Posted on December 21, 2016
I’m a liberal tree-hugger, as my mother-in-law calls me, and I’ve always been pro-choice, but donating to Planned Parenthood, signing petitions, and writing angry Facebook rants was the extent of my involvement.
Then in February 2016 I chose to have an abortion at 22 weeks. A dilation & evacuation, to be precise: the safest second trimester abortion procedure, a procedure that anti-choice conservatives in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives tried to outlaw just six weeks after my own.
After that, my activism took on a whole new urgency.
I heard news of HB1948 via text from a friend. It was a Saturday, and I was at my biggest work event of the year. My reaction was visceral–nausea, sweaty palms, racing heart–and hard to hide at an upbeat gala of 450 revelers.
Somehow, I got through that night on autopilot. The next day, I was having 1,000 thoughts and ideas at once when I remembered that I had started writing my story, the story of what had unfolded for me and my family just six weeks earlier, in the notepad on my phone. I had written it down one day because it kept repeating in my head:
“It felt like any other cold, February morning. We bundled up and took our 3 year old to day care early so we could make it to our 20 week anatomy ultrasound on time. We expected to find out the gender, get our cute photos of fingers and toes, and head back into our work days.
Man, were we wrong.
Instead at our ultrasound, we were dealt devastating news, news that changed our lives forever…”
So I went back to those words, kept writing and editing. And those words–the ones that were so true it hurt–became the basis for my emails to legislators, reaching out to Planned Parenthood to ask how I could help defeat the bill, and ultimately the speech I had the honor of giving at a press conference about HB1948 flanked by Cecile Richards and Governor Wolf.
The words flowed out of me because they couldn’t be kept inside. They were the truth, which needed to be shouted on repeat in the nauseating chatter of anti-choice rhetoric. I’m grateful to Planned Parenthood for providing me with the support, confidence and platform necessary to have others hear my truth, too.
Because patient stories–your stories–matter. They are the truth, and what make up the highs and lows of our lives. Legislators make countless decisions and cast hundreds of votes each year that affect each and every one of our lives in sometimes (unfortunately) the most intimate of ways. And no matter if legislators are thinking in our best interest or of their own, they need to be educated and hear the truth of how their decisions affect the lives of their constituents.
Ultimately, HB1948 did make progress through the General Assembly, but it never received final vote in the Senate because of public outcry each time they tried to sneak it along. I’d like to think that my story, along with the stories of the other kick-ass women who stepped forward, helped to remind Pennsylvanians of what is at stake with an anti-choice bill, and why the outcome of HB1948 should matter to them, too.
So think of your stories. What changed your life, for better or worse? Whether it was health insurance, affordable birth control, sex education, abortion access–speak up. Get involved. Your legislators are making decisions that affect these critical aspects of your life–the least you can do is tell them the truth.