My Baby Would Have Died Under the Stupak Amendment

I always considered myself pro-choice, but was never involved in the movement until South Dakota’s State Legislature passed an abortion ban and Governor Mike Rounds signed it into law.

Pro-Choice Activists joined forces and The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families was formed.  According to the SDCHF website in less than 10 weeks, the organization successfully collected more than twice the number of petition signatures required to refer that abortion ban to a vote of the people using an all-volunteer force. With the help of our volunteers and supporters throughout the state, the abortion ban was defeated by a wide margin -- 11 points!

As a resident of South Dakota I followed news reports on the ban and the grassroots efforts to defeat the ban. I was hoping the ban would be defeated, but hadn’t given it much thought because as a married mother of two beautiful children, I knew we would welcome a third child and would never need an abortion, so the law wouldn’t affect me.

In 2006 I became pregnant and was thrilled.  After landing in the hospital with a severe kidney infection at 19-weeks gestation, I received my first ultrasound, leaving us shocked and thrilled to see we were expecting identical twin boys.

The joy didn’t last when our babies were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. explains that Twin-twin transfusion syndrome as “the most serious complication of identical twins. It starts in the womb when one twin gets too much blood and the other not enough. The outcome for both twins is grim.”

Severe TTTS has a 60-100 percent fetal or neonatal mortality rate.  We were sent to one of the premier fetal care centers in the country and told our only hope for saving this pregnancy was to have a selective termination on the one of the babies, and hope the other twin would survive.

At my next doctor appointment when I asked my perinatalogist if the termination we had would be allowed under the abortion ban.  He said no. 

I was outraged and felt violated, how a group of individuals dare think they can make life-altering medical decisions for me.  If I hadn’t had the termination, I would have buried two babies instead of only one.  I contacted the SDCHF and the next day I was giving my first interview with Newsweek. 

In 2008 the same anti-choicers were back attempting to ban abortion.  They gained enough signatures to put Initiated Measure 11 on the ballot.   I once again shared my story with the world in the hopes that South Dakota voters would vote against Initiated Measure 11 and keep a women’s right to choose in place. For the second time in two consecutive elections, voters rejected an attempt to ban abortion in South Dakota.

I never thought I would have to once again open deep wounds and share my deeply personal story, but then the Stupak-Pitts Amendment was added to the House version of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  The selective termination that saved my baby’s life would not be covered under the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. 

The total bill from the fetal care center was just over $220,000.  Add the care for the entire pregnancy and the cost was well over $500,000.  We were fortunate that our insurance covered 80% of the costs.  Had they not, I’m not sure what we would have done.  Why should I have to choose between having a life-saving procedure that will most likely put us into bankruptcy while at the same time forcing me to choose between the best interests of our much wanted unborn child versus the best interests of our other two children?  After three years we have finally paid off our share of bills from that pregnancy. 

TTTS doesn’t pick wealthy families to affect. I was fortunate to have a husband with a good job and insurance.  Many women are not as fortunate and it is because of these women I am once again fighting against anti-choice attempts to limit a women's right to reproductive health care.

My fellow activist friends and I decided to use Facebook to get the word out about the devastating effects of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.  We started a Facebook group, Stupak Amendment REVOLT.  After only two weeks we have 3,052 members.  We have a website where you can donate to help get as many activists to Washington D.C. for the December 2nd rally-lobby day.  We also have an online petition you can sign and members of Stupak Amendment REVOLT will be delivering them Dec. 2nd.  In only two days we have collected 635 signed petitions!  I hope you will join us for the rally/lobby day, but if you can’t please consider making a donation to our cause and signing our online petition. 

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