When Legislators Play Doctor, Women Pay the Price: Sheva’s Story
By Becca Kendis
On December 13, Governor John Kasich signed the 20-week abortion ban into law. SB127 is Ohio’s most recent attempt to close all clinics and make abortion care completely inaccessible for women who need it. This ban will impact women such as Sheva Guy, who, after receiving heartbreaking news about her pregnancy, was forced to travel 300 miles for the medical care she required.
When Sheva was 22 weeks pregnant, her husband accompanied her to the doctor for a routine, second-trimester ultrasound, The happy couple was thrilled to learn they were having a girl. Their excitement turned to anxiety, though, when the technician struggled to get organ measurements. Unable to give the couple any answers, the doctor sent Sheva to a high-risk pregnancy specialist at a different hospital.
Any ban making women’s access to reproductive healthcare more difficult is unconstitutional and will harm women and families.
After hours of waiting and two more ultrasounds, Sheva and her husband received the terrible news.
“[The high-risk doctor] diagnosed our baby girl with a severe and fatal spinal abnormality. I had little to no amniotic fluid left, and the baby’s organs were barely visible. Her growth was severely stunted and it was possible she didn’t even have kidneys. She would not live much longer. I burst into tears and began to sob uncontrollably. I could not stop myself; the tears just kept coming. My husband was being so strong for me, but I could tell he was devastated.
We asked if there was anything they could do or if there was any chance our baby would get better. The doctor said no… We made the decision [to terminate the pregnancy] quickly because I didn’t want my baby to suffer, and I didn’t want to put myself in harm’s way.”
With no time to think and her emotions overloaded, Sheva was forced by Ohio law to act quickly to schedule an abortion. At 22 weeks and 3 days pregnant, however, she was already too far along to get the procedure at her local Planned Parenthood. She was referred to an abortion provider near Dayton, but the clinic could not schedule an appointment in time.
“I was terrified beyond belief. I couldn’t let my baby die inside me and force myself to go through induced labor. I couldn’t continue this pregnancy. Dayton referred me to Chicago, the closest place I could go to terminate my pregnancy this late, and I made an appointment for two days later. So, my husband, his parents, and I had to drop everything and schedule a trip to Chicago. We didn’t have time to mourn. The law wouldn’t let us have any time. We had to pick up and go.
We arrived in Chicago at around 2pm on Thursday. My appointment was at 4:30. I had to have another ultrasound and was forced to see my baby girl one last time. Even though I was at 22 weeks, my baby was only measuring at 18 weeks and I had even less amniotic fluid than before. Almost none. My insurance would still not cover the procedure. I was dilated the next day, a Friday, and had the procedure on Saturday. And then I was done. We drove home on Sunday and I began to weep as we left the city. I was forced to go all the way to Chicago to have a medical procedure that I should have been able to have in my hometown.”
SB 127 Will Harm Ohio Women
Existing Ohio law made it impossible for Sheva to receive abortion care in Ohio. Because most fetal anomalies cannot be diagnosed before 20 weeks, SB 127 will prevent more Ohio women like Sheva, who are facing the difficult decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy, from receiving the care they need in our state. Going forward, the 20-week abortion ban will effectively eliminate all options for women without the financial resources to travel for abortion care.
Every pregnancy is different.
We cannot presume to know all the circumstances surrounding a woman’s personal and private medical decision to have an abortion.
“We made the decision [to terminate the pregnancy] quickly because I didn’t want my baby to suffer, and I didn’t want to put myself in harm’s way.”
No matter why a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy, she deserves access to compassionate care in her community. Every woman should be able to make this incredibly personal decision in consultation with those she trusts most—and without interference from legislators with no medical expertise.
This post is brought to you in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.