Reproductive Rights, Affordable Care, Public Schools, Equal Rights, and to Show My Kids What it Means to be an American

I marched:

For the right to take charge of my fertility.

In early 2004, I was pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned, but welcome, although with an approaching overseas move, the timing was terrible. However, my husband and I were still thrilled. About two weeks later, I started to bleed so I visited my doctor.

An ultrasound proved that my uterus was empty, but I was still pregnant. My doctor took a wait and see approach and two days later I went back for another ultrasound and blood test. Still, my uterus was empty and my doctor determined I needed a D&C. It was scheduled for two days later.

While on the way home from the doctor, in a snowstorm that was shutting down Omaha, I got a phone call. She wanted me to turn around that instant and come back to her office because she feared an ectopic pregnancy. My HCG levels were high enough for an 8 week pregnancy and I was in danger of a burst fallopian tube if something weren’t done that day. By the time my husband and I got back to her office, most of the staff had left because of the storm, however my doctor and her nurse stayed for me. I was given a shot of methotrexate, which was a chemotherapy drug, to end the pregnancy. I cried as the drug entered my hip, not because it hurt (it did), but because it was the end of a very loved pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies do not result in a live birth. If left untreated, they continue to grow inside the fallopian tube, until the tube finally ruptures, causing internal bleeding. This is dangerous for the woman and can lead to death if undetected. The burst fallopian tube will never work again, leading to a loss of fertility even if the woman’s life is saved.

A few weeks later, my husband and I boarded a plane to the UK. While trying to receive care at the military hospital a few days after I arrived, the first thing the doctor said to me was, “Why didn’t you want to be pregnant anymore?  How come you had an abortion?”  I was horrified that someone would think I wanted this. This was to save my life, if there had been a way to save the pregnancy, I would have done it. To ensure my health, I had to receive a pregnancy blood test every week.  Every week, the lab techs excitedly chattered about how they hoped my test was positive, while I burst into tears in their chair and told them my baby was dead.

It took me years to call this what the military doctor called it – an abortion. I ended a non-viable pregnancy to save my life and my fertility. I’m thankful every day that my Omaha doctor had the wisdom and the knowledge to take care of me. Without her care, my two children wouldn’t be born and my husband would have been a 25 year old widower. For this reason, I strongly believe in the choice and I will always be pro-choice. That is one reason I marched.

To save the ACA and continue the pre-existing condition protection.

The Affordable Care Act is a lifesaver for Americans with chronic conditions. My 8 year old has ADHD. At 8, she is now saddled with a “pre-existing condition” and without the ACA protections, she could be turned down for health insurance for the rest of her life.  Again, she is 8. ADHD is not a life-threatening condition, but after 6 years of comments from teachers about her inability to focus and learn, we put her on medication to help her focus. It was an agonizing decision as parents, but we determined we needed to try something to help our little girl. She was falling further and further behind in school and was struggling with math and reading.

She started Adderall XR on Halloween. We didn’t say anything to her teacher and waited to see if she noticed anything.  After a week, we spoke on the phone with the teacher and her first question was “what is different?” Claire was able to complete a math assessment without help and was finishing all her work during the day. We no longer spend 90 minutes at home working on assignments that she didn’t finish in class. We just received her 2nd quarter report card and she is now at grade level on all subjects and received positive marks in Staying on Task and Completes Work on Time – something that has never happened before.

Although she may find better ways to cope with her ADHD as she gets older, she will always carry this diagnosis. She deserves access to healthcare and this is why I marched.

To save the ACA and save the lifetime cap protection.

I have a friend with a chronic condition. It’s expensive and she needs quarterly prescription injections, blood work and X-rays and daily medications. Her medications cost $3000 a month and she will be on them for the rest of her life. Her medical care costs nearly $50,000 a year, barring any health changes. At this rate, she will quickly reach the old $2M threshold, leaving her ineligible for insurance as she nears the end of her life. I marched for her because her health prohibited her from marching herself.

Because Black Lives Matter

Because our kids deserve a Secretary of Education who cares about public schools

Because we’re better than a ban on Muslims

Because I want to show my kids what it means to be an American