Michigan Senator Gary Peters opened up publicly about his family’s “gut-wrenching” personal experience with abortion in an interview published on Monday.
The Democratic lawmaker revealed to Elle Magazine that in the 1980s, his then-wife Heidi had an abortion at four months because her pregnancy wasn’t viable and her life was at risk.
“My story is one that’s tragically shared by so many Americans,” Peters said in a statement. “It’s a story of gut-wrenching and complicated decisions — but it’s important for folks to understand families face these situations every day.”
At the time, Peters and his wife were expecting their second child, a baby the couple wanted.
But when Heidi was four months along, her water broke, leaving the fetus without the amniotic fluid it needed to survive.
Doctors told the couple to go home and wait for a miscarriage to happen naturally — but it didn’t.
“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense, trying to have a miscarriage for a child that was wanted,” Peters told the magazine.
As they waited, Heidi’s health deteriorated and doctors said that, without an abortion, she would lose her uterus and would be at risk of dying from sepsis.
However, the Detroit hospital had an anti-abortion policy and wouldn’t make an exception, Peters said.
“I still vividly remember [the doctor] left a message on the answering machine saying, ‘They refused to give me permission, not based on good medical practice, simply based on politics,’” he recalled.
Ultimately, Heidi was able to get the potentially life-saving procedure at another hospital. She called the entire experience “painful and traumatic.”
“If it weren’t for urgent and critical medical care, I could have lost my life,” she said in a statement to Elle.
Peters is the first sitting senator to share an experience with abortion.
The lawmaker decided to tell his story now because “the right to make such decisions as a family, free of politics, has never been more at stake.”
He cited President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as posing a threat to women’s reproductive rights, saying that hers could be the vote to potentially overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting the right to an abortion.
“The new Supreme Court nominee could make a decision that will have major ramifications for reproductive health for women for decades to come,” Peters said. “This is a pivotal moment for reproductive freedom.”
Peters, a first-term incumbent, is currently facing a competitive race for re-election in November. His Republican rival, John James, is a vocal opponent of abortion.
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