US Senator Gary Peters did something no other seated senator has done before: learn about a personal experience with abortion. In an interview with Elle magazine published on Monday, Peters talks about how his first wife, Heidi, was initially denied an abortion in the late 1980s, even though her life was in danger.
Peters, a Michigan Democrat, said it was a story about “how nerve-wracking and complicated decisions can be related to reproductive health, a situation I went through with my first wife”.
Speaking to Laura Bassett for Elle, Peters said Heidi was four months pregnant with her second child when her water broke. The fetus remained without amniotic fluid and could not survive. His wife was told to wait for a natural miscarriage.
“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense,”
When that didn’t happen, Heidi’s doctor recommended an abortion, but hospital guidelines prohibited the procedure.
Her health worsened as she waited days for a miscarriage and the doctor feared she might face a life-threatening infection. He tried to contact the hospital, but the abortion was still refused – although Heidi could have lost her uterus or even died, Bassett reports.
“I still remember vividly [the doctor] left a message on the answering machine: “They refused to give me permission, not because of good medical practice, only because of politics. I recommend that you find another doctor right away who can do this procedure quickly, “said Peters.
The couple were friends with another doctor in another hospital, so Heidi could finally get a potentially life-saving abortion there.
In a statement to Elle, Heidi said the whole experience was “painful and traumatic”. “Without urgent and critical medical care, I could have lost my life,” she said.
Peters said he was going public with this very personal story because he knew that things like this happen to people every day. “I’ve always considered myself a pro-choice and believe that women should be able to make these decisions for themselves, but when you live them in real life, you realize the significant impact they have on a family can “, he said in an interview.
He is also concerned about President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmatory talks began Monday. Barrett hasDuring her tenure on the 7th Court of Appeals, she advocated restrictions on access to abortion on both occasions.
“The new Supreme Court candidate could make a decision that will have a significant impact on women’s reproductive health in the coming decades. This is a crucial moment for reproductive freedom,” said Peters.
Legal analysts expect a more conservative Supreme Court to allow states to legislate more broadlywhich could result in the procedure no longer being available in much of the country. The court might even decide to reconsider , the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Peters also tells his heartbreaking personal story at a crucial time for his campaign. Michigan is a swing state that voted for President Trump in 2016, and Peters is in a close race against Republican John James, who described himself as “100% #ProLife” and said he supported overthrowing Roe v . Calf.
In a Facebook ad, Peters claimed that his Republican challenger “opposes or even refuses to make an exception when a woman’s life is in danger” and “wants to make it a crime for rape and incest as well,” reported the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper said James did not answer questions during this year’s campaign about whether he would allow exceptions when the mother’s life was in danger.
CBS News has also approached Peters and James for comment and is awaiting a response.
–Kate Smith contributed to the coverage.