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After Which Failed Pregnancy Should I Have Been Imprisoned? Rep. Lucy McBath on Reproductive Rights

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During a recent meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Congressmember Lucy McBath of Georgia shared her personal story about accessing reproductive care after experiencing a stillbirth. In doing so, she pointed out how anti-abortion politicians and legislators fail to see the medical necessity of abortion in instances such as hers. “We can be the nation that rolls back the clock, that rolls back the rights of women, and that strips them of their very liberty, or we can be the nation of choice, the nation where every woman can make her own choice,” says McBath.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Democratic Congressmember Lucy McBath of Georgia. During a recent meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, she shared her personal story about accessing reproductive care.

REP. LUCY McBATH: Like so many women in America, for years, I struggled to get pregnant. My husband and I, we tried everything that we could do to start a family of our own. And finally, we were successful. I had never been so happy. And I prayed for this moment for so many years. I wanted to tell everyone. I just wanted to shout it from all of the mountaintops. For weeks I began to dream about our life and our future together. And then, one day, I woke up covered in blood.

And it’s hard to describe the agony of a miscarriage. It’s heartbreak, it’s helplessness, it’s pain, and it’s profound sadness. Millions of women suffer from them. And I’ve heard from many who felt guilty like I did, who felt as though that we weren’t worthy of having a child. Those are the same feelings that crept through my mind. And every time I’ve had these difficult discussions with other women, I remind them that they are strong and that they are powerful beyond measure, and that their worth is far more than their ability to procreate. However, it seems those in support of this ruling disagree.

After my second miscarriage, I wondered, in my grief again, if God had decided I was never meant to be a mother. So, when I finally got pregnant again, I was overjoyed. It was as if I believed that God was giving me and my husband — finally, he had a plan for us to be parents. But after four months, while feeling terror and trauma in my heart, I was rushed to the emergency room. There, with my doctor and my husband, I learned that I had suffered a fetal demise, or a stillbirth. There again, I was filled with anguish and sorrow and guilt. And I tried so hard, and still I felt like I failed trying to be a mother.

My doctor thought it would be better to — and safer to end the pregnancy naturally, without the medicines so commonly used. So, for two weeks, I carried my dead fetus and waited for me to go into labor. For two weeks, people passed me on the street, telling me how beautiful I looked, asking how far along I was, and saying that they were so excited for me and my future with my child. For two weeks, I carried a lost pregnancy and the torment that comes with it. I never went into labor on my own. When my doctor finally induced me, I faced the pain of labor without hope for a living child.

This is my story. It’s uniquely my story — and yet it’s not so unique. Millions of women in America — women in this room, women at your homes, and women you love and cherish — have suffered a miscarriage. And so I ask, on behalf of these women: After which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned? Would it have been after the first miscarriage, after doctors used what would be an illegal drug to abort the lost fetus? Would you have put me in jail after the second miscarriage? Perhaps that would have been the time, forced to reflect in confinement at the guilt I felt, the guilt that so many women feel after losing their pregnancies. Or would you have put me behind bars after my stillbirth, after I was forced to carry a dead fetus for weeks, after asking God if I was ever going to be able to raise a child?

And I ask because the same medicine used to treat my failed pregnancies is the same medicine states like Texas would make illegal. I ask because if Alabama makes abortion murder, does it make miscarriage manslaughter? I ask because I want to know if the next woman who has a miscarriage at three months, if she will be forced to carry her dead fetus to term.

So, for the women in your life whose stories you do not know, for the women across the country whose lives you may not understand, and for the women in America who have gone through things you simply cannot comprehend, I say to you this: Women’s rights are human rights, reproductive healthcare is healthcare, and medical decisions should be made by women and those that they trust, not politicians and officials.

We have a choice: We can be the nation that rolls back the clock, that rolls back the rights of women and that strips them of their very liberty, or we can be the nation of choice, the nation where every woman can make her own choice. Freedom is our right to choose.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Georgia Congressmember Lucy McBath. A year after her stillbirth, she gave birth to her son Jordan Davis. In 2012, Jordan was shot dead by a white man over a dispute about loud music in a gas station on a Thanksgiving weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. Jordan was just 17 years old. Before joining Congress, Lucy McBath became a leading advocate for gun control.

When we come back, we’ll talk to Chase Strangio about inclusive language around pregnancy. He is the ACLU’s deputy director for trans justice. And we’ll look at the escalating attacks on the LGBTQ community. Stay with us.

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