In Kari Lake’s Arizona, my high risk pregnancy would be illegal
Kari Lake listens to a question at an Aug. 3, 2022, press conference at her campaign headquarters in Phoenix. Lake declared victory in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
A judge has allowed a Civil War-era abortion law to take effect in Arizona, which dates back to 1864 and bans nearly all abortions in the state. One of the most extreme bans in the country, it threatens doctors with a two-to-five year prison sentence.
I know first-hand how cruel and horrifying this law is for Arizona families after I had to travel hundreds of miles out-of-state for the abortion I needed. We deserve leaders who want to solve problems for Arizona families, not create them.
Arizona’s next governor will likely inherit the public health crisis created by this law. That is terrifying, given the chance that it could be Kari Lake. She has proudly branded herself as the anti-choice candidate, embracing extreme positions on abortion.
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If Lake becomes governor, she will not only uphold the Civil War-era ban, she will see that it is enforced. This will endanger the lives of Arizonans who need care and threaten doctors with jail time.
Arizona clinicians will not be able to offer abortion care without risking their own safety. Many people who need abortions will not be able to get them, leading to state-mandated pregnancy and childbirth. Others will travel out-of-state for their care, if they can afford to.
I know how difficult this can be.
Two years ago, my husband and I were surprised and delighted to learn we were expecting twins. Our joy turned to fear when we learned that our son had a critical heart defect that caused blood to pump into his lungs.
My doctor was clear: It was unlikely he would make it to term, and there were high risks for his healthy twin sister and for me. Our doctor explained that a “selective reduction” — an abortion — was the safest course of action.
I wasn’t able to get this care in Arizona. Anti-abortion legislators have created a hostile environment in the state. Our doctor began calling physicians she knew all over the country to find someone who could help us. She said to have my bags packed and be prepared to leave town on a moment’s notice.
Days later, in an operating room 385 miles from home, we were saying goodbye to our son. This was the safest choice we could be making for our family. Still, it was the most difficult, traumatic, and emotionally painful decision of my life. It was made harder by being so far away from home, from the people who love and support us.
We returned home after the procedure. I continued to carry our healthy daughter and our dead son for the remaining four months of my pregnancy. I went into labor and gave birth to our healthy baby girl, “Twin A” as she was labeled. I also delivered “Twin B,” or our “demise.” It was a long, exhausting day, both physically and emotionally. We were so in love with our daughter, but were also grieving the loss of our son.
The circumstances of my pregnancy were exceptional, but I made the decision to have an abortion. Others make decisions about their pregnancies, and have their reasons. Each of us is making our own calculations. We’re weighing the information we have, the lives we’re living, the families we already have or want.
I would never second guess someone else’s decisions. No matter what decision they make, they shouldn’t have to travel far from home for essential health care. And they shouldn’t be worried about a law from 1864 sending them to jail, nor should the doctors, nurses, or people that help them.
According to Lake, the decision we made two years ago to keep our family healthy and safe is a sin. She thinks this Civil War-era law banning abortion is a “great law.” She routinely says awful, hurtful things about people who get abortions. The Lake campaign has even attacked her opponent, Katie Hobbs, for sharing her own experience with miscarriage.
Hobbs couldn’t be more different. She has been and always will be a staunch supporter of reproductive freedom. She has vowed to protect access to abortion and condemned this Civil War-era abortion ban. Hobbs understands that people managing a health crisis deserve dignity and respect, not slurs and threats.
Over and over again, Lake says she wants to punish people like me and the people that cared for me. I don’t want a governor that makes my hardest days even harder. I want to elect someone who trusts me, and who wants the best for my family and my community. I am traumatized by my loss–I still struggle with it every single day. And yet, I am thankful was able to get an abortion that I needed. It made the family I have today possible.
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