Sen. Gary Peters opens up about his family’s personal abortion story

Sen. Gary Peters, for the first time, opened up about his personal experience with abortion in an Elle interview published Monday. 

The Michigan Democratic incumbent shared details of the abortion his then-wife underwent in her second trimester to save her life. Peters went public with the story as his reelection campaign continues and Senate hearings begin for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. 

In the 1980s, Peters first wife, Heidi, was four months pregnant with their second child when her water broke, leaving the fetus without amniotic fluid, Peters told the magazine. Doctors told them to wait for a miscarriage to naturally occur but that didn’t happen. 

“It’s a story of how gut-wrenching and complicated decisions can be related to reproductive health, a situation I went through with my first wife,” he told Elle.

The two went to the hospital the next day where the doctor recommended an abortion because the fetus had no chance of survival, but it wasn’t an option because of the hospital’s policy banning the procedure, according to Elle. The couple was told to wait again for a miscarriage.

“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense trying to have a miscarriage for a child that was wanted,” Peters told the magazine.

Heidi’s health deteriorated and when they went to the hospital again, the doctor said she could lose her uterus if she wasn’t able to have an abortion. If she were to become septic, she could die, doctors told them. 

But the hospital board refused the doctor’s appeal for an exception to the anti-abortion policy. It was then the doctor recommended the couple find another physician to do the procedure quickly, Peters said. 

Heidi was rushed into an emergency “abortion that saved her uterus and possibly her life,” according to Elle. 

The experience was “painful and traumatic,” she said in a statement to the magazine, adding “If it weren’t for urgent and critical medical care, I could have lost my life.”

Peters decided to go public with the story because “it’s important for folks to understand that these things happen to folks every day. I’ve always considered myself pro-choice and believe women should be able to make these decisions themselves, but when you live it in real life, you realize the significant impact it can have on a family,” he told Elle. 

Confirmation hearings began Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee for Barrett, who opposes abortion. As a law professor, she was among hundreds who signed an anti-abortion letter in a 2006 newspaper ad calling for “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade.”

Peters said he won’t vote to confirm Barrett. 

More: Fact-checking the US Senate race between Gary Peters and John James

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“Michiganders have already started voting and … they deserve to have a say in who nominates and confirms the next Supreme Court justice,” Peters said in a statement

“As I have said before, I do not support the Senate moving forward on a Supreme Court nomination until after Inauguration Day. I will vote against confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court.”

Peters is running a tight reelection campaign against Republican challenger, John James, who openly opposes abortion and called it a form of “genocide.” James favors overturning Roe v. Wade and has not said whether he supports Michigan’s pre-Roe abortion ban. 

“It’s important for folks who are willing to tell these stories to tell them, especially now. This is a pivotal moment for reproductive freedom,” Peters told the magazine. 

Contact Nushrat Rahman: [email protected]; 313-348-7558. Follow her on Twitter: @NushratRBecome a Free Press subscriber. 

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