Michigan Sen. Gary Peters becomes first sitting senator to share personal abortion experience

Procedure saved Peters' then-wife, senator says

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.

He said the procedure saved his wife’s life.

Peters became the first sitting senator in history to share his abortion story. Advocates hope his story helps others feel comfortable telling their own stories.

At just four months, Peters' then-wife’s water broke. Doctors said the fetus would not survive, despite detecting a faint heartbeat and recommended an abortion. However, they were unable to perform the procedure at the hospital and told the couple to go home and wait for a miscarriage.

Over the next day, Heidi’s health took a turn and the unviable fetus putting her in potentially life-threatening danger. The Peters were forced to go to a different hospital after an emergency abortion was denied.

“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense,” Peters said. “It’s important for folks to understand that these things happen to folks every day.”

The senator is the first in the upper chamber’s history to talk about abortion, typically thought of as a women’s issue.

His story comes as abortion advocates warn major cases like Roe v. Wade could be under threat should judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Beyond the politics, women’s health advocates said Peters' coming forward helps moves abortion out of the shadows for the better.

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

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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