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Guest Column
I had an abortion because of a ‘missed miscarriage’ | Column
If abortion laws change, will I — and others — have the same medical options and care going forward?
A woman has an ultrasound to verify her pregnancy inside the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La., on April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A woman has an ultrasound to verify her pregnancy inside the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La., on April 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) [ GERALD HERBERT | AP ]
Published May 12

This year I went through a medically induced abortion. And yes, before you ask, my husband and I desperately wanted our baby.

In November, we found out I was pregnant. We had planned for this and had only been trying for a month. We were over the moon with happiness. We shared our news over Christmas with our families. We celebrated and dreamed of the life we would create with our child. I was sick nearly every day, but I knew it would be worth the struggle for our future family.

Dakotah Shelton
Dakotah Shelton [ Provided ]

At the end of January, at 11 weeks, I went into my first ultrasound. My midwife looked for our baby for several minutes, without saying much. She found the sac, but was having trouble finding the baby or its heartbeat. I had been researching each step of our pregnancy, so I knew that developmentally it shouldn’t be hard to find the baby by this point. When she finally found it, it was about 5 weeks behind in growth.

Our midwife stepped out, brought a doctor in to check. He confirmed all our fears. There was no heartbeat.

We experienced what is known as a missed miscarriage. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage and my hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) counts were still incredibly high. The baby had stopped developing at six weeks, but it stayed in my body as if I were pregnant with a healthy baby.

Our doctor warned us that if I wanted to pass the fetal tissue naturally there was increased risk of infection, especially since I already had gone weeks without any bleeding. He gave us the choice of medicine or a D and C. We chose the medicine since we would be traveling for my grandmother’s funeral. I was prescribed Misoprostol and sent on my way. I was told to check in two days after taking it.

My abortion was painful and traumatizing. I passed the baby the night of my grandmother’s funeral. There was so much blood that I was terrified something was wrong. We checked into the hospital where I met a nurse who told me of her miscarriage stories, how she had been in my exact place seven times. She held my hand as I cried, as she gave me painkillers, and as I began to heal.

I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone, but one thing has been clear through all of this. Women need access to medical abortions without fear of repercussions. They need to be able to heal without fear of the government taking away their rights to health care. When I was in the hospital, I could barely think, let alone worry about my own health. The idea that my miscarriage could be investigated, that it could be met with unwanted scrutiny, all while going through the mourning process is horrifying.

I remember right after having this happen, I sat my husband down and told him how thankful I was for the medical team that helped me, how supported I felt. How they made me feel safer when I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

My heart hurts today for all the people who are scared now for their choices to be taken away, for their decisions to be made for them. I’m scared as my husband and I continue to try for a child, wondering if this next pregnancy will end the same way, but without the aid of medical assistance this time.

I don’t share this lightly, as I know many people who I love have dramatically opposing views, but this is incredibly important to me.

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I wanted my child more than anything. I love children, adore children, and want what is best for them, but overturning Roe v. Wade is not the right way to protect them, nor is it the right way to help future mothers. People will suffer. Individuals who are unable to carry their children will suffer. Children will suffer. My story is just one of many that need to be heard.

Dakotah Shelton is an elementary school teacher with a master’s degree in education from Kansas State University. This summer she will begin working on her second master’s degree, in library science, from Florida State University.

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