Politics

Rep. Katherine Clark shares story of her miscarriage to draw attention to impacts of restrictions on reproductive rights

“If there were bounty hunters when I suffered a miscarriage, would my routine surgery have been readily available to me?”

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rep. Katherine Clark is sharing the story her own miscarriage, using her personal experience to draw attention to the efforts underway across the country to restrict reproductive rights and access to basic care.

The Democrat and Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who represents Massachusetts’s 5th District, wrote in the Boston Globe on Thursday about what happened when she went in for a routine prenatal visit “years ago” and a sonogram confirmed her pregnancy was no longer viable. 

“It was crushing,” Clark said. “I was sent home to wait to miscarry, but like half of all miscarriages, mine required a procedure to remove the fetal tissue that could cause a lethal infection.”

Clark questioned whether she would have had the same access to treatment today, pointing to a law in Texas that largely outlaws abortion and offers bounties to people who successfully sue individuals who have helped a woman get an abortion.

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If Roe v. Wade is struck down by the Supreme Court, Clark stressed that the laws restricting access to abortions and reproductive care passed by dozens of other states will go into effect. 

“Despite the fact that nearly 1 in 4 Americans will have an abortion by age 45, it is treated as a unique subset of health care: one where a person’s agency to make decisions is denied,” she wrote. “But the campaign against reproductive justice doesn’t start and end at abortion. As legal abortion access hangs in the balance, it is clear that attacks on reproductive health care and attacks on policies that support families and children are all part of an orchestrated plot to maintain the status quo and keep it from those who have been left out and left behind.”

The congresswoman gave the example of  “a renewed assault on mifepristone,” an abortion pill that is also used for nonsurgical miscarriages. 

“If there were bounty hunters when I suffered a miscarriage, would my routine surgery have been readily available to me?” she asked. “Certainly not. What if my doctor prescribed a nonsurgical abortion but the medication had been outlawed in my state?

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“The very point of these restrictive laws is to make providing abortions a legal and emotional nightmare for patients and doctors,” Clark wrote. “No matter the health risks or economic harm a forced pregnancy could inflict, antiabortion activists and politicians are hell-bent on controlling our lives. And they’re proving they’ll stop at nothing to achieve their goal.”

Clark argued that the fight for reproductive rights and freedoms is the “same fight to dismantle systemic racism and misogyny and bring the ideals of equality and justice set forth in our Constitution to reality.”

“When I miscarried, I received compassionate care that didn’t infringe on my job or my ability to care for myself or my family, and for women of privilege like me, that will probably always be the case,” she wrote in the Globe. “To make change and protect the right to abortion and the ability of everyone to access care, we have to acknowledge we are up against a coordinated campaign to hold onto the existing hierarchy.”

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