Some people do not believe that pregnancy and abortion laws are related. They have no idea what they’re talking about.
In June 2022, I discovered that I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled—and at 42 years old, we understood that I was embarking on a high-risk pregnancy.
I was also leading the Democratic committee focusing on America’s state legislatures, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. We were working to defend our Democratic majorities and doing everything we could to win back legislative majorities in states like Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania—understanding that the president’s party typically loses seats in a midterm year. I did not expect that my professional and personal worlds would collide during a historic year in politics.
The conservative U.S. Supreme Court reversed my pregnancy weeks after I discovered it. Roe v. Wade, giving Republican-held state legislatures the green light to enact extreme abortion restrictions—a policy priority they’d worked toward for decades. It backfired politically. Democrats held every single legislative majority—a first for a president’s party since at least 1934—and flipped four chambers from red to blue.
Pundits, Republican strategists and even some Democrats argued that abortion rights wouldn’t matter. They may have overlooked the fact that I experienced the same medical complications as so many Americans.
Republicans have not backed down in their attacks on reproductive freedom. The Republican Party’s anti-abortion crusade is not going to end anytime soon. From Wyoming being the first state in the nation to ban abortion pills to South Carolina legislators proposing a bill that could lead to the death penalty for those who get an abortion, it is clear they aren’t giving up their anti abortion crusade. Will pundits ever again overlook the importance of this issue? Will Democrats?
It would be a big mistake to—and here’s why.
Some people are of the opinion that abortion laws and pregnancies have nothing to do. Those people have no idea what they’re talking about—and they’ve probably never been pregnant.
Each pregnancy is unique. As any mommy blog will tell you, there is a community for pregnant women to find comfort through shared experiences. The moment you are pregnant, it is important to start thinking about your future. Dobbs broke—those blogs were lighting up. Women from across the country posted about how Republicans’ new laws might impact their pregnancies.
By day, I’d watch pundits discuss whether abortion rights would trump economic concerns. And in the evenings, I’d talk to other pregnant women as they worried about which laws might harm them or their child.
When you are pregnant, you constantly calculate the risks. You consider how much coffee you should consume each day and what foods are safe to eat or avoid while pregnant. You receive all kinds of contradictory advice—it’s exhausting and all-consuming.
The Republican Party has made it clear that they will not be abandoning their anti abortion crusade anytime soon. Will the pundits again miss this issue? Will Democrats?
In October I visited family in Missouri. This state had banned abortions months earlier, in June. In Missouri, a woman who was pregnant was told that she couldn’t terminate her pregnancy by her doctors because it wasn’t viable. Missouri’s laws sent her on a wild goose chase trying to obtain care—with medical professionals telling her they legally could not act until it was an emergency. For those who may be unaware, medical emergencies when you’re pregnant often end in maternal death.
While sitting in Missouri I wondered: What would happen if something were to happen to me. Where could I go to? Suddenly my risk calculations were political and geographic—a burden Republican lawmakers put on millions of other Americans.
There was still constant, breathless reporting that other concerns will ultimately prevail over the backlash against anti-abortion legislation at the polling booth. I knew in my bones that they were wrong because my two realities couldn’t be so out of sync. I’d do a press interview about the danger of a GOP abortion ban, then head into a doctor’s appointment where my ob-gyn would cover what exactly could happen to me at this stage of my pregnancy. On my drive home, I’d think about how much more dangerous my pregnancy would be if Virginia Republicans were successful in passing an abortion ban.
State legislator Democrats never forgot and underestimated how angry Americans were that Republican lawmakers tried to make health care decisions on their behalf. I imagine that’s because Democrats routinely have over double the number of women running and serving in state legislative office compared to Republicans. Some of us experienced pregnancy and its complications right along with the voters that we were trying persuade.
Republicans forced pregnant woman into a battle for their life, but they thought it would be of less importance than other current issues. Beltway types collectively underestimated the quiet fury among Americans who refused to accept a nation where the opinion expressed by their Republican statehouse was more important than their own. Never underestimate their political influence again.
The next step:
U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. If these crises are not addressed, they will only lead to greater gaps in representation and participation. It’s been 50 years! Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studio events and podcasts. We appreciate your loyalty and ferocity.
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