I’ve been processing. I’ve started to write this three different times. The first time was through tears when I first heard the news. The second time was in pure anger and with a clenched jaw. And now, I’m hoping to write this in a loving, compassionate way in order to educate how overturning Roe V Wade will affect the miscarriage community. (some anger and sadness may still creep in through this article)
It may seem like someone who has experienced six miscarriages and who has been traumatized by Recurrent Pregnancy Loss would be pro-life but in fact the complete opposite is true. As someone who works daily with women who have experienced a miscarriage and as someone who has heard the horror stories of their losses, I can see just how horrendous this decision is going to be for our community. Women are going to stop going to the doctor or the hospital if they are experiencing a miscarriage for fear of being investigated and accused of a crime.
The draft supreme court decision (which, come on, we all know is going to go through, it’s just a matter of time) to rip reproductive rights away from women, is grounded in the 14th amendment as well as privacy. Here’s why the privacy part is so important. What is going to happen when a woman goes to her doctor for a miscarriage? If the privacy you have with you and your doctor is removed, what is going to stop these people from investigating you if you have a miscarriage? A miscarriage and an abortion look identical. In fact, a miscarriage is often referred to in the medical community as a spontaneous abortion. As I write this, Louisiana has advanced a bill that says life begins at the moment of fertilization. This will criminalize contraceptives, IVF AND miscarriages.
A little background, in case you aren’t familiar with my story or with miscarriages in general. I have had six miscarriages. Five of them were considered “early” miscarriages and one of them was further along resulting in a D&C. My husband and I got pregnant with what would have been our fourth child. At our 10-week appointment, I was told that the baby did not have a heartbeat. I was devasted. The doctor brought me to his office and explained my options. Unfortunately, this is the one appointment my husband was unable to make, so I was alone in this decision. My doctor told me that I could wait and see if my body miscarried on its own or I could schedule a D&C. I already knew the decision I had to make. I had already experienced 4 miscarriages. I knew the physical pain of those “early” losses. I knew what it was like to start bleeding at work while teaching. I knew I couldn’t do that again. I knew that I couldn’t sit around, waiting, not knowing when or how it would happen. Would I be at work? Would I be in the middle of teaching a lesson? Would I be at home, playing or reading to my boys? I also knew that I couldn’t go through that physical pain. The cramping I had experienced with the other four losses was extreme, how could I do this again with a baby that was further along? I chose the D&C. I chose it. Without my husband. I chose it. I made that decision. It was a decision between my doctor and myself. My doctor supported it. My husband supported it. My family supported it. But it didn’t matter if they supported it or not, it was MY CHOICE!
What I didn’t know was that when you have a D&C, you are given a little pill before it, Misotrol. You are supposed to take that pill in order to “start the process”. This pill is given to women who are having a miscarriage as well as to women who are having an abortion. (BTW, D&C’s are coded as an abortion for insurance purposes, it doesn’t matter if it was chosen or not). This brings me back to my earlier point, how can you tell if a woman is having a miscarriage or if she had decided to have an abortion? It all comes down to privacy. The privacy between a doctor and their patient will be violated, will be stripped away. Every miscarriage will be investigated.
So, tell me, do you think a woman who is going through a miscarriage is going to go to her doctor if she thinks she is going to be investigated or even worse, arrested? So, what will happen to these women? They will suffer in silence. And possibly worse, they will die. Yes, you can die from a miscarriage. If they do not receive the medical care they so desperately need, they will die. So, now we have women who, again, are left to suffer alone, too scared to ask for help. Shamed. Tabooed. Traumatized. And possibly dead. Again, you think I’m exaggerating? Let’s look at Missouri and Ectopic pregnancies. Missouri is proposing that their abortion ban will NOT make exceptions for an Ectopic pregnancy. What is an Ectopic pregnancy? It’s a pregnancy where the fetus develops outside the uterus. It is very common (1 in 100 pregnancies) and is life threating to the woman if left to develop. And Missouri (and I’m sure other states) is ok with a woman losing her life for this. What if that woman is already a mom? What happens to those children? They grow up without a mother because the state decided that her life wasn’t as important as a fetus?!!!
There are so many horrendous implications of overturning Roe V Wade. Miscarriage is just one aspect of it. Women experiencing a miscarriage are not going to receive the resources or support they need to help them emotionally heal. No one should go through this grief alone. Every woman deserves to be supported and to have access to resources to help them heal. And now that right is being ripped away.
What can we do? Honestly, I didn’t have an answer to this for a while. For the first three days after the leak, I just stared at the wall, stuck in fear. But fear gets us nowhere. So here are a few of my suggestions:
- Anne Lamott (author) said this after the draft was leaked “The best action to take if you’re feeling defeated and/or enraged is to take a big bag of groceries over to the nearest food pantry. Then, while you are there, tell everyone there how glad you are to see them, especially the kids and the very old. I promise: this will change you”
The best way to move through our anger is to take one positive step forward. What will your positive step forward be?
- If you don’t have the financial mean to donate to causes you believe in, volunteer your time. Surround yourself with people who have a similar mission as you do. You aren’t alone in this.
- Talk to as many people that will listen to you. Note, I’m not saying to argue. Know that there are people out there who you can’t talk to about this and who aren’t willing to educate themselves on this matter. Don’t waste your energy. But there are people out there who do want to learn more and who want to understand, those are the people to talk to. When I was younger, I was pro-life (it’s how I was raised). I didn’t understand all the implications of it and wasn’t educated in what pro-life and pro-choice actually meant. Once I started listening to people and educating myself on the topic, I quickly became changed my views.
- Take breaks (this one is more of a reminder to myself). Take social media and news breaks. Notice the good things around you and ground yourself in that for a while. It can be easy to let the fear, anger and sadness of this time take over, don’t let it. It’s absolutely possible to be angry AND filled with joy. Let this anger move you forward but don’t let it take over your true spirit. It’s ok to take a break. One of the things I have noticed and am grateful for is that when you step back, you can see how many people are willing to fight for this cause. This means that it’s ok for you to pass the baton on to someone else when you need to rest. Don’t worry, you can pick up that baton again, step back into the race and keep going.
- Vote! Vote in every darn election, no matter how big or small. We are seeing how every election has gotten us to this point in history. We can change it but it’s going to take some effort on our part. It’s time.
Please, if you are experiencing a miscarriage or know someone who is, contact your doctor, especially if you think you are experiencing complications. If you are looking for a safe, supportive community to help you grieve and heal, join the Miscarriage Warrior App.