April in Glenwood: Now it’s personal
By society’s standards, I’ve never been much of a protester.
I like to think I’m more of a quiet activist — for women, children, animals, the arts and the environment. I avoid confrontation, and my debate skills are less-than-ideal. And while there have been many issues I’ve disagreed with in life, I’ve typically kept my disapproval to a hushed minimum.
Except that one time my senior year in high school.
My classmates and I walked out of school in protest of a young, first-year teacher we loved. We were sure he was being abruptly replaced in an unfair staffing move to bolster the school’s football program. That was back in 1990, in small town Indiana.
I think you had to be there to understand.
This weekend, I’m peacefully showing my support — protest has such a negative vibe to it lately — and it has nothing to do with football or teachers. Although I have my concerns about concussions and low teacher pay that could use some extremely loud voicing. Just imagine if teachers were paid like football players.
What a world we would live in.
Tomorrow I plan to join others in front of the Indiana Statehouse in voicing my disapproval of recent women’s rights legislation in that non-confrontational way called a rally. I’m hoping for a peaceful assembly of folks who believe Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s signing of House Bill 1337 is unconstitutional. In short, the bill “prohibits abortions if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking it solely because of: (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” I’m not sure “other disability” has been completely defined, but my first question is if such “other disability” could cause the death of the mother. Would it then be illegal to have an abortion if going through with a pregnancy could be fatal on both ends? What if the pregnancy were a result of a rape or incest? By this bill’s language, a mother wouldn’t have a choice.
I’m not OK with that.
This is what I’m really not OK with: The bill “provides that a miscarried or aborted fetus must be interred or cremated by a facility having possession of the remains. Requires a person or facility having possession of a miscarried or aborted fetus to ensure that the miscarried fetus or aborted fetus is preserved until final disposition occurs … Specifies that miscarried and aborted fetuses may be cremated by simultaneous cremation.”
This time, Hoosier lawmakers and Gov. Pence, it’s personal.
Not many people know I miscarried long before I was ever lucky enough to be blessed as a mother. It’s not an experience I’m public about, and I’m not exactly sure why. Many of my friends don’t even know about this sad time in my life. Have I been ashamed to talk about it, as if there were something wrong with me (which would be medically inaccurate)? Probably. Do I think that makes sense? Not at all. There’s a strange sense of shame and failure that comes with losing a baby.
I can’t explain why, but it was my reality.
The doctor’s prognosis that I would miscarry hit me hard, like a sucker punch in the face. I had always wanted to be a mom. I knew it would happen within weeks of the pregnancy confirmation, I just didn’t know when. The pregnancy was deemed not viable, mostly based on the low and non-progressing heart rate and hCg levels. I was told it would come naturally — a cruel waiting game. When the time came, I was in the comfort of my own home, and the experience was highly personal.
Completely opposite of what HB1337 proposes.
By the law’s strict perspective, there can be hours, days or a week’s difference between the definition of an embryo versus fetus. Requiring a mother to inter or cremate in a miscarriage or abortion situation can be even more traumatic. This bill completely infringes on rights of women and their bodies, and how they cope with the loss of a pregnancy, natural or otherwise.
I just don’t get it, lawmakers.
I’m more than lucky the doctor gave me promising news, that I would be able to carry a baby someday in the future. It took a great amount of mental healing for me to get there. I certainly cherish the life I’ve brought into this world, and I can’t imagine how I could live without him. I hope my experience can help other women who may go through a difficult time as a result of a pregnancy.
And I hope the law doesn’t bully them as they go through a highly personal experience of motherhood, planned or otherwise.
April E. Clark is fired up. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.