Story No. 187: Dr. Jennifer from California

I saw Maria a few months ago when she came to the hospital with an anencephalic pregnancy. Her baby had developed without a brain, and there was no chance it would live past birth.

Maria was a 37-year-old single mom working full-time for the U.S. Postal Service and supporting three kids, ages four, seven, and nine. Her doctor discovered the baby’s condition when Maria was 16 weeks pregnant.

She spent the next two weeks trying to convince her insurance company to pay for a surgical abortion, which would cost about $2,000. As a government employee, however, Maria had insurance that would not pay for such a procedure—unless, she was told, she had been raped or the pregnancy posed risks to her health. Maria’s fetus was doomed to die within minutes of birth.

In the eyes of the government, her situation wasn’t grave enough to allow an abortion. It wasn’t until six weeks later that Maria was able to get an abortion at the hospital. She needed that time to gather the money for the procedure and arrange transportation and childcare. The delays she faced increased her risk for complications, putting her health in danger. These circumstances are not unique to Maria. Women all over the United States grapple with such undue burdens every day.