I am one of the millions who have faced the heartbreak of pregnancy loss. This year, the battle over reproductive rights took on a whole new meaning for me.
On Dec. 13, 2021, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I also found out I was pregnant.
A whirlwind of tests and doctor’s visits occupied the waning days of my 2021. In one day, my focus shifted from adding to our little family of three to surviving stage-2 breast cancer for my young son and husband.
Unfortunately, I miscarried the pregnancy; and needed a dilation and curettage procedure, better known as a D&C. The D&C procedure is used as a method of clearing tissue along the uterine wall after a miscarriage and other medical conditions, as well as a method of abortion.
The ability to quickly schedule the procedure meant that not only did I receive care that prevented near-sepsis, but I also was able to start chemotherapy two weeks later.
This is also a medical procedure threatened by policies restricting access to abortion services.
In May, a draft of what is likely the Supreme Court’s reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions was leaked to the press — confirming in a moment the worst fears of abortion and reproductive-rights advocates. In June we heard the decision to overturn Roe.
This is about partisan politics for some. For others, it is about a fundamental question of economic subordination, bodily autonomy and white supremacy. Regardless of personal positions, the reality for millions of people who have ever been — or tried to get — pregnant, this is about the right to basic health care services.
Access to abortion should not be determined by the whims of elected officials. The idea that any American should feel lucky to control their own life flies in the face of the freedoms we are guaranteed. I’m glad I live in a state where the majority of my state representatives understand that.
In March, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and Gov. Jared Polis signed it into law a few weeks later. The act codifies a person’s reproductive choices. Individuals will have the right to choose contraception, or to refuse contraception to choose to give birth, or to have an abortion.
Additionally, under the act, a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights. As much as I wanted my pregnancy, if the fetus had independent rights I may have been forced to carry to term and become septic in the process. It would have been my life in exchange for a life that could not survive.
I have never been so hurt and frightened by the rhetoric of elected officials who clearly have no idea of the true impact access to abortion and reproductive health care has on women like me. During the legislative debates, State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer and Republican colleagues in both the House and Senate made commentary about the use of D&Cs — a procedure that is used in basic women’s health care.
I wondered if they’d ever dealt with the trauma of losing a pregnancy and needing that procedure? Did they know that a D&C is also used to address and cure serious uterine issues for women that are unrelated to pregnancy? Do they even care? More than 1 million American women every year lose a pregnancy, and the Supreme Court’s decision has very real implications, not only for abortion access but also simple procedures and medication that are part of basic OBGYN care.
I am still processing my own story and grief, as it is complex and layered, like the stories of so many women who need abortion and reproductive health care. But the scary part of this is that anti-abortion interest groups are gearing up for yet another “personhood” abortion ban constitutional amendment on the Colorado ballot.
Heidi Ganahl is working as hard as she can to push fervent anti-abortion, anti-reproductive health care agendas. Moreover, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Joe O’Dea openly opposed the Reproductive Health Equity Act. Kirkmeyer, the Republican nominee for U.S. House in Colorado’s 8th District where I live, has also described herself as staunchly anti-abortion and anti-reproductive freedom.
Colorado voters have been clear that they do not want a ban on abortion, rejecting every single attempt to ban abortion since 2008. By elevating candidates like O’Dea and Ganahl – who are ambiguous on their abortion stance at best, and attempting to hide their anti-abortion stances at worst, Republicans show just how out of touch they are with Coloradans; and that their candidates are a danger to women’s freedoms.
Sara Loflin, of Erie, is executive director of Progress Now Colorado.