Trigger warning: abortions.

I read a fantastic article recently about current trends in pregnancy termination. I can’t speak about those larger-scale statistics the way that doctor can. I haven’t done the necessary research to understand how pregnancy termination works in our society at large. All I can really discuss are my own feelings on the matter, which seem in today’s political climate to matter as much as actual hard data. So here goes.

My first emotional response, immediately upon seeing any news about abortions, or Planned Parenthood, or NARAL, is gratitude. I am so, so grateful, on a deep and personal level, that these services exist. I think back to a kind of horror few people will experience: hearing my then-girlfriend, now-wife, tell me over the phone: “Something’s wrong.” We had only found out we were pregnant a few days earlier. I told her to call the hospital. I clocked out of work just before noon, and drove to the ER to meet her. I was there, holding her hand, when we were told that it was an ectopic pregnancy, in which the egg is lodged in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, and that allowing it to proceed would be utterly destructive to the blastocyte, and probably fatal to the mother. My partner. The woman whose hand I was holding.

We were fortunate enough to get this early warning, so there was a medical solution. It turns out there’s some arthritis medication out there that is also an abortifacient; it took six weeks, but the pregnancy was “resolved”. I gave her all the support I could during that time. I cooked her meals, gave her foot rubs, and helped her binge on the stupidest sitcoms we could find. The initial shock of terror, at how much danger she’d been in, slowly curdled into despair, then grief, which finally worked itself out the way it tends to do.

I am so, SO grateful that we were able to save her life in that way. Six months later, we were pregnant again. A few weeks after that, we got a little bit less lucky. When the OB/GYN told us that we’d had a second ectopic, she said that sometimes, a tube just doesn’t work right. And since this was in the same tube as the first one, she recommended ligation- surgically removing the offending plumbing. More shock, more grief, more brainless sitcoms. Never anything past about the midpoint of season 3, because we did NOT want to hear about fictional characters having better pregnancies than ours, and we absolutely did not want to see them pretend to have ones as bad as ours for some Very Special Episode.

We are the couple that needs a trigger warning on “Up”.

So yes, when I see stories about abortion clinics- even ones that are worrying about the incessant political actions against them, or worse, the ones worrying that those actions might fail- my immediate reaction is to be grateful that they’re there at all. That they are providing this life-saving service. We need to keep the existing ones open, and expand abortion services to anywhere there are people who can get pregnant. My follow-up feelings depend heavily on the nature of the piece, but I will forever be grateful to the hardworking doctors who twice saved my wife’s life.

If you want me to feel regret, well, yes. That’s there, too. It’s there because the first time we went through this, the doctor had to spend any of his energy wondering if we were going to have a fight about terminating the pregnancy. We were all very much on the same page, but the fact that he had to find out whether we’d be fighting him on trying to save his patient’s life means that we have got to do better as a society. We have to stop spreading the kind of misinformation that article is working to correct, and provide solid, evidence-based medical recommendations. And I regret that we are still in that world, and not in a better one.

But the first thing I always feel, and will always feel, is gratitude. Because those terminated pregnancies, as painful as they were, meant that I could continue to be here, with my wife, and with any luck at all, we can finally, safely, be a family.