Weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a Texas woman’s heartbreaking story is shedding light on the very personal impact of abortion bans.
Marlena Stell recently spoke to CNN about her “gut-wrenching” miscarriage and how she was forced to carry her dead fetus for two weeks after a doctor refused to provide medical intervention due to a Texas anti-abortion law.
Stell, a beauty YouTuber and founder of cosmetics company Makeup Geek, initially explained in a video last year that she and her husband were thrilled to learn of her pregnancy, noting that an ultrasound at around 7 weeks showed that everything with her baby was normal.
However, another ultrasound two weeks later revealed Stell suffered a pregnancy loss. “[The doctor] said there is no heartbeat. There is no viable pregnancy,” she told the outlet.
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Following the news, Stell asked her doctor for a dilation and curettage procedure (D&C), a surgery to remove the fetus that is also used to abort a living fetus, in order to avoid infection or long-term health issues.
“The doctor said, ‘Because of the new law that’s passed here, you have to schedule another ultrasound to verify that this pregnancy is not valid before we can give you any sort of medical intervention,’ Stell told her social media followers.
Dr. Lillian Schapiro, an Atlanta-based OB-GYN, told CNN that carrying a dead fetus can quickly become dangerous for the mother.
“She can develop an infection that can make her sterile and never able to have children again,” Schapiro said. “When the baby dies inside, the baby starts to release parts of its tissue that can get into the mother’s blood supply. It can cause organ failure. It can cause death.”
Stell admitted that she was “devastated” and did not want to experience a second ultrasound knowing that her baby was gone. She also feared for her own health.
“Someone shoves a wand in my sensitive area and tells me, ‘Hey, you lost your baby’ again. I shouldn’t have to go through that twice,” Stell explained in tears.
“It’s gut-wrenching… cause you already know what you’re going to see. It’s just like, seeing it twice, being told that you’re not going to be a mom,” she tells CNN. “Just emotionally carrying it around and just knowing that there’s nothing you could do. It just feels very … it’s like I can’t grieve or move past it because I’m just walking around carrying it.”
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Stell explained in her video that doctors and anti-abortion protesters also made her feel like she did something wrong.
After two weeks, she told the outlet that she was finally able to find a doctor who would perform her D&C.
“I get so angry that I was treated this way because of laws that were passed by men who have never been pregnant and never will be,” Stell told her followers. “I’m frustrated, I’m angry and I feel like the women here deserve better than that. “It doesn’t matter what side of the fence that you want to sit on, laws like this affect all women regardless of what situation you’re in and it’s not right.”