Shanae Smith-Cunningham, left, and Anya Cook, shown in Lauderhill, Fla., experienced complications with their pregnancies in December because of pre-viability PPROM. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
*The consequences of Florida’s new abortion ban on two Black women are laid out in heartbreaking detail in The Washington Post.
After a number of miscarriages, Anya Cook thought she had turned a corner when she reached the 15-week mark of her latest pregnancy. But the Florida resident’s hopes were dashed when her water broke prematurely at nearly 16 weeks.
According to the Washington Post, by the time Cook was finally seen by an emergency room doctor, she was told that “because of the state’s abortion law, he could not induce labor.”
She was essentially told to leave, offered antibiotics, and a nurse told her that she “promised to pray for her.” Cook passed her fetus in a public bathroom the next day and nearly died in the operating room from loss of blood.
The next day, Cook’s friend Shanae Smith-Cunningham was also denied care for the same condition, called pre-viability preterm pre-labor rupture of the membranes, aka PPROM. Simply put, it’s when a pregnant mother’s water breaks before viability. (See Anya and Shanae’s joint MSNBC interview about their ordeal below.)
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Florida’s 15-week abortion limit, in effect since last July, has an exception to save the mother’s physical health and life. The law states that the exception applies “whenever two physicians certify in their reasonable medical judgment that terminating a pregnancy is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to ‘avert a serious risk’ of ‘substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.’”
However, PPROM does not meet the criteria for this exemption.
Even pro-life obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Ingrid Skop feels that mothers with PPROM should be exempted. She told the National Review that “it’s very, very hard to predict who’s going to get sick really fast,” with PPROM, adding, “I say this as a pro-life physician: It is appropriate to deliver at that point. Because we know that likelihood that four days, six days [later], she’s going to be clinically infected. We know that the likelihood this child was going to make it to be born alive, to stay alive, not die in the neonatal period, is super low.”
Anya Cook, comforted by her husband, Derick, learns she will need another surgery on March 29, 2023 in Margate, Florida. Cook had a miscarriage in December that nearly killed her and is still dealing with issues related to it. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
However, Republican state senator Kelli Stargel insists that no carve-outs need to be made for PPROM, stating “The bottom line is we value life, and we would like to protect life…We don’t want to give a gaping exception that anyone can claim.”
Cook and Smith-Cunningham say they are still determined to become mothers and plan to start trying soon, but they worry about what will happen if even more strict laws are passed.
“Getting pregnant now feels like a death sentence,” said Cook, with Smith-Cunningham adding “They are playing with people’s lives with this law,” and with the abortion ban at six-weeks now “hurtl[ing] forward, it appears [Gov. Ron] DeSantis is happy to let his constituents die, nearly die, or suffer greatly simply for the sake of his presidential ambitions.”
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