I will always remember the last time I heard my son’s heartbeat.  It is a memory that is imprinted on my soul.  

That day, my husband and I went to what we believed to be a routine 20-week ultrasound. We had had multiple scans due to my history of first-trimester miscarriage. But that morning, our world came crashing down around us when we were told that our unborn baby had an open neural tube defect or spina bifida and it appeared to be severe. The next day we saw a specialist who confirmed the diagnosis, and they told us things were much worse than what we initially thought. This was the first time that we were told that ending the pregnancy was an option that we should consider.

The idea of ending my pregnancy was something that hadn’t even occurred to us at the time. That night was filled with many tears and a lot of emotional heartache. The following day, we saw a surgeon who explained to us what it would be like if I carried our baby to term. He would have little to no functioning nervous system and would likely not be able to breathe on his own, he would need many surgeries, and lack cognitive ability. After that appointment, my husband and I looked at each other and asked each other “what our instinct was telling us to do?”

Together, both of us decided that we needed to end the pregnancy. This decision left us within a very short window to schedule and complete the procedure. I was now at 21 weeks. 

Four days into our nightmare, we were told by the hospital that our insurance denied the pre-approval and that we would have to pay cash on the first day of the three-day procedure. They would give us a discount but we still had to come up with $5000 in only a couple of days. 

My husband and I were lucky. We had options. We lived in Colorado, which meant we had time to make a decision based on the best medical information, scans, and tests. We were privileged. 

If a 22-week ban on abortion had been in place, we would have had no options. 

It took me many years to be comfortable talking about what we had been through with people beyond my immediate family and my support group.t  In many ways, I felt alone in my grief and isolated by my experience. But I am here not just to speak my truth but to speak for those that still feel the stigma of having made the choice, those that are still new in this painful journey of grief, those that feel that they don’t have a voice.  We are wives, mothers, sisters. We are your co-workers, your neighbors, or complete strangers that you pass on the street. We are no different than the person sitting next to you. 

If we had faced legal barriers like Initiative 120, it would have left us with nowhere to turn for medical care, emotional support, and it would have left us even more isolated than we are now. Using families like mine as political weapons is disgraceful. To force a person to carry a dying fetus to term only to watch helplessly as it suffers is unimaginably cruel. No one should be put in a position to rush critical medical decisions only to meet some imaginary line set by politicians and strangers. 

Colorado is one of only a few states that doesn’t have gestational restrictions on abortion care, and because of that, pregnant women across the nation, who are in situations similar to mine, come to Colorado for help. A 22-week ban on abortion in our state won’t just affect patients and families here in Colorado, but its effects will be felt across the country. 

Please don’t support Initiative 120. These deeply personal decisions should be made by families, in consultation with medical professionals, without political interference. 

Amy Lynn is a wife and professional who lives and works in Colorado.