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This week, Senate Republicans are scheduled to advance a nationwide ban on abortion care after 20 weeks, with no exceptions to protect a woman’s health or in cases of fetal abnormalities. This bill is just the latest measure in a coordinated effort to ban abortion and erode access to reproductive health care, piece by piece. Among other penalties, this bill also threatens doctors with five years’ prison time for violating the ban. 

In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I eagerly planned our family. I relished my pregnancy and, when the time came, wondered at my daughter and the deep power I had in her creation.

We tried again to grow our family, but experienced only miscarriage. Three in a row. By the time another baby finally took, the expansiveness and easy hope of my first pregnancy was stifled by bad luck.

The first trimester came and went, then the second. Still, I felt anxious. At 7 months, I tried to think positively. I picked up my knitting needles and began a tiny sweater for this next baby girl. I was working the final rows of that sweater at an ultrasound, which my midwife hoped would ease my relentless worry. When she saw me knitting, the doctor’s eyes welled with tears.

She showed me black marks on my daughter’s ultrasounds: large, fluid-filled holes in my baby’s brain. She named it: Dandy Walker Malformation, and referred me to a neurologist to learn more. She listed my options: adoption, abortion, or parenting this child with heavy medical intervention for her short life. If I chose to deliver my baby, it would be a high-risk birth for both of us, complicated by my baby’s condition.

Why was she offering me these choices? Didn’t she know how deeply I loved my baby? I tried to respond, but could only manage a question, “There are abortions for women like me?” I was 35 weeks pregnant. I wondered if there had been a mistake.

“We don’t know.” She said. “We used to send women to Kansas. But we can’t anymore.”

WHEN I CALLED MY HUSBAND FROM THE HUMMING DARKNESS OF THE ULTRASOUND ROOM, THE ONLY SOUND I COULD MUSTER WAS A DEEP, LONG WAIL.

I understood. The doctor who performed abortions for women 35 weeks pregnant had been shot by a man who followed him to his church. Somewhere in my brain, the memory of that news story revealed itself along with the stark understanding that I was entering a world in which people might want to shoot me, too, depending on my choice.

I shut it all out. When I called my husband from the humming darkness of the ultrasound room, the only sound I could muster was a deep, long wail.

The neurologist delivered more bad news: additional brain anomalies. My little daughter would likely never walk, talk, swallow, or support the weight of her head. She would require brain surgery to extend her life, but no surgery could ever cure her.

“What can she do?” I asked. “Does a child like mine just sleep all day?”

He winced at the question. “Children like yours are not generally comfortable enough to sleep.”

My wall of hope and denial crashed down around me. I could not subject my child to that kind of suffering. I wished for a miracle, but I would not risk my daughter’s wellbeing. My heart sang clearly: I would give my daughter peace. Abortion was the choice to meet our family’s values and our daughter’s needs—it was the option we could live with.

My pregnancy was so advanced, there was only one clinic in the entire country that would take us. It was a Friday afternoon when we found them, 2000 miles away. The clinic instructed us to fly Monday, get a hotel for the week, and come to the clinic first-thing Tuesday with $25,000 for a four-day outpatient procedure. We did not have that kind of money, but I agreed without hesitation, determined to figure something out. With the help of family, we did.

Our time in Colorado was deeply beautiful and crushingly sad. My care was kind, legal, compassionate, and, most importantly, safe. On the first day of the procedure, my doctor carefully, gently, lay my baby to rest in my womb. Her motion slowed and then stopped. Through my tears, I thought about that injection, one shot. It pales in comparison to the interventions she would have endured to live even one day on this Earth.

It has been five years since I lost my daughter Laurel, since I gave her the gift of peace. I carry these memories with me every day, the memories of her body, heavy on my lap. The memory of her living, moving, wriggling in my womb. The memory of my desperation, when I found myself cast out of care at home in Massachusetts. The understanding that I would have done anything, no matter how dangerous, to save my baby from a lifetime of suffering.

GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE, LIKE ABORTION BANS, MAKES HARD SITUATIONS WORSE, FORCING FAMILIES TO GREATER EXTREMES.

Before I found myself in this dire position, I never understood the need for third trimester abortion. In my naivety, I did not realize that extreme actions are inspired by extreme circumstances. Good people in hard times must do hard things. Government interference, like abortion bans, makes hard situations worse, forcing families to greater extremes. Care becomes dangerous, and tragedy is compounded. Women and families in these devastatingly complex situations need trust and support, and that’s why organizations like NARAL fight for families like mine

Mine was a hard, painful choice. I carry it, but I have never once regretted it because I followed my heart and my values and did the best I could for my daughter. It is a terrible thing to have to choose between peace and life—but it is important that families, not committees, not politicians, not governments, make the best informed decisions for our children. We do so with deep and abiding love that cannot be duplicated in Congress.

Source: http://www.elle.com/culture/a15911671/late-abortion-senate-vote-2018/