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A Declaration of Independence for American Women (7.3.18)

It’s time to shine light on a real life outcome concerning the power of Roe v. Wade. Women’s rights are human rights. No man, no woman, no government, no institution, no church, NO ONE should limit a woman’s RIGHT TO CHOOSE what is right and best for her unique situation concerning her own body and her own life. It takes 2 minutes or less to create a baby. A baby is a lifelong decision and affects the mother much more than the father. Women’s bodies are sacrificed for the process of carrying a baby (40 weeks for a full term baby), delivering a baby (no easy or simple task), and supporting a baby after the birth. Women and girls deserve to have control over their bodies and their destinies. Some children are created out of Love, but most babies are created from sex. Women and girls carry the burden of these unwanted, unexpected, and unplanned pregnancies. Roe v. Wade empowers females. I am one of these females. Following is a letter that I wrote back in 2003 to a compassionate OB/GYN in Richmond, VA who provided abortions for women who needed them. Today I am Declaring my Independence as an American Woman by celebrating my right to choose.

June 18, 2003

Dear Dr. Fitzhugh,

I am writing to thank you for performing an abortion on me 13 years ago. I met my husband Nathan in January 1990. Nathan was 22 years old and a full time student at VCU and was not employed. I was 26 years old, working a full time job as an Activities Director at a retirement community plus a part-time job in the evenings barely making ends meet to live in an apartment with a roommate.

I lost my job at the retirement community in May, because my 3rd boss within 10 months did not like me which was incredibly painful for me. As a result of this job loss, I decided to move back home with my parents and go to graduate school in the fall at VCU to improve myself and my future job opportunities. I also figured out that with this new plan, Nathan and I would both be students at the same time and have more in common together.

I have a pituitary tumor which causes irregular periods and three different endocrinologists told me that it may be very difficult for me to become pregnant. I always used birth control, however the one time I did not use birth control based on unusual circumstances plus this theory about my pituitary tumor and BINGO! I got pregnant. It was an unwanted, undesired, unplanned pregnancy. I found out that I was pregnant within the first month of the pregnancy around my birthday in August 1990.

I was shocked and I was stunned. I had just turned 27 years old and I was not ready and I did not want to have a baby! I barely knew my future husband to be. He was four years younger than me, naïve, and inexperienced with relationships. He wanted to get married and have the baby. We were engaged, theoretically, but I still felt like we needed more time for our relationship to mature before we got married. I also did not want a baby to be the main reason that we were getting married.

I wanted to become a mother in the future, however the timing of this baby was not fair to me, the baby, nor my relationship with Nathan. I knew that the only choice for me was to have an abortion. I was trying to IMPROVE my chances to get a good, full time job with benefits to take care of myself. It took me 4 years of job searching with an undergraduate college degree to get a full time job and I had recently lost that job after 10 months of employment due to a personality conflict with my third boss. I could not imagine trying to raise a child while Nathan and I were both college students. I was working part-time and starting graduate school full time. My grandfather was helping me pay for my expensive health insurance policy as a young adult. Nathan and I were both living at home with our respective parents. We weren’t married which was the first step in having a child, at least, to me. We were still getting to know each other! This was NOT how I wanted to create a family! Nathan reluctantly supported my decision to have an abortion.

I remember contacting my gynecologist stating that I needed an abortion and having the door SLAMMED shut on me. I was stunned. I thought abortions were LEGAL, yet my own doctor and staff would not talk to me about any options. Every health professional I spoke to treated me like a leper. How could people do this to a young woman in a vulnerable position who needed help and guidance when abortions were LEGAL? I felt abandoned, helpless, and hopeless. All of the health professionals I spoke to kept suggesting that I go to Washington, D.C. for an abortion. That solution made me FURIOUS! I did not know anyone in D.C.! Why would I travel a long distance to a strange environment when I was already stressed out and upset about my situation? I think my mother was supportive of my decision, but I don’t remember her offering to help me in any way.

Somehow I ended up contacting the clinic at Boulevard and Grove. My former roommate used to picket for N.O.W. (National Organization for Women) at this clinic to support women having a choice about whether or not to have a baby, otherwise I knew nothing about the facility. I was told that I needed to bring $200.00 cash and be a certain number of weeks pregnant in order for the abortion to be effective.

I had had a D&C when I was 19 years old to stop a period that lasted over 45 days. I had heard that D&C’s were essentially the same thing as an abortion. The D&C never resolved my hemorrhaging, but that’s another story. I expected this abortion procedure to be the same experience as that outpatient surgery at Stuart Circle Hospital. I thought that I would be in a sterile, cold operating room, with bizarre leg warmers, anesthesia to put me to sleep, unconscious during the procedure, etc.

Nathan went with me to love and support me the day of the abortion which was during my second week of graduate school. We waited a long time in the waiting room together which was a surreal experience itself. The living room of this old house turned into a clinic was full of women of all ages and all backgrounds waiting to have an abortion. I was called upstairs and a counselor discussed the procedure and my decision with me using some type of plastic model. I was very clear that I wanted an abortion. When I went into the room for the actual procedure, I was shocked. The environment was nothing like I expected. I expected to be unconscious and not feel any pain. Where were the support devices that I had experienced during the outpatient surgery?

I got on the table and you began the procedure and I began crying uncontrollably from the fear of pain and how this process was being done based on what I was expecting. You stopped the procedure and told the nurse, “Get her out of here!” and I was escorted from the room. Nathan and I left the building and sat in the car in the parking lot while I cried and cried. Nathan reassured me that we could get married and have the baby if I was having any doubts about having the abortion. I did not have any doubts about my decision, or the abortion, I was just not mentally prepared for the procedure based on my previous experience with a D&C.

I went back in line to have the abortion that same day. This time when I got on the table I remember you commenting to the nurse, “Are you sure this is the same girl that was here earlier?” The procedure was effective and that opportunity to have a choice about my destiny and the destiny of that child, while not my ideal choice, has allowed me to mature as a person and become a mother when I was more ready. Thank you for having the guts and courage to provide myself and other women the opportunity to have safe, effective abortions in conservative Richmond, Virginia. Thank you also for being sensitive to my feelings when I started crying and giving me an opportunity to re-think and/or re-group myself for my decision.

After the abortion, I was planning to choose you as my new GYN, however when I shared my thoughts with the endocrinologist I was working with at that time, he described you as a “butcher” and persuaded me to go to another gynecologist. I regret that decision now, but I was young, naïve, and impressionable. I stayed with that gynecologist I was referred to, Dr. Maryann Kaveski, for 12 years until I had a planned pregnancy. I wanted to work with a mid-wife during my first pregnancy, but Dr. Kaveski did not support mid-wives or working with them.

Last year I found and worked with the mid-wife Nancy Giglio to have my first baby at 38 years of age. When I first met Nancy and learned that you two worked together, I thought it was very interesting that I was being led back to you again. It felt like I was coming full circle. For whatever reason though, Nancy suggested that I work with Victoria Davis who was a fairly new OB/GYN in your practice to have this baby, therefore I did. Ashlee came 10 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia and I almost died after she was born. Dr. Davis left the room after the birth and did not return until 45 minutes after she was called once Nancy determined that there was a problem. Part of the placenta had gotten stuck inside of me and I was bleeding to death. I survived that birth by the grace of God and Nancy’s help and hold Dr. Davis responsible for that dire situation. I know that her inexperience contributed significantly to my complications. After the hospital code, you were in the room at some point talking to Nancy once I was stabilized, but I was not able to talk to you. Although Ashlee’s birth and afterbirth were a traumatic experience for me, it was also an incredible learning experience. I am very blessed to be alive and a mother today with a healthy, happy baby.

Nathan and I have been married for 10 years this month. We have a successful residential roofing company that we have built together, and we have a more mature, healthy relationship with each other that enables us to be the best parents we can be to raise our beautiful, planned, welcomed children from the Universe. Thank you for helping us to be where we are today.

I am now pregnant with our second child and would like to work with Nancy again and would like for you to be my OB/GYN. I look forward to meeting you for my first appointment on Friday, June 27th and thanking you in person for the abortion you performed on me 13 years ago. I hope and pray that this pregnancy will be less dramatic than the first one, however everything is a learning experience, and I value the journey and the process. I look forward to working with you.

Sincerely yours,

Debbie Barbuto