Jason Stanford, 7/15/2013 [Archive]

Miscarriage in Texas

Miscarriage in Texas

By Jason Stanford

To understand why Texas' new anti-abortion law is an invasion of privacy, you have to know my friend. It's a sad story, and despite what Texas Republicans might claim, it has nothing to do with abortion. It does have to do with a woman's wellbeing, however, which is why his story is important.

About 10 years ago my friend (let's call him Griffin) and his wife (call her Meredith) wanted badly to start a family. Unfortunately, it wasn't easy for them. They saw doctors, took shots, underwent expensive tests, and suffered the emotional equivalent of a tax audit every time they took a pregnancy test. Meredith was a wreck, and Griffin did all he could to love on her.

The last thing in the world they would have done after all the pain and expense was terminate a pregnancy. There is no one more personally pro-life in the world than a couple trying to have a baby. It doesn't matter where you stand on abortion rights. When it comes to getting pregnancy, you're keeping the baby. It's the whole point.

So when Meredith and Griffin got pregnant, they were overjoyed. There had been a few miscarriages, but Griffin and his wife got excited. There was a heartbeat. They allowed themselves to believe, to hope, to think about baby names. It was finally going to happen.

One day they went in for a sonogram. If you've ever done this, you know how precariously hope perches over fear until you see the heartbeat on the screen and hear it amplified in the exam room. You suppress the panic because of course everything's OK, right? And usually it is, but this time it wasn't. Telling this story for the first time a decade later, Griffin cried. Ten years is a long time to carry that pain inside.

Unlike the previous miscarriages that resolved themselves naturally and without intervention, now Meredith had a dead embryo inside of her, and it needed to come out. Her doctor prescribed mifepristone, a synthetic steroid compound that can be used both as an emergency contraceptive and as an abortifacient. In Meredith's case, the drug would evacuate the uterine lining and expel the lifeless embryo.

Miscarriages occur in 25 percent of all pregnancies. In the first trimester, taking mifepristone (AKA, the "abortion pill") is a common remedy. Meredith's doctor gave them a prescription and sent them home. It's not a "take two aspirin and call me in the morning" kind of deal. On top of the emotional trauma, there's a lot of bleeding and cramping. You need to be in a comfortable place.

Picking up the medicine was a slice of hell. Griffin remembers the pharmacist said something to the effect of "I'm guessing you know what you're doing." Griffin felt like he and his wife were being condemned for terminating a pregnancy. He's never been back to that pharmacy.

All Griffin remembers from those next two days are offering emotional support, crying a lot, and encouraging Meredith that they would try again, and next time it would work. It did. They ended up having a girl. And then they had twins. You've never seen a happier family.

Now, instead of just a judgmental pharmacist, couples in their situation have to deal with a state law that treats their miscarriage like an elective abortion. Under the new Texas law, Griffin would have had to take his wife to an ambulatory surgical center twice in two days to take the pills in the presence of a doctor, exposing their broken hearts and raw nerves to a clinical environment. A Texas husband is now powerless to protect his wife from enduring in public what is best handled at home in private.

This is my friend's story. It's private. It's really none of my business, and I'm sure you would agree that it's none of your business, either. The only people that should have anything to do with the decision on how to treat my friend's wife are her, her husband, and her doctor. But by literally adding insult to injury, the Texas legislature has made it their business, too.

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©Copyright 2013 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Jason Stanford is a Democratic consultant who writes columns for the Austin American-Statesman and MSNBC. He can be reached at stanford@oppresearch.com and on Twitter @JasStanford.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.



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