“If I had been forced to carry my pregnancy to term, my life would be very different right now.… I can’t imagine holding [my son] and watching him take his last breath, and knowing that that would be painful for him.”
Washington, DC — As the Senate readies to vote on H.R. 36 — a bill that would ban all abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization with extremely limited exceptions — Planned Parenthood released a video, “April’s Story: One Woman’s Experience of Having An Abortion at 21 Weeks.”
View the video here:https://youtu.be/30GY9H_M2e0
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Passing this law would put women in unimaginable situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so. While no woman should have to justify her personal medical decisions, the reality is that many women who have abortions later in pregnancy do so because of medical complications or other barriers resulting in delays to accessing an abortion.
“This bill is one more way out-of-touch politicians are trying to ban abortion completely and block women from accessing essential reproductive health care. We are seeing an unprecedented attack against women’s health in Congress right now, and it’s got to stop. This extreme political agenda is deeply unpopular — it’s harmful to women, and it’s not what the American people want Congress spending time on.”
Abortion later in pregnancy is very rare — nearly 99 percent of abortions in the U.S. occur before 21 weeks — and often happens under complex circumstances. Because these laws prevent doctors from giving their patients the best health care possible, leading medical organizations (like Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) condemn them —as do the American people: When Americans understand the real-world impact of this extreme ban, a solid 60 percent of voters oppose them, and a strong majority of voters — Republicans (62 percent), Democrats (78 percent), and Independents (71 percent) — say this is the wrong issue for Congress and their state legislators to be spending time on.
Six in 10 young Americans believe abortion should be available in all or most cases, and 68 percent believe it should be available in their own community.
The new video shares the story of a woman named April Salazar, who, while 18 weeks pregnant, found out with her husband that their baby had lethal skeletal dysplasia — meaning the baby would never be able to breathe on his own. If she carried the pregnancy to term and he was born alive, he would have died shortly after of suffocation. April hoped the news wasn’t true, so she requested more tests to confirm the diagnosis, which took two weeks. At 21 weeks, she had an abortion. April shares her story because she has found that it can change opinions. Several people she knows personally who previously had been anti-abortion told her that they would have done the same thing she did.
View the video here: https://youtu.be/30GY9H_M2e0
Today's vote comes toward the end of two months of unprecedented congressional attacks on women’s reproductive health — and is one of nearly 40 times this Congress has tried to restrict access to safe and legal abortion.
My husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and people still tell us that we act like newlyweds. And so for me, having a child with him just felt like it would be an extension of how we felt about each other.
I really thought that it would happen quickly and easily, but after a year and a half, it was clear that we were going to need help, and so I visited a fertility doctor. By the eighth try, I was really convinced that I was gonna get another negative on the pregnancy test, and I got a phone call from the nurse at the fertility clinic and she said, “I have some news for you.” And I expected that she was gonna say no again. And she said, “You’re pregnant.”
I found out at about 12 weeks that I was expecting a boy and that he had tested negative for the most common birth defects. We did the 18-week anatomy scan at a specialist’s office. The doctor told us that our baby had a skeletal dysplasia, which meant that his chest was very narrow and his rib cage was very narrow, and so narrow that his lungs wouldn’t be able to develop. And because his lungs wouldn’t be able to develop properly, he would never be able to breathe on his own.
If I carried the pregnancy to term without any medical intervention, he would suffocate probably within a few minutes. With the extreme medical intervention including a ventilator and a feeding tube he might live several days. We had the second anatomy scan two weeks later, when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and unfortunately they confirmed the diagnosis of lethal skeletal dysplasia. Even though I’ve identified as pro-choice from a very young age, I never thought that I would have an abortion. I had certain negative stereotypes around people who did and so I think it’s important for us to share our stories because we understand the nuances that go into that decision making. If I had been forced to carry my pregnancy to term, my life would be very different right now. I can’t imagine having given birth and watching my son suffer. I can’t imagine holding him and watching him take his last breath, and knowing that that would be painful for him.
I also can’t imagine a world without my daughter. She is absolutely beautiful and is sunshine and is probably the best thing that’s ever happened in my life after meeting my husband. I want my daughter to live in a world in which she can make her own reproductive choices. Whether that’s about access to birth control, morning-after pills, abortion or even just the ability to see a gynecologist on a regular basis and keep tabs on her own sexual health. Having charge of your own reproductive health means that you can control your destiny and that’s so important for me. I want her to grow up knowing that the sky is the limit.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
September 22, 2015