Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich) has spoken candidly about his family’s personal experience with abortion, a first for a sitting senator.
In an interview with Elle magazine, Peters, who is currently running for reelection, shared the “gut-wrenching” story of his experience with his first wife, Heidi, in the 1980s.
At the time, Heidi was four months pregnant with the couple’s second child when her water broke. The fetus was left without amniotic fluid and had no chance of survival, and a doctor for the couple — who worked at a hospital with an anti-abortion policy — told the Peterses to wait for a natural miscarriage.
“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense, trying to have a miscarriage for a child that was wanted,” Peters told Elle.
Three days passed, with Heidi’s health deteriorating each day and no natural miscarriage occurring. Eventually, the doctor told her that she was in danger of losing her uterus and could potentially die from sepsis. He applied to the hospital’s board for an exception to its anti-abortion policy but was denied.
“I still vividly remember he left a message on the answering machine saying, ‘They refused to give me permission, not based on good medical practice, simply based on politics. I recommend you immediately find another physician who can do this procedure quickly,’” Peters said.
Luckily, Heidi was able to receive an emergency abortion at another hospital, but only because the couple knew its head administrator. In a statement shared with Elle, Heidi described the ordeal as “painful and traumatic.”
Peters said he decided to come forward with his story due to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett’s record has indicated that she opposes a woman’s right to an abortion, and she previously signed a 2006 newspaper ad that called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which established that abortion access was a constitutional right.
John James, a Republican businessman and Peters’ Senate opponent, has also reiterated multiple times that he opposes abortion, and has compared the process to “genocide.”
“It’s important for folks who are willing to tell these stories to tell them, especially now,” Peters said. “The new Supreme Court nominee could make a decision that will have major ramifications for reproductive health for women for decades to come.”