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ReproJustice Roadtrip: A Couple Facing Late Abortion Finds Red-state Obstacles in a Blue State

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Written by Khadine Bennett for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

RH Reality Check is partnering with the American Civil Liberties Union to publish stories from a reproductive justice roadtrip through Illinois.

One of the reasons  we decided to embark on this road trip for reproductive health and access was that we wanted to provide individuals in Illinois with the opportunity to share, in their own words, examples of barriers they face when attempting to access reproductive health care and information. Today's post will feature Amy S, a lifelong Illinois resident who currently lives in the Chicago suburbs. Amy's experience when faced with the difficult decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy echoes that of two other women (one from central Illinois and the other from northwestern Illinois) who have reached out to us while on the road. We would like to thank Amy for her willingness to share her experience with all of you.

Amy S. – In Her Own Words:

In 2006, I was expecting my second child.  My husband and I are college sweethearts and will be married 14 years this year.  Our son Aidan was four at the time.  My pregnancy was uneventful.  I did all the screening tests and everything had come back great.  I went in for an ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation and the doctors told me to come back in four weeks, because they couldn't see everything they wanted to see, but what they did see looked good.

When I went back in four weeks, the baby had turned and they had a clearer view.  They discovered that my son had a catastrophic brain malformation, holoprosencephaly.  Moreover it was the worst type, alobar.  My child would surely die.  When the doctor delivered the news, it did not register.  I did not get it until he told me "many would terminate the pregnancy for this."  Worse, my pregnancy dated 23 weeks and six days.  In terms of practitioners in Illinois, I had essentially no time to make up my mind.  Yet, I had to be sure.  I needed to know, irrational as it sounds, that the ultrasound machine was not broken.

I had an amniocentesis on the spot, went to see an MD who is a genetic counselor, and was able to get in for a prenatal MRI on my baby's brain at Evanston Hospital.  My genetic counselor was at Lutheran General, and I live in Kane County, so I was all over the place.  The MRI confirmed the diagnosis.  The genetics counselor confirmed the prognosis.  If the baby was carried to term, he would essentially be a vegetable.  He would never sit, eat, or recognize his parents.  He would have seizures, not be able to regulate his temperature or blood sugar, and likely be in great, great pain.  And I thought, no way.  Not my child.  I would not let him suffer and die because I couldn't muster the courage to do what I had to do for him to pass away in a more humane way.

What I had to do shocked and astounded me. Read more