'Roe vs. Wade saved my life'

The Chronicle Express

I have written, re-written, and thought about posting this for months. Now that the Supreme Court went ahead and did the unthinkable, I have decided to share my own experience. I’m not looking for sympathy, and I suppose I’ll never change the minds of the True Believers, but for those of you who aren’t sure, or those of you who need a hug, or those of you who are simply in shock and looking for ammunition – here’s my story.

The Duprey family

Roe v. Wade saved my life.

In 1989, after careful consideration, my husband and I decided we wanted children. I went off the pill and several months later, I was thrilled to announce to the world that I was pregnant. We started outfitting a nursery, started reading parenting books, and started getting our minds around the fact that, in less than a year, we’d have another person in our lives.

And then, on July 9, in my twelfth week, I began to bleed.

I called the doctor, I consulted with my baby books, I talked to both my mother and mother-in-law. The consensus among them all was that, if I went to bed and put my feet up, it was possible for the bleeding to stop.

It didn’t.

By 3 o'clock in the morning of July 10, I was bleeding through several layers of a folded bath towel in about three minutes flat. Steven took me to the hospital emergency room and nearly fainted when the nurse put my feet in the stirrups and lifted my nightgown away from my legs. He’d never in his life seen so much blood. Instead of fainting, though, he came over and held my hand. Tightly, so I would know he was there. I hung on, needing to know I wasn’t alone.

The on-call doctor performed an emergency D&C (Dilation and Cutterage). He took out the tiny fetus, in its tiny amniotic sac, and stopped the flow of blood.

Why? Because I was bleeding to death.

The doctor’s manner was blunt, to put it kindly. He wasn’t nice about the event. He has long since passed away and I’m still working on forgiving him for his abruptness. But the reality was: he saved my life.

Roe v. Wade saved my life.

Without that ruling, and in certain states where abortion OF ANY SORT is outlawed, he would not have been allowed to remove that tiny fetus from my bleeding body. He would’ve been forced to inaction, standing by while my body attempted to expel the non-viable fetus on its own. I would’ve died in that ER.

And women will die again.

The protection that law gave was broader than the simple “abortion as birth control” that so many opponents want the public to believe. Pregnancies terminate on their own for thousands of reasons. In fact, the term “miscarriage” isn’t a medical term. The medical term for what I went through is called a “spontaneous abortion.” All that means is that, for an unknown reason, the fetus wasn’t viable. I could not carry the baby to term.

And let’s be clear: if that doctor had not performed the D&C and I had died? I wouldn’t have gone on to have two more successful pregnancies. I wouldn’t have the two wonderful children I have today. The world would be poorer because they wouldn’t be in it because I would’ve died without the doctor’s actions.

So yeah, while I could never make the decision to purposefully terminate a pregnancy, nor could I ever counsel someone to do the same who came to me for advice, it is important that every woman who finds herself with child gets to make her own decisions regarding that pregnancy. This is not a black-and-white issue. There are so many factors that come into play that a single law – or the revocation of that law – cannot account for each and every one of them.

I’m alive because of Roe v. Wade. And those who voted to end it have no idea what they’ve done – or how many future children they have killed.

Cythia Duprey is a writer and retired English teacher. She and her husband Steve Duprey have a summer home near Prattsburgh. Over the years, Steve has been involved in Yates County church youth camps and directed a number of musicals for Penn Yan Academy and PYTCo.