U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) opened up this week that his first wife, Heidi, had to have an abortion because her life was at risk.
“It’s a story of how gut-wrenching and complicated decisions can be related to reproductive health, a situation I went through with [her],” Peters told Elle.
It occurred in the late 1980s in Detroit, when Heidi was pregnant with the couple’s second child. Heidi’s water broke when she was four months into the pregnancy, meaning the fetus had no amniotic fluid in which to survive, according to Peters. The Peterses were told to wait for a miscarriage to occur, but it didn’t.
“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense, trying to have a miscarriage for a child that was wanted,” Peters told Elle.
Heidi’s condition then worsened, Peters said. She would lose her uterus without an abortion and she risked becoming septic, or infected, which could have resulted in her death.
Their doctor’s appeal to the hospital board for an emergency abortion was not granted. Peters recalled how their doctor left a voicemail and in it said the board refused to give him permission “not based on good medical practice, simply based on politics.”
Heidi was able to have the procedure done at another facility.
“It’s important for folks to understand that these things happen to folks every day,” he told Elle. “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.”
Peters is running for reelection against Republican nominee John James, who supports overturning the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which said a woman can choose to have an abortion without government oversight.
Peters shared his story just before U.S. Senate hearings began on Amy Coney Barrett — a conservative judge whose record indicates she is anti-abortion — who President Donald Trump nominated to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“The new Supreme Court nominee could make a decision that will have major ramifications for reproductive health for women for decades to come,” Peters said. “This is a pivotal moment for reproductive freedom.”