Story No. 380: Dr. Erica from Illinois

**Trigger Warning – This story discusses pregnancy resulting from rape and assault**


“Mary”  presented at 22 weeks for a termination of pregnancy. The pregnancy was a result of rape. She didn’t tell anyone in her family what had happened. Her emotions surrounding the pregnancy were extremely complex, as she desperately wanted to have a child, but she felt guilt, shame, and isolation after the assault.

She had initially decided that she would continue the pregnancy, and that this would help her grieve and try to grasp on to something positive after such an unimaginable and traumatic experience. She then went for her anatomy scan at 20 weeks and was devastated to learn that the fetus had multiple lethal anomalies. After coming to a conclusion that continuing the pregnancy was the best thing for her to move past the attack, she had to face yet another agonizing decision. Ultimately, she decided to end the pregnancy, and she came to me at 22 weeks.

I live in a state where, thankfully, I was able to help her through the most difficult time in her life. I reflect back on this patient often, and think of how many other “Marys”  have a similar story but aren’t able to access this care because of lack of providers, unnecessary and cruel 20-week bans, or sky-high costs. How many Marys out there have been forced to carry a pregnancy to term or to deliver a baby that had such severe anomalies that it would likely not survive labor, or at best, would live a few minutes after delivery? Every woman seeking a termination of pregnancy has carefully considered her own unique circumstances, and has come to that decision because it is the best thing for her and her family. Every patient, no matter what gestational age, and no matter under what circumstance, deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.