I can’t have another baby. My husband and I have decided that if I got pregnant, we “wouldn’t keep it,” a tidy euphemism for two people terminating a pregnancy they may have wanted if the dice had rolled differently.
My pregnancies started horribly and became worse. By baby #3, my doctor briefly hospitalized me for hyperemesis gravidarum — I was throwing up too much to sustain a pregnancy. I needed hours-long iron infusions to combat anemia, and gestational diabetes had me jabbing insulin into my thigh three times daily. My family lived on credit cards, but my husband could care for our other sons, then ages one and three. I slept for sixteen hours a day and spent most of the other eight bedridden with nausea and exhaustion.
Years later, I have a second, fourth, and sixth grader to homeschool. My husband teaches at a local high school. If I got pregnant, my kids would have to enter an unknown school system — and a COVID school system at that — while I try to get through the days.
But theoretically, terminating a pregnancy may no longer be an option. It would ruin my kids’ lives — but I wouldn’t have a choice.
I live in one of those Bible Belt states with the motto “Thank God for Mississippi.” We passed a so-called “heartbeat law” in February. Much like Texas’ law, it requires doctors to perform demeaning vaginal ultrasounds checking for fetal cardiac activity before abortion. Fetal heartbeats can often be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy — or two weeks after conception, usually the day a woman’s period is due. A detectable heartbeat makes abortion illegal, except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to her life.
If our conservative court overturns Roe v. Wade based on the case they’re hearing now, Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Cooperative, they destroy a woman’s right to an abortion up to fetal viability (usually 22-24 weeks). While our heartbeat law is currently under federal injunction, that injunction only holds up because of Roe. Without it, the injunction fails, and I could no longer obtain an abortion in my state. I’d have to go elsewhere for abortion care.
I would love another baby. But for my sons’ sake, that isn’t possible. Their lives would be upended; their activities, outings, and fun would all become secondary to my health. All three have severe ADHD, which is the reason we homeschool. While it’s treatable with medication, my 10-year-old would have trouble sitting still for fifty minutes, and still throws non-neurotypical-appropriate tantrums when confronted with challenges. Moreover, all three children are also highly gifted. They’re what’s called 2E — twice exceptional — and 2E kids notoriously have trouble in school.
My 8-year-old stutters. He’s so sweet that when he was told about the concept of bullying — not that it happened to a particular person, just that it existed on this planet — he cried. Yet my state would have me toss him unprepared into a second-grade classroom in all the glory of our subpar school system.
My 11-year-old would get thrown, unprepared, into middle school. He’s never had to remember homework or do all the basic work of school that every child learns from kindergarten up. Suddenly, as a kid with ADHD, my pregnancy would force him to learn — immediately — how to record homework, to remember due dates, to deal with a locker, and more.
You’re probably laughing: your kids go to school every day. But mine have never been, and their disabilities would make school very, very tough. If I faced an unplanned pregnancy, they’d be thrown into it with no time to transition or prepare. I would hardly have enough energy to drag myself to IEP meetings, or the daily chat with a principal my 8-year-old would necessitate.
My kids have a right to keep the life they have. If our court overturns Roe, that right would change when I crossed state lines. Eliminating Roe would shift the landscape of abortion rights in our country. We’d return to auntie networks, to back-alley deaths, to self-inflicted injury.
You often hear the media talking about how overturning Roe will significantly alter the lives of women, men, whole families. But you probably think less about the children of moms who will suffer because the option of terminating a pregnancy has been stripped from their mother.
For women like me in conservative states: if our birth control fails, we will have to travel for medical care. And if we can’t travel, we will carry an unwanted pregnancy.
We will run out of choices.