—everyone was out of office. No one was responding, and the longer you wait, the more your risks increase and the more difficult the procedure becomes.”

Tweedall ended up terminating her pregnancy five days into the new year—on January 5, 2016. “It was the hardest thing of my entire life,” she says.

Tweedall says that after she came home to Tennessee, people kept trying to reassure her by saying that what she did “wasn’t an abortion.” “But I kept saying, ‘No—it is,” she says. “I wanted to reclaim the word abortion, because the stigmatized image people have of abortion isn’t always what it is.”

Tweedall later learned that she could have had her abortion at a Tennessee hospital, after all. The state’s laws permit women to have abortions at clinics until they’re 15 weeks pregnant. Then, between 15 weeks and fetal viability (20 to 22 weeks), a woman can have an abortion at a hospital. These medical facilities have the right to deny patients, meaning they’re not required to perform the procedure—they’re just permitted to. If Tweedall had been more aware of Tennessee’s laws, she might have avoided traveling 491 miles just to receive a safe, legal medical procedure she needed.

“It was just interesting to find out that technically my doctor should have fought for me,” she says. “But nobody did. Nobody fought for me. And that’s disheartening. You rely on your doctors—especially in a crisis situation—to give you accurate information. On top of it, you’re grieving the loss of your daughter. And it’s just—I don’t know—the regulations and the way I was treated by the medical team here in Tennessee didn’t make the situation any easier. I even had to call and follow up about our paperwork. Thank God for my husband, because he was doing most of it while I was on the floor crying. So to find out later that I technically should have been able to go home to my bed that night is just awful.”

And though reliving these experiences brings back negative feelings, Tweedall says it’s only getting easier to talk about. When I spoke with her in early January, she was about to give birth to another child. After three years, one miscarriage, and one abortion, she and her husband are finally welcoming a second child into their family. “It’s been a long nine months,” she says. “It’s been so long, and we’ve had to go through so much crap to get to this point.”

And whether her tragic experience is effecting change, inspiring open-mindedness, or making someone feel less alone, she’s happy to share it. “At least if my story can help somebody, it’s worth telling,” she says.

Source: Self

http://www.self.com/story/tennessee-abortion

4 Responses to “I Traveled 491 Miles to Receive the Abortion Procedure I Needed”


  1. The woman should be ashamed of herself. So-called “pro-lifer” John Dunkle would have either raised the child for her or at least paid the couple the $260,000 it takes to raise an abled child to adulthood. That’s proof of how concerned he is for other people’s pregnancy.

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  2. John Dunkle Says:

    You folks love the hard cases, don’t you: “Look how she suffered. To avoid suffering we have to make it easier to murder the unchosen.” Comes right from the Nazi Handbook. Doesn’t call them “unchosen” though, calls them “untermenschen.”

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  3. David Says:

    God’s plan at work, right John? The plan is for Tweedall to have a miscarriage and then a fetus with Down syndrome and hydrops fetalis. The plan is for her to have an abortion. If she does not followed the plan, she might die, leaving her first born without a mother and her husband without his wife. Fortunately, she follows the plan and is rewarded with a full term pregnancy ending in a successful birth.

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    1. John Dunkle Says:

      Translate this, Chuck.

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