“People have asked me if . . . I have reconsidered my stance on abortion. The answer is firmly no. In fact, I have never felt more strongly about it.”
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, ending a constitutional right to abortion in the United States, people have been publicly sharing stories of how their lives have been saved and shaped by a medical procedure that approximately one in four women will need during their reproductive years.
Adding their voices to the chorus are some of the many people who have needed a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure in order to treat a miscarriage. The procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the contents of the uterus. The steps are the same whether or not the pregnancy is viable. When someone miscarries but their body does not empty the uterus on its own, doctors may perform a D&C to prevent infection or other complications.
In a powerful essay for Vogue, Halsey wrote about their three miscarriages and needing this procedure to save their life.
“I miscarried three times before my 24th birthday,” they write. “One of my miscarriages required ‘aftercare,’ a gentle way of saying that I would need an abortion, because my body could not terminate the pregnancy completely on its own and I would risk going into sepsis without medical intervention.”
“I was afraid for myself and I was helpless,” says Halsey. “I was desperate to end the pregnancy that was threatening my life.”
While Halsey gave birth to their child, Ender, in July 2021, they explain that they were filled with fear awaiting the baby’s arrival. “I rewrote my will during the third trimester of my pregnancy. After my past experiences, I was prepared for the worst. I gave detailed instructions regarding the donation of my organs should I die or be declared brain-dead.”
They note the irony that while you need a deceased person’s permission to donate their organs, a fetal heartbeat could prevent doctors from performing an abortion to save the life of a pregnant person.
Their miscarriage experiences, Halsey says, have made them even more committed to abortion rights.
“My abortion saved my life and gave way for my son to have his. Every person deserves the right to choose when, if, and how they have this dangerous and life-altering experience. I will hold my son in one arm, and fight with all my might with the other.”
While no cases have yet been brought to light in the U.S., there is fear that laws like Texas’ “heartbeat bill” could prevent medical providers from treating an impending or in-progress miscarriage with a D&C if the fetus’ heart is still beating, thus jeopardizing the pregnant person’s life. Such a situation led to the 2012 death of Dr. Savita Halappanavar in Ireland. The 31-year-old dentist was 17 weeks pregnant when she died of infection while doctors waited for the fetal heartbeat to stop so that they could legally perform the procedure. Her story was one that galvanized activists and led to the historic legalization of abortion in Ireland in 2018.