You can read parts 1 and 2 of our trip to Washington D.C. to advocate and attend Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearing here:
You might have noticed in my picture in my blog post from attending Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearing that I had several blue and green folders with me:
The folders were assembled in a bit of a rush, because I didn't have a lot of notice that I was going to get to attend the confirmation hearing. But they held information I was absolutely proud to carry and deliver, including:
- Jim's and my testimony. I have sent our testimony about how we learned about Grace's fetal anomaly, subsequently terminated the pregnancy, and how it was to undergo this in the state of Missouri in letter format a few times when there are bills being evaluated, and so on. Jim shared his testimony when he testified against HB 757, a 20 week abortion ban being proposed currently in Missouri. You can read the bill here. You may notice that the bill does not have exceptions for fetal anomalies. It is also scientifically inaccurate according to five doctors we've talked to so far, all whom independently said a fetus doesn't feel pain until 28 weeks, not 20 as the bill asserts. So HB 757 is a great example of a bill being both based on false and/or disregarded medical science (where the law is designed to allow politicians decide when a fetus feels pain over experienced medical professionals that specialize in this), and without fully considering everyone that might be impacted by it.
You can watch Jim's heartbreaking testimonial and the responses here (starts immediately):
- My Op Ed in the Washington Post. Senator Feinstein referenced my Op Ed in her opening remarks, so I felt it was important to include.
- Others' Stories. This was a big one. We are not the only people that have gone through this. In fact, on an infertility support group that I participate in, of the 130 members, at least 3 other women have had to terminate pregnancies for medical reasons due to fetal anomalies. Once I joined Ending A Wanted Pregnancy, an amazing support group for women that have faced similar circumstances and have had to, like us, choose the the "best" from unimaginable options, I found other women that had shared their stories too. I highly encourage you to read the stories that I brought with me to Washington D.C. here:
While each circumstance is different, the common threads of utter shock upon the news of a fetal anomaly, feeling 100% that termination of the pregnancy was the best option, government interference and astronomical expenses show up in nearly each story.
I gave the folders to Senators, legislative counsel representatives and other individuals where their understanding of the issue and its impact is very important; these are some of the people that need to know the realities of who these laws fully affect and in what way, so they can be enabled to support and/or make different policy decisions in the future. I know it won't change every mind, but I am very hopeful that raised awareness will help in even a small way. It's discouraging to think that a lawmaker would know of our circumstances and still choose to pass a bill that makes carrying out our decision, made out of parental love, even harder, but at least they will have been informed rather than just unaware.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to personally hand these packets to Senators and other individuals of great influence. Being invited to Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearing is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am still overwhelmed 2 weeks later. Being in the room while people like Sandy Philips told the story of her daughter losing her life to gun violence in the Aurora, CO theater shooting was one of the saddest privileges of my life. The impact was overwhelming, and I wasn't the only one moved to tears by her testimony.
Watching testimony like Sandy's as well as watching the Senators interact with each other and with the witnesses served as a great reminder that we're all human beings. We all have feelings and senses of humor and things that outrage us. Many of us are really putting ourselves out there hoping that in exchange for letting people evaluate and assess us based on what we're sharing (even Sandy was subject to some of that), that the payoff will be educating some people and bringing about some change.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story, and to the other women who have so bravely shared their stories. We are all possibly subjecting ourselves to having our accounts of their darkest days ripped apart by strangers, all for the chance to hopefully educate the public and our elected officials on the realities of later term abortions, and to hopefully help usher in some change. That's absolutely the hope of every single person that shares. That's how strongly we feel about it. I can assure you the attention we garner is more negative than positive, and some days it's hard to keep going. We share to hopefully help prevent other families from facing at least the legal and stigma-related pain in the experience.
Do you have a story about ending a wanted pregnancy? Please feel free to contact me. Every single story helps make a difference!