PHOENIX, AZ – A letter from Danielle Deaver, the Nebraska woman who was blocked from accessing health care she needed when Nebraska's 20-week abortion ban became law, was hand delivered to Governor Janice Brewer's office today. The problems Nebraska's law caused for her, the pain her family endured are unimaginable, and detailed in Ms. Deaver's letter below.
"This is not about politics, it's about leaving the practice of medicine up to doctors and most importantly, it's about trusting women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families," Deaver writes. "Please right the wrong that Nebraska did to me and stop House Bill 2036. I want my daughter's life – and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death – to stand for something."
While Arizona's proposed 20-week ban has been compared to the Nebraska law, passed in 2010, the Arizona bill would be the most extreme abortion ban currently in force anywhere in the United States if enacted.
Nebraska Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, told the Des Moines Register that the Nebraska law worked as it was intended in Ms. Deaver's case. "Even in these situations where the baby has a terminal condition or there's not much chance of surviving outside of the womb, my point has been and remains that is still a life," Flood said in an interview with the Iowa newspaper.
"Arizona House Bill 2036 passed the Senate March 27, with amendments insufficient to protect women's health and to prevent tragic circumstances like Ms. Deaver's were made. House Bill 2036 now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Brewer. "
House Bill 2036 now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Brewer. Read Danielle Deaver's letter, below, to understand why this is of grave concern to Arizona women's health.
For more information on Danielle Deaver, including a video of her telling her story, please see this March 14, 2010 ABC News story.
Monday, April 2, 2012
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Governor Brewer,
My state was the first of a handful of states to enact a so-called "20 week abortion ban." I am from Grand Island, Nebraska, where I live with my husband Robb and our beautiful son.
Because lawmakers in my home state of Nebraska passed this sweeping abortion ban similar to legislation poised to pass the Arizona state Legislature, my family's personal loss a year and a half ago became a nightmare. You cannot imagine what we went through.
I implore you to read my story.
In August 2010, I was overjoyed to become pregnant. My husband and I still wanted nothing more than to give my son a brother or sister. For weeks, my pregnancy was proceeding normally. But then 22 weeks into my pregnancy, it went terribly wrong.
On Saturday, November 27, my water broke and there was not enough amniotic fluid for my daughter to survive. This was heartbreaking. If there was anything we could have done to save her, we would have.
What happened next should have remained a very private decision between me and my family and my doctors. As the result of a law similar to a bill considered by this state's Legislature, a decision that should have remained mine and my husband's at a very difficult time was decided for us – and it was decided by politicians we'd never met.
My husband and I agonized over the decision about what was best for our family. After much careful thought, prayer, research and medical advice, my husband and I made the difficult decision that we wanted to induce labor and deliver my daughter as soon as possible.
We wanted to honor our daughter. We wanted to hold her and say goodbye. We wanted to preserve my health.
We should have been able to handle this with dignity with our doctor. The very best medical care should have been available to me. But as I said, Nebraska law interfered.
Even though I wasn't looking for an abortion, my doctor and his legal counsel felt their hands were tied. "If I could help you, I would," he said, looking me in my tear filled eyes. "But I would go to jail."
The law, as you know, is black and white. Unfortunately, life just isn't. Though an infection was growing inside me, under the law I wasn't sick enough to warrant the induction my husband and I wanted.
Some have suggested my husband and I should have traveled to another state, but we didn't want to leave my doctor's care. And we didn't want to drive home with my daughter in a box.
So we waited. For days.
While we waited, we tried to pray, but we didn't know what to pray for. So we spent our days and nights telling our daughter how much we loved her, how sorry we were, and how we wished we could do something different.
Then on Wednesday, December 8, my daughter was born. My husband and I held Elizabeth as she gasped for air, and mere minutes later she was gone.
There are no words for how awful the 10 days were from the moment my water broke to the day my daughter died. There are no words for the heart break that cut deeper every time she moved inside of me for those 10 days.
There are no words for anger I felt when I learned after Elizabeth was born that my infection could have been analyzed, had my doctor been able to get to it sooner. With more information about what caused the problem, we might be able to have a subsequent healthy pregnancy and birth. But ten days later, the infection was just too severe.
Women and doctors are faced with difficult and complicated pregnancies every day. But the political groups and politicians behind House Bill 2036 paint with a broad brush. Even when they concede to health exceptions in the law, women facing a range of pregnancy complications are prevented from necessary medical care. It happened to me. When asked about my circumstances, the author of Nebraska's law said it worked as intended.
This is not about politics, it's about leaving the practice of medicine up to doctors and most importantly, it's about trusting women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. It's what Arizona women deserve.
That my pregnancy ended, that choice was made by God. How to handle the end of my pregnancy, that should have been private.
Please right the wrong that Nebraska did to me and stop House Bill 2036. I want my daughter's life – and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death – to stand for something.
In the community for 76 years, Planned Parenthood Arizona is the leading sexual health organization in Arizona. The organization provides health care, education and outreach services to more than 90,000 men, women, teens and parents annually. Planned Parenthood Arizona operates health center locations statewide in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Yuma. For more information, please visit www.ppaz.org.