Think of Embree When You Vote

8 mins read

This is Haylie Grammer’s story. She has given us her blessing to share it. Please share and remember Haylie and her baby when you vote.

I recently saw an article about Senator Gary Peters and his experience with abortion. It reminded me that people need to hear my story too…

Four and a half years ago, I gave birth to my daughter, Embree Eleanor. She was born via c-section and weighed 4 lbs. 4oz. Embree lived 25 minutes. 

Embree was born with a tumor the size of a volleyball. It was sucking her blood, pushing her organs, deforming her body, and overworking her heart. We found out about the tumor five weeks before her birth. In those weeks, the tumor grew from the size of a walnut to a volleyball. 

Those five weeks were the hardest of my life. I had sonograms twice a week, traveled across the state to visit specialists, and we were told that our sweet baby would probably not make it. We had a choice to make. 

The state of Texas allows for abortions after 20 weeks if the pregnancy is life-threatening to the mother or the fetus has “abnormalities.” We qualified for this. But though I have always been pro-choice, I never thought I’d have an abortion myself. I also had hope. 

I had hope that Embree would be healed, hope that the tumor would stop growing. So we chose to continue the pregnancy. I hoped that if I could carry her just a few more weeks, maybe, just maybe, modern medicine and prayers could keep her alive.

The doctors closely monitored both Embree and me. But Embree was developing Hydrops, and I was at risk of developing mirror syndrome, which would be life-threatening to me if it fully developed. 

On April 22, my doctors told me it was time to make a decision. Not only was I starting to develop the symptoms of mirror syndrome, but we were two weeks away from 27 weeks. And at 27 weeks, I would no longer be able to deliver Embree via c-section in the state of Texas.

Why? Because according to Texas state law, by choosing to deliver Embree this early, I was having an abortion. And while at 24.5 weeks I was still in the grey area of Texas abortion law where I could deliver her, at 27 weeks, I would not be. Are you surprised this is considered an abortion? Stay with me.

The c-section was scheduled for that Monday when I would be at 25 weeks. But though we were past the age of viability, it had become clear that Embree wouldn’t make it. The NICU doctors decided that they would not be making any life-saving attempts on Embree after she was born. 

This meant that, officially, we were choosing to have an abortion. We were giving birth to our child early, knowing that she would not survive. This is what a “late-term abortion” looks like.

Did you catch the political buzz phrase there? 

It was the worst and longest weekend of our lives. We knew that in two days, we would be meeting our daughter and also letting her go. This is what a late-term abortion looks like.

Like most states with a large majority of people who claim to be “pro-life,” Texas has many restrictions to prevent abortions. But here’s the thing about abortion laws: they don’t differentiate between what we went through and what “pro-life” groups think they are stopping. 

So under Texas law, to give birth, we had to do the following: 1) We had to go to the hospital a day before delivering Embree to sign papers formally requesting an abortion. Think about that: In the records of the state of Texas, there will forever be a piece of paper saying that I aborted my precious Embree. 2) Our doctor was required to give me a pamphlet saying that if I had the abortion, I would suffer from depression and anxiety for the rest of my life, have an increased risk of breast cancer, and possibly become infertile. Think I’m kidding? Have a look at the pamphlet.

I know you may be thinking, “That’s different. That’s not what I’m fighting against. I don’t consider that abortion.” Great. YOU might not consider what we went through to be an abortion, but the law says it was. I had a late-term abortion.

Why am I telling you this? Because when people fight to end “abortion,” they are talking about this, too. When you hear about “late-term abortions,” THIS is what is usually happening. Late-term abortion is women and families devastated that they have to decide whether to let their baby suffer in the womb or end their suffering. “Pro-life” laws are designed to make this traumatic experience even more difficult. And it is horrible enough as it is.

When people talk about saving babies and being pro-life, I cringe. Not because I don’t want to save babies, but because I WANT to save babies. Save babies from the suffering they are made to endure because some man with no medical training decided he knows better than doctors. 

I cringe because I know these “pro-life” laws are used to trick women into voting against their own interests in the name of saving the unborn. I cringe when people call those who vote in favor of pro-choice laws “murderers” because they are saying I murdered my Embree.

I gave birth on April 25, 2016, via c-section. I had a late-term abortion. I did it because it was the only way I could hold Embree while she lived; the only way I could encounter her soul until we meet again in heaven. 

Haylie and Embree

This is why I am pro-choice. Remember Embree and me when you vote.

Edited by Maia Falconi-Sachs

Featured Photograph: Kayana Szymczak/The Guardian

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