On the House floor on Wednesday night—after House Republicans passed not one but two anti-abortion measures in their first few days in the majority—Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) shared her own horrific pre-Roe story of having to carry a decaying fetus for nearly two months after it died in utero when she was seven months pregnant.
Wilson said she had wanted “plenty of children that I could love and cuddle and raise to greatness”—but her first pregnancy in the late 1960s would not be the start of a growing family. “At seven months, the baby stopped moving. He was soon pronounced dead, right inside of my womb, and the doctor was prohibited by law from inducing labor,” she told her colleagues.
“I had to learn how, first of all, to handle the immense grief that comes with losing a child and the fact that the corpse of that child was still within me. I cried every night and all day. My little body was wretched with pain, weakness, and frailty. I lost 50 pounds,” Wilson continued. “I would crawl into a fetal position in my mother’s lap most of the day, and in my husband’s most of the night.”
Wilson said the experience almost killed her. “As the days became weeks and the weeks became months, the baby began to disintegrate and the flesh from the corpse began to fill into my bloodstream,” she described. “I was at risk for toxic shock. Poison was flowing through my grief-stricken little body. At eight-and-a-half months, I went into labor. Hard, painful labor. And what was left of the baby Wilson boy was born.”
As if losing her first pregnancy wasn’t enough, Wilson recovered in the maternity ward. “After three days, I left the maternity ward in a wheelchair, empty-handed, no baby, no nothing,” she said. “I watched other mothers and families celebrate their newborns while I grieved and cried.”
Wilson and her family had a “small” burial for their son, Baby Boy Wilson. “Doctors were so afraid that I would also have had to have a graveside burial,” she said.
The Southern Florida congresswoman then explained how her horrific pre-Roe experience is still applicable today. “Everyone who needs reproductive healthcare is different. Abortion does not only apply to women who have decided for themselves they’re not ready to have a child,” Wilson said. “Abortion affects women who are at risk of facing medical emergencies, life-altering emergencies and death.”
Wilson really brought it all home at the end of her speech, shaming the group of mostly Republican men who are insistent on demonizing abortion and abortion providers. It’s best read in full:
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, let the women march on and on till victory is won. You cannot put young childbearing women at risk because of a group of ludicrous hateful majority male congressmen who have no idea what it feels to even bear the pain of childbirth or even have the courage to carry a child for nine months, who take pride in monitoring women’s vaginas. How dare you, how dare you, how dare you. May God help you find it in your heart to hear my story and never wish that kind of pain and grief that I experienced on another living soul. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I yield back.”
Thank you to Rep. Wilson for sharing this.