Trying to get an abortion in Texas
Valerie Peterson in the NY Times describes the difficulties she faced in Texas in getting an abortion (which, it should be noted, is perfectly legal and protected by law):
ANY day now, the Supreme Court is going to decide whether women everywhere have full access to the right to an abortion, or just those who live in the right ZIP code — and whether any other woman in Texas, where I live, will have to go through what I did last fall.
The abortion restrictions that the court is currently considering, whichwere passed in 2013 under the pretext of protecting women’s health and safety, are really nothing more than unnecessary obstacles. In my life, they made a devastating situation much worse.
Nearly six months after my abortion I still carry the scars of the experience — not of the procedure itself, which was a blessing I will never regret, but of how hard it was to get the care I needed in the state where I live.
I’m already a mother of two. And after years of being told I couldn’t have any more children, I was shocked when my doctor told me last summer that I was pregnant. I wanted another child, and I immediately began prenatal care.
Because of high blood pressure, mine was considered a high-riskpregnancy and I had to have ultrasound scans every two weeks. At my 12-week scan, I was told that there was a possible anomaly in the baby’s brain, but more testing was needed. For the next several weeks, I went in for additional tests. I barely slept.
At my 16-week appointment, I knew that we would be able to get a diagnosis. I’d know if the baby was healthy or not. The appointment was extremely long. At a certain point, they brought in a second ultrasound technician, and that’s when I got really nervous.
The doctor came to talk with me. He went slide by slide, picture by picture of my baby’s brain, face and head.
“This is what it’s supposed to look like, but this is what it actually looks like,” he said, with each slide.
The sonogram clearly showed my son’s brain hadn’t developed into two halves, and there was a hole between the brain and the spinal cord. My doctor confirmed the diagnosis: Alobar holoprosencephaly. My doctor gave me two options: I could try to carry the pregnancy to term, which would most likely end in either miscarriage or the delivery of a stillborn baby. At best, the doctors said the baby might live a couple of minutes. Or I could terminate the pregnancy.
I was devastated by the diagnosis and these two terrible options. I knew immediately, though. Once I saw the pictures of his brain, I knew that continuing to carry this pregnancy would have traumatic emotional and physical consequences. And not just for me but also for my two children, who were excited about having another sibling.
I asked the doctor if he could admit me to the hospital that day. He explained that I would need to be referred to an abortion provider.
Unfortunately, the state of Texas had already passed an onerous anti-abortion law requiring, among other things, that doctors who perform the procedure have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that all health care facilities where abortions are performed meet specific building requirements. These measures forced the closure of more than half the abortion clinics in the state.
After my doctor called the clinic, I was told I would have to wait three to four weeks for the next available appointment. There was no way I could wait that long. Not only would I be carrying a baby I knew wouldn’t survive, but that kind of wait could push me past the 20-week mark after which almost all abortions are illegal in Texas.
My doctor was able to find me an appointment the following week instead. But when I found out the procedure would then take three to four days to complete as a result of other restrictions that include mandatory counseling, a required sonogram and an additional 24-hour waiting period, I broke down.
I didn’t know how I was going to make it that long. One unnecessary additional day was one more than I could bear.
Through a friend, I was connected to a clinic in Florida that caters to women who are terminating for medical reasons, and I spoke to the doctor and nurse there. The doctor explained that Florida didn’t have a 24-hour waiting period, and they could get me in the next day. . .