Gary Peters, in a first for a US senator, shares his ‘painful and traumatic’ abortion story

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Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich

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“It’s a story about how heartbreaking and complicated decisions can relate to reproductive health, a situation I experienced with my first wife.”

It’s US Senator Gary Peters, a moderate Democrat from Michigan, who goes where no sitting senator in US history has gone before by sharing details of his personal experience with abortion.

“It’s important for people to understand that these things happen to people every day,” Peters explained to Elle magazine in an interview. “I’ve always considered myself pro-choice and I think women should be able to make those decisions themselves, but when you experience it in real life, you realize the significant impact it can have on a family.”

Peters recounted how his first wife, Heidi, was four months pregnant when her waters broke, leaving the fetus without amniotic fluid. She was told the baby would not survive and she would have to wait for a natural miscarriage. When that didn’t happen, the doctor recommended an abortion to save her life, but the hospital had banned the procedure.

“I still remember very well [the doctor] left a message on the answering machine saying, “They refused to give me permission, not on the basis of good medical practice, just on the basis of policy”. I recommend that you immediately find another doctor who can perform this procedure quickly, Peters said.

As her health deteriorated over the next few days, the couple called on a friend from another hospital who was able to perform the abortion. In a statement, Heidi said in a statement to Elle that the whole experience was “painful and traumatic.”

Peters said the determining factor in his decision to come forward at this time had to do with concerns over Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmation hearings as a Supreme Court nominee began this week, and her record of favoring the restrictions on access to abortion.

“[Coney Barrett] could make a decision that will have major ramifications for women’s reproductive health for decades to come,” Peters said. “This is a pivotal moment for reproductive freedom.”

For more on Amy Coney Barrett’s audition, follow our live blog.

Meanwhile, Peters finds himself fight in a tight race with Republican businessman John James for the Michigan Senate seat in the upcoming November election. Polls show Peters with a slight advantage.

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