Tweedall ended up terminating her pregnancy five days into the New Year on January 5, 2016. “It was the hardest thing of my entire life,” she says.
Tweedall says after she returned to Tennessee, people kept trying to reassure her that what she had done “wasn’t an abortion.” “But I kept saying, ‘No, it is,'” she said. Abortion, because the stigmatized image that people have of abortion is not always what it is.”
Tweedall later learned that she could have had an abortion at a Tennessee hospital, after all. the state laws allow women to have abortions in clinics until they are 15 weeks pregnant. Then, between 15 weeks and fetal viability (20 to 22 weeks), a woman can have an abortion in the hospital. These medical establishments have the right to refuse patients, which means that they are not required to perform the procedure, they are just authorized to do so. If Tweedall had been more aware of Tennessee Lawsshe might have avoided traveling 491 miles just to receive a legal and safe medical procedure she needed.
“It was just interesting to find out that technically my doctor should have fought for me,” she says. “But nobody did. Nobody fought for me. And that’s disheartening. You rely on your doctors, especially in a crisis situation, to give you accurate information. – I don’t know – the regulations and the way I was treated by the medical team here in Tennessee didn’t make it any easier. I even had to call and follow up on our paperwork. Thank goodness for my husband, because he did most of it while I was on the floor crying. So to find out later that technically I should have been able to go home to my bed that night is just awful.
And while reliving those experiences brings back negative feelings, Tweedall says it’s getting easier to talk about them. When I spoke to her in early January, she was about to give birth to another child. After three years, a miscarriage and an abortion, she and her husband finally welcome a second child into their family. “It’s been nine long months,” she says. “It’s been so long, and we had to go through so much bullshit to get here.”
And whether her tragic experience brings change, inspires openness, or makes someone feel less alone, she’s happy to share it. “At least if my story can help someone, it’s worth telling,” she says.
Do you feel motivated to take action? There are tons of ways to make your voice heard. SELF’s resources on finding activism and getting involved in political decision-making are great places to start. And if you are passionate about women’s access to reproductive health care in particular, you may also want to consider donate to the Center for Reproductive Rights, volunteer for NARAL Pro-Choice America, donate to the Reproductive Health Access ProjectWhere volunteer for Planned Parenthood.