Democrat Gary Peters becomes first sitting senator to share his family's abortion experience
Senator Gary Peters has shared his family's experience of abortion amid what he believes is "a crucial moment for reproductive freedom" in the United States. (Getty Images)
Gary Peters, a Democratic Senator from Michigan, first shared his family's painful experience with abortion.
In an Elle interview published on Monday, Mr Peters stated that his first wife, Heidi, had an abortion in the late 1980s that saved her life. At the time, Heidi was four months pregnant with the couple's second child, a baby they both wanted. But during Heidi's second trimester, her water broke and the fetus remained without amniotic fluid.
The couple was supposed to wait at home for a miscarriage, but afterwards the doctor recommended an abortion because the fetus had no chance of survival. However, the Detroit hospital had a policy banning abortion so Mr Peters and Heidi were again told to wait for a miscarriage.
While they waited, Heidi's health deteriorated. When they returned to the hospital on the third day, the doctor said she could lose her uterus if she could not have an abortion and she could die if she became septic from the uterine infection. Even so, the hospital authority declined the doctor's appeal to an exception to the anti-abortion policy. The doctor advised the couple to quickly find another doctor to perform the procedure, and Heidi was placed in an emergency abortion that "saved her uterus and possibly her life," according to Elle.
In a statement to the magazine, Heidi said the experience was "painful and traumatic". She added, "Without urgent and critical medical care, I could have lost my life."
As he was telling his story, Mr. Peters was the first seated senator in US history to publicly share a personal experience of abortion. He told Elle that he decided to go public now because "it's important for people to understand that these things happen to people every day".
He continued, "I have always considered myself pro-choice and believe that women should be able to make these decisions for themselves, but when you live them in real life you realize the significant impact they have to have a family. "
The timing couldn't have been more appropriate. On Monday, hearings began to confirm President Donald Trump's Supreme Court candidate, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is against abortion. As a law professor, Ms. Barrett was among the hundreds who signed an anti-abortion letter calling for an end to "the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade," the 1973 decision that made abortion legal.
Mr Peters told Elle that he would not vote to approve Ms. Barrett. He said, "The new Supreme Court candidate could make a decision that will have a significant impact on women's reproductive health for decades to come. This is a crucial moment for reproductive freedom."
Mr Peters is waging a tight re-election campaign against John James, a Republican who openly speaks out against abortion and describes it as "genocide".
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