'Gut-Wrenching' Abortion Story Is a Senatorial First

Mich.'s Gary Peters recalls how the procedure may have saved the life of his first wife
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2020 7:44 AM CDT
A Sitting Senator Shares His Abortion Story
In this Sept. 6, 2020, file photo, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta File)

As the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearings continue—and liberals continue to fret over what her ascending to the court bench might mean for abortion rights—one Democratic senator is sharing his own personal tale on the topic. Per the Detroit Free Press, Michigan's Gary Peters sat down with Elle magazine to talk about what he calls "a story of gut-wrenching and complicated decisions." In the interview, which Elle says is a first from a sitting senator on the subject, the 61-year-old recalls how in the late '80s his then-wife Heidi was four months pregnant with their second child when her water broke, leaving the fetus with no amniotic fluid—an unsurvivable condition. The couple were told Heidi should wait for her body to naturally miscarry, but that didn't happen, and her own health worsened. Her doctor advised her to have an abortion, but their hospital banned abortions.

Her doctor was concerned she'd lose her uterus, and possibly her life from the ensuing infection. "They refused to give me permission, not based on good medical practice, simply based on politics," Peters recalls the doctor telling them, recommending they go elsewhere for an immediate procedure. They found another hospital that would do it, saving Heidi's uterus and maybe more. "If it weren't for urgent and critical medical care, I could have lost my life," she tells Elle in a statement, calling the experience "traumatic." "When you live it in real life, you realize the significant impact it can have on a family," Peters adds. Per the Washington Post, Congress members Jackie Speier and Pramila Jayapal have also talked about their own abortion experiences. ABC News notes the confirmation of Barrett, who's anti-abortion, to the Supreme Court would lead to a "solid conservative-leaning block for the court, which would likely impact abortion law in years to come." (More abortion stories.)

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