A Senator’s Wife Was Nearly Denied A Life-Saving Abortion & That’s Why He’s Committed to Reproductive Rights

by Natalie Kiser

As pro-choice activists grow more and more concerned over the fate of Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks, and having just celebrated an uncertain 49th anniversary of the landmark court case giving birthing people a right to privacy as they make the decision to have abortions, it’s more and more clear that the ability to make this healthcare decision is a vital one for families.

Every person’s reproductive health story is unique and their relationship to the abortions they did or did not have are just as diverse. In an essay for PEOPLE, U.S. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan shared how his family’s experience with an abortion (due to the loss of a wanted pregnancy) played into their lives and why defending abortion rights remains a necessity for all our communities.

“For many, this issue is not just about a legal case. It’s about extremely tough, heart-breaking, painful decisions,” Peters wrote. “ I know that, because, like so many folks, it was a situation my own family faced.”

Peters shares that he and his wife were previously preparing for a wanted second pregnancy when her water broke at just four months. Realizing there was no way to safely carry the pregnancy to term, they had to accept the loss and prepare for a miscarriage. Only that miscarriage didn’t come.

Eventually, as Peters writes, he and his wife needed to return to the doctor and consider other options — as the risk of a sepsis infection harming her further were high.

“Our doctor went to the hospital board, asking for an exception to their policy prohibiting abortions. I remember what happened next, vividly. He left us a message on our answering machine. He’d been refused an exemption because there was a faint heartbeat detected, even though there was no chance for the fetus to survive,” Peters writes. “He told us the decision was just based on politics, not good medical advice or practices. He recommended we find another physician immediately due to worries about her health.”

Luckily, Peters shares that they were able to get his wife admitted to another hospital (via a friend) and found that the procedure was incredibly necessary in order to save her life.

“It was the kind of experience no one plans for or imagines — and one that you wish nobody would ever experience,” Peters said. “ But the fact is: this  is happening — all across our country. And while we were fortunate to see another doctor quickly — so many are not.”

Peters went on to share just how this experience cemented his view of abortion access and how he hoped sharing his family’s own deeply personal heartbreak would draw attention to “the kind of real, gut-wrenching and complicated circumstances families face.”

Looking forward toward the Supreme Court ruling on Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban, he felt compelled to once again unearth this trauma (something, I repeat, no person should ever have to do!) with the hopes that it will galvanize people who don’t consider abortion rights to be their problem.

“The power of the Senate to confirm or reject Supreme Court Justices means Senate campaigns are the frontlines of the fight. We must send a firm message: attacks on Roe v. Wade and the rights of women to make their own health care choices will not be tolerated,” Peters said. “My story is one that is very personal, and painful — and folks all across the country face  similar situations each and every day. That is why we cannot afford to go backwards. In 2022, we must protect the right of patients to make their own medical decisions without interference from politics.”

Before you go, check out our favorite mental health apps for giving your brains a little more TLC: 

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