'They're not in my shoes': women reflect on abortion decisions

The US Supreme Court is to examine a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks /AFP/File

Julie Bindeman, Susanna Roesel and Judy Goldberg had abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

As the US Supreme Court prepares to examine a law in the southern state of Mississippi that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks, the three women are sharing their stories.

The conservative-leaning court is to hear oral arguments in the Mississippi case on Wednesday and has yet to rule on an even more restrictive law in Texas banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Bindeman, a clinical psychologist who lives in Maryland, and her husband already had a young son when she became pregnant again in 2009.

During a routine ultrasound in the 20th week of her pregnancy, doctors discovered that the fetus, a boy, had a brain abnormality.

They told her if he survived to term, he would never be able to walk or talk, would be unable to feed himself and in the "best case scenario" would have the developmental quality of life of a two-month old.

"We said we can't do that," Bindeman said. "We can't do that to our son. We can't do that to ourselves.

"But most importantly, we can't do that to this little boy."

Bindeman said she and her husband made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy, and she had an abortion.

She became pregnant again five months later and, in a statistical improbability, tests again revealed that the fetus had serious brain abnormalities.

Bindeman had another abortion at 18 weeks.

"These are decisions that people need to make in the context of their family, potentially their faith advisor and certainly with their health care provider," she said. "No one else needs to make the decision."

Bindeman and her husband have since had two healthy children.

- 'Adds to the trauma' -

In 2008, Susanna Roesel was 30 years old and eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child.

But at 18 weeks of pregnancy, a blood test and amniocentesis revealed severe abnormalities "incompatible with life."

Roesel, who lives in Georgia, where abortion is illegal after 20 weeks, went to a clinic just three days before the cutoff date.

To reach the clinic, Roesel and her husband had to pass through a group of anti-abortion protesters.

"It was just awful," she said. "It was terrible. It adds to the trauma, for sure."

"They don't understand anything about what we're doing," she said. "They're not in my shoes. They're still calling me a baby killer."

After her abortion, Roesel found herself sitting next to a 13-year-old girl in the recovery room, and she reflected in a recent Facebook post that under the Texas law "we'd be criminals."

Roesel, who now has children aged 12 and nine, believes access to safe abortion is a woman's right.

"I personally don't feel like women should have to justify why," she said.

- 'Judgmental'-

In 1985, Judy Goldberg was not ready to become a mother.

Goldberg was a 22-year-old student with a boyfriend, a man who would later become the father of their children.

"We were both students and we weren't married and no, I didn't want to have a child," Goldberg said.

"My period wasn't regular, and I was using birth control," she said, so she did not realize she was pregnant for months.

"At the time, you know, they didn't have home pregnancy tests or anything," Goldberg said. "So you have to go to the doctor to get a blood test.

"So I went to my gynecologist, and he was like, 'I'm not doing this abortion... you're more than 16 weeks pregnant.'"

"He was very judgmental of me," Goldberg said. "That's how I felt."

She ended up going to an abortion clinic.

Goldberg said the Mississippi and Texas laws "putting all of these time limits" on abortion do not take into account "women's unique experiences."

The Supreme Court ruled in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that access to abortion is a woman's constitutional right.

In a 1992 ruling in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 22 to 24 weeks.

In addition to restricting the time period during which an abortion can be performed, neither the Mississippi nor the Texas law makes exceptions for rape or incest.

Comments / 34


lol love that paragraph "they are not in my shoes".lolwell you know what, you're not in the babies shoes about to be killed are you!

Citizen Jane

What a tragedy that a child must die so that you can live as you choose. That’s what it comes down to.


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