I had an ectopic pregnancy in 2009. It was a pregnancy I wanted desperately. When the pain started, I tried to tough it out, thinking I could manage a miscarriage at home.
When the bleeding and the pain continued to worsen, I was triaged to the head of the line at the ER and immediately administered methotrexate, a cancer drug meant to break up the cells rapidly multiplying in my fallopian tube. Without the methotrexate, my fallopian tube would have burst and I could have died as a result. Despite what some idiot legislators think, ectopic pregnancies are not viable and can not be “moved into the uterus.” I am super glad that methotrexate stopped those cells multiplying; and am still shocked that no follow up care or support was offered. Instead, I painfully passed a bloody mass later in the week in a bathroom stall at work. I worked for the rest of the day because I was out of leave time and no one talks about miscarriage, forget ectopic pregnancies. The hormonal cascade of lost pregnancy was nearly unbearable; no one prepared me for it.
Then, I had two lovely babies, one born at 31 weeks and the other born at 35 weeks. Both required extensive and expensive oversight and treatment in the NICU for weeks or months. Without excellent insurance, without a supportive family, without a partner who had a stable job, I would never have been able to care for those two beautiful babies who are now rambunctious kiddos. Preemies require endless months of living in that newborn phase of no sleep, constant feeding, pumping and nursing where possible, extra monitoring, extra hospital and doctor visits, and plenty of skin to skin time. After my second baby was born early for reasons still undiscernible, I knew I could not risk another pregnancy.
We have a society with devastatingly inadequate health access, no right to paid parental leave, no adequate or affordable child care, and no in-home taxpayer funded maternal support or newborn care. Our public education system is crumbling, we have a school shooting crisis and we treat/pay teachers terribly. We have not created any of the infrastructure that would suggest we care at all about the lives of children, or their mothers.
Women are, without question, the only people in a position to make decisions about their bodies, their health, their ability to carry a pregnancy to term, and their ability to handle the risks and responsibilities of childbirth and raising children. This is especially true because in our broken society, we place nearly the entire burden of caring for pregnancies and for children in the hands of mothers, and we spend very little (almost nothing compared to other industrial countries) to support them.
As for people out there who feel like they need to save children, they can start by busting kids out of immigration internment camps, then they can demand legislation to create national health care, affordable and high-quality child care, robust paid parental leave, taxpayer funded in-home newborn and maternal support. Then they can reform labor and delivery practices so they are humane and make breastfeeding support widespread. When those are established, they can get to work on better housing and food subsidies, gun control and a robust public education system.