A reader opens up:
Once I became pregnant, and even more after I miscarried at six weeks, my pro-choice position deepened that much further. If there’s one message I have, it’s this:
The capriciousness of miscarriage lays bare the tenuousness of life at that stage of development. It’s extremely hard to express just how dehumanizing it is to ban the loss of a pregnancy only if the person actually going through the pregnancy has any say in the process.
Something like 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage (so says the Mayo Clinic), and possibly 50% of undiagnosed pregnancies (according to the March of Dimes). The body rejects an embryo early if something is wrong. Why, when it’s so easy for the body to reject a zygote or embryo, should women be forbidden from jump-starting a process that the body so often does simply as a matter of course?
Why should it be strictly up to the vagaries of chemistry and biology to decide that an embryo, or the environment it would come into, is unfit? Nature’s capable enough to make this decision, but a human being isn’t?
A miscarriage, AKA spontaneous abortion, is both the most natural thing and an incredible betrayal from your own body, in large part because you have no control over it. If you could ban bodies from terminating pregnancies, banning doctors from terminating them might make a tiny bit more sense, at least intellectually. But you can’t, and it doesn’t.
I saw the embryo after it passed. And at that stage, it does not even look like a proto-person. Saying my miscarriage “ended human life” is a big stretch – and I’m the one it unwillingly happened to! I was sad, obviously. But having seen what an embryo looks like at that stage, and how fragile and non-human it is at six weeks, the thought of anyone valuing a reticulated clump of tissue over the experience of an actual living, breathing person infuriates me. At my miscarriage, it was only two steps past ovulation. Some pregnancies are lost so early that a miscarriage is mistaken for a period. People don’t mourn over a lost egg. Mourning the loss of something one or two steps past that so intently that you want to ban anything that induces it is just ludicrous.
After I came back to work after being in the hospital, I told my boss I was doing okay, and that it’s such a common thing – a fact known almost exclusively to only two groups of people: doctors, and people who have had miscarriages. And she said, “No. It’s a big deal.” And I’m like, who the hell are you to tell me whether it’s a big deal or not? I feel the exact way about people who want to ban abortions.
Many more reader experiences in our long-running thread, “The Misery Of Miscarriage“.