COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – So much attention in Ohio and across the nation is focused on a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled out of state to get a legal abortion.
One young Ohio mother said she has been trying to get the attention of Ohio leaders for more than a year to share her abortion story because she believes it could change some minds, and maybe some votes.
“We were thrilled finally when we learned we were pregnant again,” the woman said. NBC4 is not identifying the woman because she is a lifelong Catholic with children in local Catholic schools, and the church teaches that abortion is a sin.
“Most of these pregnancies miscarry on their own,” she said.
The woman was an OB-GYN nurse, pregnant with her third child when her doctor called to tell her that genetic testing revealed a severe chromosome abnormality known as Turner syndrome.
“And then we met with a genetic counselor and had some very difficult conversations,” the woman said, adding she was told there was less than a one percent chance of having a live birth with the child.
And then it got even worse.
“Moving forward, I had a couple other ultrasounds where the baby had what’s called hydrox, which is where fluid surrounds the baby’s organs, which is totally incompatible with life,” the woman said.
She knew she would not have a live birth, but the pregnancy could still progress to the ninth month. If it went too far, in the latter stages of pregnancy, her life could be at risk. The doctor recommended a medically necessary abortion that she said then went before a Riverside Methodist Hospital Ethics Committee.
“In our case, they actually came back within just a few hours approving of hospital termination, but then you have to run it through insurance and my insurance company said no,” the woman said.
The reason? Insurance would not pay because her life was not in immediate danger and there was no way to know if she would have future bodily harm. Ohio’s current Heartbeat Law says the same thing.
She traveled to a clinic in Cleveland where she knew a doctor who would give her a medical abortion and put her under anesthesia. Because of COVID-19, her husband could not go with her. She walked alone through a gauntlet of protesters.
“And then, on top of it all, you have people screaming at you while you are walking into a clinic when they don’t know what’s going on,” the woman said. “You know, not everybody who has an abortion wants to have an abortion”
She knows the abortion she had last year is now illegal.
“Forcing someone to have to have a stillbirth is cruel,” she said. “It’s torture. How can you make these laws when you have, probably, never even been in the room with somebody who has delivered a dead child, or a child that’s going to die? How can you dictate the decisions that families make, that educated families make with the support of their doctors who have medical training?”
The woman wrote carefully worded letters to every lawmaker on the state’s health committees, her own senator, and to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
“And I received no response from any of them,” she said. The lack of response, she added, made her angry – angry enough to go public with her story.
“Nobody should even know that this needs to take place,” she said. “Why are we trying to dictate people’s lives, especially in a country like this that prides itself in freedom? And the people who stand on a religious pedestal — why are we pushing our morals and religious beliefs on other people? It baffles me.”
For more than a week, NBC4 has been trying to talk to elected leaders who support and enforce the abortion restrictions in Ohio. State Rep. Jean Schmidt, who is proposing a near-total ban on abortion and called pregnancy through rape an “opportunity,” did not respond to repeated emails and phone messages.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost’s office declined repeated requests for interviews. Ohio State Sen. Matt Huffman’s office promised a callback, but NBC4 did not receive it.
DeWine did not comment, but his spokesperson sent the following statement:
“Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill was drafted with language to protect the lives of pregnant women. Generally, if in the opinion of a medical doctor, a woman’s pregnancy will endanger her life or permanently harm her health, there is an exception for that in the Ohio law.”Dan Tierney, spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine
Doctors said the woman’s life was not at immediate risk and there was no evidence of permanent bodily harm. The only certainty was her baby could not survive.