A 31-year-old mother in South Dakota learned how difficult it is to get an abortion there when a doomed pregnancy led her to consider it.
In two previous pregnancies, the fetus was afflicted with a rare, inherited and ultimately fatal condition called achondrogenesis, her doctor said. It causes deadly deformities. One of the babies died an hour after birth; the other was stillborn.
The Rapid City woman gave birth to two healthy children after that and decided to have another child.
But early in the pregnancy this year she learned this fetus was afflicted, too. The woman said she was worried she would develop breathing problems that had plagued her during one of her earlier pregnancies. But the condition wasn't life-threatening, her doctor said.
The woman's husband has a chronic illness, and with two children to raise, she said she was worried about endangering her health.
"That was my main reason for considering abortion this time. I needed to be here for my kids," she said.
Her baby was delivered stillborn Oct. 14 during an emergency cesarean section. Complications developed and she lost a lot of blood but is recovering, her husband said.
Few South Dakota doctors perform abortions and the state's only abortion clinic is a nearly six-hour drive to the east, in Sioux Falls. Her obstetrician, Dr. Marvin Buehner, treats high-risk pregnancies and does a few abortions each year when pregnancy endangers the mother's life or health. But his hospital prohibits abortions otherwise.
Also, Medicaid pays for abortions in South Dakota only when the mother's life is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest. An abortion would require traveling across the state, paying for lodging during the required two-day waiting period, plus hundreds of dollars for the procedure.
"In South Dakota, you have to be almost close to death" to get an abortion, she said. "That kind of worries me."
Her religion helps her cope and she is philosophical. She believes she will be reunited with her lost babies in heaven.
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