On Wednesday evening, Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend shared some heartbreaking news: they had lost their baby, a son they had decided to name Jack, to pregnancy complications.
Almost immediately, Teigen was inundated with words of support and solidarity from fans and women who had experienced miscarriage themselves. But like any woman brave enough to be vulnerable on social media, Teigen was also attacked: by conspiracy theorists, would-be haters, and GOP politicians hellbent on politicizing one woman’s excruciating loss.
“Hoping that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend will reevaluate their thoughts on abortion after their heartbreaking experience,” Eroll Webber, a GOP candidate for congress out of California, tweeted mere hours after the couple announced their loss. “It’s not a clump of cells. It’s either a baby or it’s not.”
The vile decision to politicize one woman’s loss in order to curtail abortion rights aside — and what a gigantic aside that is, because that insensitivity alone is worthy of public shaming — this tweet by a Republican vying for public office highlights the overwhelming misunderstanding of those who oppose the constitutional right to legal abortion. They have a foundational misunderstanding of pregnancy itself.
A reported one in four women will have an abortion during their lifetime, to say nothing of the trans men and nonbinary people who will also make the decision to terminate their pregnancies. One in four of those same people will also experience miscarriage — their hopes of carrying a pregnancy to term dashed by biology and chance and circumstance. To pretend these two groups are at odds with one another is to be fundamentally and willfully ignorant about reproduction and the common outcomes of conception.
The woman who endures a miscarriage or a pregnancy and infancy loss and the woman who has an abortion is the same woman. I would know. I am both of these women.
In my 20s, I had an abortion at seven weeks gestation after learning I was pregnant. At the time I was a year out of college, woefully broke, living paycheck to paycheck, and in what can only be described as a toxic, borderline abusive relationship. The decision to seek out abortion care was almost immediate: my partner and I both knew we were not ready or capable of being parents. I had my abortion on a Saturday, watched rerun episodes of The Office afterward, and returned to work the following Monday.
Years later, after meeting the most wonderful man who is now the father of my two children, ages six and one, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with twins. In a far better position — financially, mentally, emotionally, and romantically — I knew I was ready. I could be the mom my future sons deserved. Like Teigen tweeted in August when she announced her unplanned, and very welcomed, pregnancy, “life has a way of surprising you.”
At 19 weeks, I was told by a tired, if not clearly overworked, emergency room physician that Twin A no longer had a beating heart. The future I had envisioned for myself and my budding family — one with two cribs, two sets of onesies, a father playing catch with two boys, and two newborns carefully secured into infant car seats on our way home from the hospital — vanished instantly.
But in the throes of my immense grief, I found clarity. It is the same clarity I have found time and time again since that fateful day — when I gave birth to a healthy son and the remains of the son that should have been; when a little over a year later I had an ectopic pregnancy; when I miscarried at work; when I miscarried again at home.
Because the core of these experiences is, and always has been, choice. The choice to decide when and how to grow our families. The choice as to whether or not we carry a pregnancy to term. Sometimes that choice is taken away from us, by way of miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and stillbirth. But those tragic outcomes do not give the government permission to take the ability to choose away from all pregnant people, too.
This clarity of my experiences has only solidified my resounding and fierce support for unfettered, safe, legal, affordable access to abortion care for all.
The GOP and anti-abortion advocates would like us all to believe that the woman who miscarries, the woman who cannot get pregnant, the woman who experiences infant loss, is at war with the women and other pregnant people who have abortions. But we’re not. We’re the same woman — the same people — experiencing one of many pregnancy outcomes. We’re the people fighting and hoping that every outcome of conception was a choice we could make for ourselves.