Kelsey Crelin: Keep politicians out of the doctor's office

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Nine years ago I was pregnant and preparing to bring a child into the world, with plans to raise her in Vermont.

When I was five and a half months pregnant, I learned that her cerebellum, the back part of the brain, was not developing properly. The cerebellum controls our movement, behavior, and cognitive ability. The chances of my baby being born alive were slim, and the chances of her having any quality of life were non-existent.

I met with specialists, including a pediatric geneticist, and learned she had Dandy-Walker malformation, a congenital (present at birth) defect, and it was severe. Sadly, this was in addition to her newly diagnosed heart condition.

Living in Vermont, I am grateful I had choices. I chose to end the pregnancy because I was told my baby would not have any cognitive function if she even survived. It was a loving act of mercy, which I chose after careful consultation with physicians.

The doctors and I were a team, and there was no hidden agenda on their part. I was counseled about all of my options, including the intense level of care my child would need - again, if she survived. My family was incredibly supportive as well, and I consider myself lucky to have had their emotional support.

Abortion later in pregnancy is rare, and when it does occur, it is almost exclusively because a woman's health is at risk, a woman's life is at risk, or because in my case, a severe fetal diagnosis. There are a lot of outrageous allegations about pregnancy and abortion being made and they are getting a lot of attention. I want to be clear: these misleading claims are completely false and offensive to women who face pregnancy complications.

These circumstances deserve compassion, not shaming. These are situations where women and their doctors need to have every medical option available, including abortion, not restrictions by politicians who would tie doctors' hands and risk women's lives.

Every person's circumstance is different and every pregnancy is unique. We all deserve access to health care based on our medical needs and doctor's best judgement, and no one else.

This is why I'm so glad to see the effort underway in the Vermont House of Representatives to pass the abortion rights bill (H.57). Vermonters have the right to safe, legal abortion care without red tape or government interference, and the majority of our representatives understand this.

I never want a politician at my bedside when I make fiercely personal health care decisions. The Vermont House of Representatives is doing the right thing by working to pass H.57 so that people can make these decisions with their families and health care professionals we trust. I'm already proud to live in Vermont, and will be even prouder when this bill becomes a law.

Kelsey Crelin lives in Albany, Vermont.

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