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Op-ed: This is personal

I have been struggling to find what to say about the atrocity SCOTUS recently committed. To blithely strip the right to control our bodies for half of our population — it is beyond comprehension to me.

I am so angry and appalled! I have no adequate words to express my rage and grief, because I don’t think superlatives vile and bitter enough exist in the English language! So, I have decided to tell my own story, in the hope that someone will be heartened or rest better knowing that they are not alone.

Almost 14 years ago, I gave birth to my youngest child. I decided to have my tubes tied because the pregnancy had been very rough; the doctor warned that the next would likely be much more difficult, possibly life-threatening. So, the day my youngest was born, the doctor performed a tubal ligation and effectively sterilized me. No more kids!

Fast forward a few years, and one month, my period was late. I didn’t think too much of it; I’d been under some stress and I’d had my tubes tied. Surely I wasn’t pregnant! But a week later, I took a test, “just to make sure.” Imagine my surprise and dismay when it came back positive!

I cried. And I cried. And then I cried some more. I knew the pregnancy was unplanned; neither my husband nor I had planned on or desired any more children. I also knew, because I’d had my tubes tied, it might be an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that implants outside the uterus, usually in a Fallopian tube). If it was an ectopic pregnancy, it would have to be surgically aborted. If it wasn’t, I was facing one of the most painful choices of my life; but not really a choice at all, as I had two children at home who needed their mother, and another pregnancy for me would be dangerous and difficult.

As soon as I took the test, I made an appointment with an OB/GYN to assess the pregnancy and discuss my options. At the first appointment, they did an ultrasound and informed me that I wasn’t pregnant; they couldn’t find an embryo in my uterus, even with the most sensitive and invasive ultrasound equipment.

I’d been having some pain in my lower abdomen even before I took the test, but I’m prone to kidney stones, and even though the pain wasn’t quite the same or in exactly the same spot, I brushed it off as a stone moving around. However, with the new symptoms of a positive pregnancy test and empty uterus, I knew I was probably dealing with an ectopic pregnancy. I knew that the pregnancy was not viable (no pregnancy that implants outside the uterus is viable or can be made so through medical intervention). I knew it meant surgery, hopefully minimally invasive (it wasn’t), and an emotional and physical recovery period.

I ended up having a huge incision across my lower abdomen so that the embryo, affected tube, and ovary on that side could be removed. The recovery was physically very hard, but emotionally, I was a wreck. It took me months to be able to look at a baby and not well up with tears. I grieved that embryo for the child it might have been, if things had been different for us.

But things were not different. The circumstances in which we found ourselves are not unique. Birth control fails. Women get pregnant every day, against their will and wishes. We need to be able to decide what’s best for us and our families. Abortion is healthcare. Abortion saved my life. Abortion helped me stick around to be a mom to my already-born and very much NOT “hypothetical” or “potential” children.

The Supreme Court has decided I should not have the ability to make decisions regarding my own healthcare or what’s best for my family. Five people stripped the rights away from half our population. To say I am angry is absolutely the understatement of the century. I am beyond livid.

And I will never stop fighting for human rights, equal rights, for everyone.

***

Andrea “Red” Greer is a candidate for House of Delegates from District 13.

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