What Is the Impact of an Overturned Roe on Grieving Mothers?

This morning while reading a New York Times newsletter, I learned that there was a leaked document that appeared to be an opinion written by the Supreme Court indicating their intention to overturn Roe v. Wade. While I am hoping that with the newly elected Ketanji Brown Jackson, there will (finally) be some sensible arguments in the highest court as to why Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, but that is not the point of this article.

Whenever I have the opportunity to read about the pro life or pro choice debates, it often discusses the opportunity for women to choose when and under what circumstances they have children or, the opposite, the lack of opportunity to choose when someone else’s life enters this world under your care. However, one thing I have rarely read about is the impact that an overturned Roe v. Wade would have on grieving mothers.

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for about a year now and we have had little success with an unknown reason that my doctors cannot seem to figure out. I can, and likely will in the future, go on to say how horrible the healthcare system is for young Black and clinically obese women who are trying to conceive, but I will leave that for another article. Today I would like to talk about our experience as grieving parents.

On January 5, 2022 my husband and I learned that we were pregnant! How exciting! After trying to conceive for months and not knowing why we could not do so, we were ecstatic. I immediately called my doctor and scheduled a sonogram for two days later. I did not know how far along I was, but the doctor would be able to tell me in two short days! In those two days I took a blood test which the HCG levels indicated that I was about 10 weeks along. I immediately went home and put away all the wine and bought my favorite caffeine-free tea as my pregnancy drink of choice.

January 7, 2022 felt like it took forever to come, but my husband and I both took the day off of work and went in to have my sonogram. The nurse brought us back and conducted the sonogram; what felt like 30 minutes later but was probably more like 30 seconds, the nurse said, “there is nothing in the sack.” Just as dryly and bluntly as I wrote it here. Being as this was my first time being pregnant, I had no idea what that meant. She sent us back out to the waiting room, anxious and crying.

When we finally got the opportunity to talk to my doctor, several tears and envious pregnant women stares later, we were told that I had had a miscarriage. This was devastating enough, but I had no idea what was in store for me over the next several weeks.

Over the next several days I began bleeding, it was painful and traumatic because I knew that was me losing my desperately-desired baby. It did not stop with a normal menstrual bleed, but over the next few weeks, as I visited the hospital and my doctor several more times, I experienced deathly painful contractions and golf-ball-sized clots of tissue coming out of my body. I must have been in the restroom for a total of 4 days over the next two and a half weeks.

Finally, there was some relief! My doctor prescribed Misoprostol because my body was experiencing so much trauma from the pregnancy loss and the sack tissue was not passing quickly enough. The options to clear my uterus of the fetal tissue were either a D&C or Misoprostol. Both options are tactics for an abortion.

After having had this experience and subsequently reading about all of the horrible new abortion laws in Texas and elsewhere, I realized that the overturn of Roe v. Wade can really negatively impact a lot more women than we think. I am not against abortions; I believe that women should have the right to choose when and how they have or do not have children. However, I do believe that I, with my current familial desires and circumstances, am not in the position to want or need an abortion anytime soon. But that was not so true this past January. In fact, I needed the “abortion pill” for my own medical comfort and to prevent additional trauma to my body.

So, while we continue to argue about whether it is constitutional for the Supreme Court to rule over abortion rights, let us all remember how many people are supported by the right to have a Misoprostol or a D&C when the choice becomes necessary. Grieving mothers do not deserve to suffer through the agony of a pregnancy loss without other options for comfort. The emotional pain is traumatic enough to then also have to endure the physical toll.

The reason to support the continued precedence of Roe v. Wade is obvious because of a woman’s right to choose; but this is just another way to understand what choices you are supporting. Food for thought.

Thank you for engaging with my perspective.

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Camille Cipollone

Camille Cipollone

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My goal is to help create a world where Black women are free; that way everyone else can be free, too.