Putting Our Medical Care into Unqualified Hands

Photo by Louis Galvez on Unsplash

By Kimberly Poovey

When I was in middle school, my mother was pregnant with a dearly-wanted baby. We were all so excited for this little one’s arrival. I couldn’t wait to be a big sister all over again. 

Near the end of my mom’s first trimester, I vividly remember my parents returning home from a routine prenatal appointment with their heads hung low. Mom walked into the house crying. Dad gently told me that the baby didn’t have a heartbeat anymore. 

We were gutted. I was devastated. My young heart had not even considered that this baby could be lost. I couldn’t imagine that things could get any worse. 

But they did.

Soon, mom started bleeding, a normal and heartwrenching part of enduring a miscarriage. But for my mom, the bleeding didn’t stop. My dad, always the rock of our family, stayed calm and protected me and my little brother from the worst of if, but eventually I had to see what was happening. 

I walked into my parents’ bedroom to find mom laying on the floor, her usually rosy face paler and more ashen than I’d ever seen. In the bathroom, I found a large pile of blood-soaked towels. A literal pile. It was so much blood that I couldn’t imagine there was much left in her body. My own blood ran cold; it was the sharpest fear I’d ever felt in my short life. 

Despite my mother’s protests, dad called 911. When the paramedics arrived, they complimented my parents’ big four-poster bed. Mom responded with what a great deal she’d gotten on it, and somewhere in my heart, I knew she would ultimately be ok. 

She was rushed to the hospital for an emergency D&C to stop the hemorrhaging while a neighbor stayed with us kids. 

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to leave abortion care laws up to the states, states can now choose to make a D&C procedure illegal to obtain. Had my mother not had access to this care, she would have died.

Lawmakers are not medical professionals. Many lack even the most basic knowledge of medical care, terms, and procedures. This is extremely dangerous because lawmakers, not doctors, can now choose to enact laws that do not make medical sense. 

For example, in 2019, “a bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to ‘reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into a woman’s uterus – a procedure that does not exist in medical science – or face charges of ‘abortion murder’. This is the second time practicing obstetricians and gynecologists have tried to tell the Ohio legislators that the idea is currently medically impossible.” –The Guardian

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure to remove tissue from inside your uterus. Health care providers perform dilation and curettage to diagnose and treat certain uterine conditions — such as heavy bleeding — or to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage or abortion.” D&Cs are used for abortion care, yes, but they are also used in other critical, often life-saving medical situations. This is just one example of why leaving medical decisions up to the individual and their doctor is absolutely essential.

I dredge up all of these painful memories to say this: abortion is a wildly personal, wildly nuanced topic. It is not black and white as I was raised to believe. Should a lawmaker have decided when and how my mother could recieve urgent, lifesaving care? Absolutely not. And her story is not unique; her story is one of millions.

This is what being pro-choice means: leaving deeply personal, deeply nuanced decisions to the individual and their healthcare providers. Full stop.

My words come from the perspective of a person who worked in full-time “pro-life ministry” for a decade of my life. (You can read more about that journey here.) Those years gave me a stark lesson in just how nuanced each of these personal choices really are.

Overturning Roe v. Wade is not saving babies, it’s putting medical control over bodies with uteruses into unqualified hands.

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