I Wanted a Child. Instead, I Had Three Abortions.

And as a member of the clergy, I know the role of my religion is not to tell me what is medically permissible, including having an abortion.

Photo of protesters with a sign that reads stop the bans and another sign that says abortion is health care
Passing the EACH Act would permanently end the Hyde Amendment and related coverage bans. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

I didn’t want to have an abortion. I wanted to have a child. But during my first pregnancy, the fetus got stuck in my left fallopian tube, where it could never grow into a baby. So they injected me with the chemotherapy drug methotrexate, to “treat” the ectopic pregnancy. And when that didn’t work, they surgically removed the pregnancy along with my fallopian tube, which was damaged beyond repair.

If you live in Ohio, your legislature would have you believe that treating an ectopic pregnancy is a simple matter of reimplanting the fetus in the uterus, and oh, how I wish they were right! I would have loved to have salvaged that pregnancy. Maybe someday the medical field will figure that out, but at this moment, it’s just not possible.

To legislate otherwise is cruel.

At the time of our first pregnancy, I was on Medicaid. Because of the Hyde Amendment, a mandate that blocks any federal funds from being used for abortion, my insurance didn’t cover the procedure to avoid emergency surgery. Can you imagine living below the federal poverty line and then having to pay for essential health care?

We’re talking $11,000 in medical bills for someone who makes less than $13,000 a year. Those numbers do not add up. Luckily, I was living in a state where people earning that little can receive help to pay for medically necessary abortions. Nevertheless, I am painfully aware that many are not in the same privileged situation that I was. Because of the discriminatory and debilitating effects of the Hyde Amendment, people are forced to choose between health care and bankruptcy.

During our second pregnancy, the fetus implanted in the uterus, but the heart stopped beating at eight weeks. Once I knew the fetus wasn’t viable, I wanted to get the physical loss over with as soon as possible so I could process my grief and heal my body. Luckily, I live in a state where I could choose to schedule a surgical procedure to safely and quickly remove everything from my uterus. Had I lived in a state with a six-week abortion ban, I would have had to wait, possibly weeks, for the pregnancy to miscarry by itself, without any medical care to help the process along.

People often bring up the Bible in these conversations. As a member of the clergy, I am delighted to tell you that the Bible does not forbid abortion. It does, however, forbid placing a stumbling block before the blind, which we could read as analogous to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that regulations cannot impose a substantial obstacle to abortion.

We desperately need universal, affordable health care, so that any person … can access the best medicine has to offer. That includes abortion.

The role of my religion is not to tell me what is medically permissible, but rather to offer a spiritual and communal framework through which I may be comforted and strengthened in the healing process. As a cantor and a proud member of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Clergy for Repro campaign, I can say with authority that anyone who tells you otherwise is preaching from hate and fear rather than love and compassion.

I was ecstatically happy with my third pregnancy, until we found out at seven weeks that the fetus was stuck in my right fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy is always an emergency; the strain of the growing pregnancy can rupture the tube, potentially killing the pregnant person. My doctor sent me straight to the emergency room where I was again injected with methotrexate.

Three pregnancies, three abortions.

I am very grateful to my medical teams, without whom I might have died from the pregnancies.

I am very grateful to live in a state where I was able to make medical decisions with my doctors without political interference.

I am very grateful to have health insurance that helps pay for this necessary medical care, and I’m aware of how privileged I am in this regard.

We desperately need universal, affordable health care, so that any person, regardless of income bracket, citizenship status, or physical location, can access the best medicine has to offer. That includes abortion, without political interference getting in between us and our doctors.

We must call on our legislators to pass the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act to permanently end the Hyde Amendment and related coverage bans and to prohibit all forms of political interference with abortion.

Government, stay the hell out of my reproductive system.