Michigan Sen. Gary Peters shares his personal abortion story

Peters is first sitting senator in US history to share personal abortion experience

Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., questions Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to examine Department of Homeland Security personnel deployments to recent protests on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Washington. (Toni Sandys/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) (Pool The Washington Post, The Washington Post)

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters has decided to go public with a very personal story about an abortion he and his wife experienced 30 years ago.

In an exclusive interview with Elle magazine, Peters described how he and his wife, Heidi, had to face an unwanted abortion head on when she was pregnant with their second child. The abortion saved his wife’s life, he said.

Heidi’s water broke during the fourth month of her pregnancy, “leaving fetus without amniotic fluid -- a condition it could not possibly survive.”

Peters told the magazine the doctor told him and his wife they would have to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally. That never happened. An abortion was the next step because the fetus had no chance of survival. However, Peters said the hospital had a policy that banned such abortions.

From Elle:

“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense,” Peters says, “trying to have a miscarriage for a child that was wanted.”

As they waited, Heidi’s health deteriorated. When she returned to the hospital on the third day, after another night without a natural miscarriage, the doctor told her the situation was dire. She could lose her uterus in a matter of hours if she wasn’t able to have an abortion, and if she became septic from the uterine infection, she could die.

The doctor appealed to the hospital’s board for an exception to their anti-abortion policy and was denied. “I still vividly remember he left a message on the answering machine saying, ‘They refused to give me permission, not based on good medical practice, simply based on politics. I recommend you immediately find another physician who can do this procedure quickly,’” Peters recalls.


You can read the full Elle magazine story with Peters here.

With this story, Peters is the first sitting senator in U.S. history to share a personal experience with abortion. He told the magazine that he decided to go public with this story now because “it’s important for folks to understand that these things happen to folks every day.”

Peters has served in the U.S. Senate since his 2014 election. Before that he served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Now the Democrat is working to defend his Senate seat this year against Republican nominee John James.

Read: Peters vs. James in Michigan US Senate race: Where they stand on 6 big issues

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