Katie Darling, a 36-year-old U.S. House candidate from Louisiana, was seven months pregnant when Roe was overturned. The first thing she did was turn to her husband and say, “We have to move. I don’t feel safe.”
It was Darling’s second pregnancy, and she was high risk after complications she had in her first birth. Darling was worried about Louisiana doctors not being able to provide proper care, should a complication arise in this pregnancy. While her first instinct was to flee, she decided instead to fight. “I calmed down. I called the Democratic party. And I got into the race as a pro-choice candidate in [Louisiana’s] first congressional district,” Darling told Jezebel. The canddiate is up against Republican Congressman and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who has been in the position since 2008.
Because reproductive choice was such a foundation of Darling’s campaign, she decided to launch her congressional run by filming her birth for her first political ad–a historic first for a politician. In the video, viewers can see Darling arriving at a hospital with her husband. Soon, she’s grimacing in labor, gripping onto the side of her hospital bed. At the end of the 1:15-minute ad, she nurses her newborn son, moments after he’s born.
When I asked Darling in a phone interview about her decision to bring a videographer into the hospital room during labor, she said she wanted to connect people to the reality of pregnancy and labor and how intimate and private it should be.
“I’m the one in the hospital bed,” she said. “I’m the one that should make the decisions for my life. When you see a person lying in their hospital bed with doctors, I think it’s disarming and it communicates that this is just a medical issue that needs to be handled in a hospital between a patient and a doctor. It’s not a decision that should be made by the folks in Baton Rouge on my behalf, particularly by a majority of men making those decisions for me.”
Darling said she feels like people have gotten very casual and theoretical when talking about legislation, while pregnancy is a life-or-death matter. Her opponent, Scalise, is staunchly against abortion and is even one of the Republicans who erroneously claim that some babies are “killed” after being “born alive.” Darling said Scalise is “very disconnected to the issue,” and she wanted to give people in her district the chance to vote for someone that would represent them.
The congressional candidate said she was prepared for “just about anything to happen” with her birth—“I was prepared to go into the hospital and not make it out,” she said—but it ended up being a smooth labor. And having a videographer in the room didn’t very much impact her experience.
“The videographer was very sensitive to the moment,” said Darling, who gave birth on September 14. “It was a really beautiful partnership between my husband, myself and the videographer. They were very respectful of the life event.”
Many people might cringe at the idea of having their labor and birth broadcast to the world. But Darling said the abortion bans around the country are so serious and so severe that her concerns about being vulnerable and putting her birth scene on the internet have melted away.
“What’s at stake right now is just so much bigger than that,” said Darling. “I’m not worried about what people think of me. I’m more committed to making sure people are aware of what we need and standing up for our rights. I want to see us codify Roe v. Wade and regain our reproductive rights, and most importantly for folks who are involved in these abortions bans to reconsider how dangerous this legislation is. Reproductive rights are human rights.”