Tuesday, June 25, 2024

After being denied health care, women detail ’emotional and psychological toll’ of abortion bans • Michigan Advance

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Two women from southern states talked to the Advance on Tuesday about the trauma of being denied medical care as they were losing their pregnancies following the fall of Roe v. Wade.

Amanda Zurawski of Texas and Kaitlyn Joshua of Louisiana said they both wanted to get pregnant. 

Zurawski went through what she described as a grueling year of fertility treatments which ended tragically when the pregnancy she fought so hard for had catastrophic complications at just 18 weeks.

But Texas has a near total abortion ban. Zurawski said she was told by her doctor that her life had to be in danger before they could deliver her daughter before the point of viability, effectively an abortion. She endured two bouts of sepsis before she could get an abortion. The damage from the experience has left her likely unable to carry a future pregnancy.

“I have been put in this position because of what happened to me as a result of the ban that is in place in Texas,” Zurawski told the Advance. “… The emotional and the psychological toll that takes, I can’t speak to that enough. It’s just been, I’m doing much better now, but for a while it was crippling.”

Zurwaski’s story about nearly dying after her 2022 miscarriage is now the subject of a new TV ad from President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

Amanda Zurawski speaks at a discussion with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in Lansing about threats to reproductive health care on May 7, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

“Because [former President] Donald Trump killed Roe v. Wade, Amanda was denied standard medical care to prevent infection, an abortion,” the ad says. “… She almost died twice. The infection caused so much damage Amanda may never get pregnant again.”

She also has sued the state of Texas.

Zurawski and Joshua traveled to Lansing, Detroit and Grand Rapids on Tuesday on behalf of the Biden campaign. They stopped in Lansing to speak with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, about their concerns for abortion in Michigan should former President Donald Trump get reelected this fall. 

Joshua told Nessel about finding out she was pregnant weeks after Louisiana enacted its near total abortion ban. She and her husband were thrilled at the idea of having a second child to join their 4-year-old daughter. But from the start, she was denied reproductive health care, having been told she’d have to wait a month before getting a prenatal appointment at more than two months pregnant.

“I asked on the phone, ‘Is this because of what I think?’ and they said ‘yes.’ Because of the abortion ban, prenatal appointments were being scheduled later, when miscarriages are less common, so as to avoid potential legal liability for medical providers,” Joshua told Nessel. “At around 11 weeks, just one week before that first prenatal appointment, I started experiencing major blood loss and pain worse than childbirth.”

She was having a miscarriage. But instead of being allowed to technically have an abortion in order to safely pass her pregnancy, Joshua said she was sent home.

In a Louisiana Illuminator column published last month, Joshua recalls the staff “told me they were praying for me. I’m a Christian woman who goes to church every Sunday. I needed answers and access to care, not their prayers.”

But Joshua said she didn’t get the care she needed and instead had to suffer alone.

“It took me weeks to pass my pregnancy at home by myself and I was absolutely terrified. This experience has made me see firsthand how Black women are dying at alarming rates in this country,” Joshua said on Tuesday.

Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“When you look at the access to OBGYNs, when you look at the access to just basic prenatal care, as it stands before Roe v. Wade and after, it is definitely in stark contrast [in terms of] a correlation of the abortion ban playing a role in the rates being worse than they were before,” Joshua told the Advance. “As a woman that presents as Black and most importantly, as someone who has experienced adversity as a result of the abortion ban, I kind of get the opportunity to bring that conversation to the table.”

Nessel talked about having to get an abortion two decades ago when she was pregnant with triplets in order to save the lives of her other two babies, which she did.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (left) speaks with Kaitlyn Joshua (middle) and Amanda Zurawski (right) during a discussion in Lansing about threats to reproductive health care on May 7, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

“I can’t imagine, I literally can’t imagine being in the situation that you guys have been in, in the states that you’re from, now post-Roe,” Nessel said. “To have politicians telling me what I could or couldn’t do with my body and telling me either that I would have to risk my life just because I happen to be a woman who wanted to reproduce and have children, or potentially telling me that I couldn’t have children at all, which doesn’t seem very pro life to me in any way, shape or form.”

Nessel said that she’s terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. She argued that any cryptic claims that he’s not interested in implementing a federal abortion ban go against what voters know: Trump takes gleeful responsibility for the fall of Roe.

And with states attacking in vitro fertilization (IVF) and questions being raised surrounding surrogacy, the path to parenthood for many people isn’t clear under Republican leadership, Zurawski told the Advance.

Earlier this year, she and her husband, Josh, said they were planning to move her frozen embryos out of Texas out of fear that the state could ban IVF.

“It’s just really opened my eyes that these laws and the way that they’re written really have no limits. And we know that MAGA Republicans will take them as far as possible to control women up and down the United States,” Zurawski told the Advance. “To anyone living in any state where they think they’re safe, they think they’re protected. If Donald Trump is reelected, no one is safe.”

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