‘After which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned’: House member who had two miscarriages blasts GOP on abortion ban

‘It is hard to describe the agony of a miscarriage’

House member who had miscarriages blasts GOP on abortion ban

Congresswoman Lucy McBath shared her struggles with miscarriages on Wednesday to advocate for women's reproductive rights in the United States in the wake of a leaked draft opinion from the conservative-majority Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v Wade decision.

Speaking at a US House judiciary committee hearing on the "ongoing crisis in abortion care access", the Georgia Democrat argued that the legislation introduced in right-wing states could impact the treatment of women who had undergone miscarriages and stillbirths.

"One day I woke up covered in blood. It is hard to describe the agony of a miscarriage. It is heartbreak, it's helplessness, it is pain, it is profound sadness.

Millions of women suffer from them," she said, describing her first miscarriage.

She added that during her second pregnancy she suffered another miscarriage at four months. "I learned I had suffered a fetal demise or a stillbirth. For two weeks, I carried my dead fetus and waited for me to go into labour...for two weeks, I carried a lost pregnancy and the torment that comes with it," she said.

"I never went into labour on my own. When my doctor finally induced me, I faced the pain of labour without hope for a living child," Ms McBath added.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a miscarriage is defined as pregnancy loss before the 20th week and stillbirth is the loss of the foetus at or after 20 weeks.

"This is my story. It's uniquely mine — yet it is not unique," she said, pointing out that millions of women in America have suffered from a miscarriage.

It is estimated that as many as 26 per cent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and up to 10 per cent of clinically recognised pregnancies, as per a report by the National Library of Medicine.

"So I ask, on behalf of these women: After which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned," the congresswoman asked.

"Would it have been after the first miscarriage, after doctors used what would be an illegal drug to abort the lost fetus?" she questioned. "Would you have put me in jail after the second miscarriage?"

"I ask because the same medicines used to treat my failed pregnancies are the same medicines states like Texas would make illegal," she said.

In Texas, a law passed in 2021 lists medications as abortion-inducing drugs and restricts their usage for abortion after the seventh week of pregnancy, The New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

"I ask if Alabama makes abortion [an act of] murder, does it make miscarriage, manslaughter? I ask if a woman has a miscarriage at three months, would she be asked to carry her dead fetus to term," Ms McBath continued.

In 2019, Republicans passed a law called the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which bans nearly all abortions in the state and makes it a Class A felony for a doctor to perform them. However, the law was blocked by a federal judge and deemed unconstitutional.

“Women’s rights are human rights, reproductive health care is health care, and medical decisions should be made by women and those they trust, not politicians and officials,” the congresswoman added.

Eventually, when the congresswoman did have a child, her son Jordan Davis, was shot and killed at the age of 17 in 2012 after a loud music complaint.

Last week, congresswoman Marie Newman came forward to share that she underwent an abortion, because women are “still shamed, wherever you go, even in this day and age”.

"When I was 19 years old, I was halfway through college. I found out, I was pregnant. I was working two jobs - scrubbing tables and floors to get through college. Did not have the wherewithal, but more importantly, I did not have the emotional ability to be supporting a child...It was a good decision but still a difficult decision," she said.

"So when Republican senators tell us that we shouldn't have agency over our bodies, it just reaffirms this taboo and the shame and I've had enough. All done. I will not allow people to shame me or anyone else that has had a standard medical procedure called abortion,” she added.

A formal decision in Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization, at the centre of the Supreme Court’s abortion ban debate, is expected in the coming weeks. Nearly 25 states in the US are expected to immediately outlaw abortion, including 13 states with so-called “trigger” bans in place designed to take effect without overarching federal protections for abortion access.

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