Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear an abortion case for the first time in years, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and it’s shaping up to be hugely consequential. Garret Epps has an overview of the case and what’s at stake. If the Texas law in question is upheld, 34 of the 40 clinics providing abortions in the state will likely close because they won’t be able to meet two new major regulations.
About a month ago, in the wave of email from readers responding to our callout for personal stories of confronting abortion, we heard from a woman living in Texas who was already struggling with abortion regulations in that state. She is also one of the few readers in this series willing to use her real name:
My name is Dr. Valerie Peterson. I live in Austin, Texas, and I’m a single mom of two kids. I had my first daughter when I was 17, and then my second child at 19. I worked full-time while attending school full time, all the way through earning a doctorate.
I had several gynecological complications after my second child and was told that I couldn’t get pregnant again. I was shocked when my doctor told me I was pregnant in July of 2015. Even though this was unexpected, it was a wanted pregnancy, and I started prenatal care.
Because of high blood pressure, I was considered a high-risk pregnancy and had to have ultrasound scans every two weeks. At my 12-week scan, I was told that there was a possible abnormality in my son’s brain, but more testing was needed. For the next several weeks, I went back and forth to my doctors for additional tests. At my 16-week appointment, the sonogram my son’s brain hadn’t developed into two halves, and there was also an open neural tube. My doctor confirmed the diagnosis: alobar holoprosencephaly, or HPE.
HPE is a condition that is 100 percent incompatible with life. I had two options.