Today in dystopian stories about pregnant people having to fight for their lives due to draconian abortion bans, NPR reports that a Texas woman had to bring her own foul discharge into the hospital to prove that an infection was killing her so that a panel of doctors would agree she was finally in enough danger to terminate her lethal pregnancy.
In May, Elizabeth Weller was 18 weeks along in a pregnancy she very much wanted when her water broke, weeks before the fetus would be viable outside the womb. She lacked enough amniotic fluid to carry the pregnancy and was told the fetus would likely die or have to fight for its life in agonizing ways, so she and her husband decided abortion was the safest and most humane option. However, the fetus still had a heartbeat. Though Weller was starting to experience increasingly severe symptoms of chorioamnionitis, which can lead to a fatal infection, the doctors at her Houston-area hospital decided she wasn’t in enough danger for them to risk violating Texas’ six-week abortion ban. So they told her to either wait at the hospital to get sick enough to warrant a “medical emergency,” per the exception in the Texas law, or go home and wait for her fetus to die inside her.
So she went home. From NPR:
To Elizabeth, it seemed obvious that things were deteriorating. She had cramps, and was passing clots of blood. Her discharge was yellow and smelled weird. But the hospital staff told her that those weren’t the right symptoms, yet, of a growing infection in her uterus.
They told her the signs of a more severe infection would include a fever of 100.4 degrees and chills. Her discharge had to be darker. And it had to smell foul, really bad. Enough to make her retch.
Eventually, Weller said her discharge did get so dark and so foul-smelling that it made her retch. So she brought a sample of it back to the hospital to prove the infection was killing her. “Because I didn’t want anybody to tell me they did not believe me,” she told NPR. “And if they didn’t believe me, I was going to show it to them and say, ‘Look! You open it. You smell it yourself. You’re not going to tell me that what I’m experiencing isn’t real, again.’”
At the very last minute, Weller was finally granted a life-saving abortion. But her case is not an anomaly, nor is it a situation in which a specific hospital erred too far on the side of caution and/or misinterpreted the law: The state of Texas has actually sued the Biden administration over the president’s guidance earlier this month telling doctors they must provide abortions in emergency medical situations. Supposedly “pro-life” Republican leaders in the state are being crystal clear about the fact that they would rather see pregnant people die than loosen their new abortion restrictions.
And as Weller’s story and others in the past few weeks have made clear, women will die from abortion bans. Pregnant people will suffer and scream and experience unimaginable anguish because of these laws, which were written by people who don’t give one single moral shit about “life.” Their plan was always to control and punish people for having sex, and this is what that looks like in the year 2022.