Julie Bindeman, Susanna Roesel and Judy Goldberg aborted after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider a law in the southern state of Mississippi that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks, the three women share their stories.
The conservative-leaning court is due to hear oral arguments in the Mississippi case on Wednesday and has yet to rule on an even more restrictive law in Texas banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
Bindeman, a clinical psychologist who lives in Maryland, and her husband already had a young son when she became pregnant again in 2009.
During a routine ultrasound in the 20th week of her pregnancy, doctors discovered that the fetus, a boy, had a brain defect.
They told him that if he survived to term he would never be able to walk or speak, would be unable to feed himself, and in the “best case” would have the developmental quality of life of a two-month-old baby.
“We said we couldn’t do this,” Bindeman said. “We can’t do this to our son. We can’t do this to ourselves.
“Most importantly, we can’t do that to this little boy.”
Bindeman said she and her husband made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy and had an abortion.
She became pregnant again five months later and, in a statistical improbability, tests again revealed that the fetus had severe brain abnormalities.
Bindeman had another abortion at 18 weeks.
“These are decisions people have to make in the context of their family, potentially their religious advisor and certainly with their health care provider,” she said. “No one else needs to make the decision.”
Bindeman and her husband have since had two healthy children.
– ‘Adds to the trauma’ –
In 2008, Susanna Roesel was 30 years old and was eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child.
But at 18 weeks pregnant, a blood test and amniocentesis revealed serious “incompatible with life” abnormalities.
Roesel, who lives in Georgia, where abortion is illegal after 20 weeks, visited a clinic just three days before the deadline.
To reach the clinic, Roesel and her husband had to walk through a group of anti-abortion protesters.
“It was just awful,” she said. “It was terrible. It adds to the trauma, for sure.”
“They don’t understand anything about what we are doing,” she said. “They are out of place. They still call me a baby killer.”
After her abortion, Roesel found herself sitting next to a 13-year-old girl in the recovery room, and she indicated in a recent Facebook post that under Texas law “we would be criminals.”
Roesel, who now has children aged 12 and nine, believes access to safe abortion is a right for women.
“Personally, I don’t think women should have to justify why,” she said.
In 1985, Judy Goldberg was not ready to become a mother.
Goldberg was a 22-year-old college student with a boyfriend, a man who would later become the father of their children.
“We were both students and we weren’t married and no, I didn’t want to have kids,” Goldberg said.
“My periods weren’t regular and I was using birth control,” she said, so she didn’t realize she was pregnant for months.
“Back then, you know, they didn’t have home pregnancy tests or anything,” Goldberg said. “So you have to go to the doctor to have a blood test.
“So I went to my gynecologist and he said, ‘I’m not doing this abortion … you’re over 16 weeks pregnant.'”
“He was very critical of me,” Goldberg said. “This is how I felt.”
She ended up going to an abortion clinic.
Goldberg said laws in Mississippi and Texas “imposing all of these time limits” on abortion do not take into account “women’s unique experiences.”
The Supreme Court ruled in its landmark Roe v. Wade of 1973 that access to abortion is a constitutional right of women.
In a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually between 22 and 24 weeks.
In addition to restricting the length of time an abortion can be performed, neither Mississippi law nor Texas law makes exceptions for rape or incest.
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