August 20, 2019
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Faced with the grief of ending a pregnancy, insurance coverage shouldn’t be an added worry

Rogelio V. Solis | AP
Rogelio V. Solis | AP

We all play many roles in life. I myself am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and an attorney. I am also someone who had a second trimester abortion.

We terminated the pregnancy of our third son, Dylan, on June 2, 2016. He was wanted and he was loved.

Because I was over 35 at the time of my pregnancy, I had several early ultrasounds as well as non-invasive genetic testing. Everything was progressing normally. However, when I was 17-weeks pregnant, I received a call from my doctor letting me know that some routine lab work had come back as abnormal.

My doctor wasn’t concerned, but she had me in for another ultrasound to confirm that everything was fine.

A few minutes into the ultrasound, the technician touched my arm and said, “I’m sorry sweetie, but I do see something.”

My doctor confirmed that Dylan had an open neural tube defect — the most severe type of spina bifida. His brain appeared to be affected as well.

We were stunned and completely devastated. I felt like I was living in a nightmare, except no one could wake me up.

We needed more information about our son’s condition and fought to see specialists the next day. There, we learned that Dylan’s prognosis was grim. He would need serious surgeries within the first few days of his life to close the large opening on his spine and to insert a brain shunt. He would be in and out of hospitals his entire life. He would not walk and run with his brothers. He would not be able to use the bathroom on his own. He would have limited or no sexual function. He would be permanently brain damaged.

We knew that this was not a life we wanted for our son or for our other children. So, we made the heartbreaking decision to terminate our much-wanted pregnancy.

At 18 weeks, 3 days into my pregnancy, I was induced and delivered Dylan’s body. I held him and told him about his family, his brothers and why we made the choice to let him go. I sang him the three lullabies that I sing to our other children before bed. All that he knew was our love.

It’s been almost three years since we said goodbye to Dylan. While I’m still angry that he was so sick and that we had to face the terrible choice of terminating a much-wanted pregnancy, I will always be grateful for the sensitive and compassionate care that I received here in Maine. I know that I am fortunate to live in a state where I had the choice to terminate my pregnancy, had few restrictions and did not face significant barriers — including cost — in accessing the medical care that I needed.

My health insurance plan somehow covered my abortion, which would have otherwise cost nearly $15,000. Many other women in my situation are not as lucky, because insurance companies in Maine are not required to cover abortion services.

I can’t imagine what we would have done if we hadn’t had insurance coverage. I am grateful that we didn’t have to find out.

When faced with the devastation and grief involved in ending a wanted pregnancy, parents shouldn’t also have to worry about insurance coverage or how to pay for the care they need. No one in need of an abortion should be prevented from using her health insurance to cover the cost. But that’s what’s happening here in Maine. It’s not right.

Last week, the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Affairs Committee voted 8-5 in favor of a bill that will require insurance companies that cover prenatal care to also cover abortion care.

The full Legislature will vote on the bill this spring. I hope legislators will remember my story and think of the women in similar situations who don’t have the insurance coverage that I did.

Erin Wolf is an attorney. She lives in Falmouth with her family.

 



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