Navigating a Pelvic Mass and Chronic Health Issues in a Post-Roe USA
Hi, there fellow humans, I’m Maison. My pronouns are she/her, I am a 26-year-old cisgender (identifying as the sex I was assigned at birth) woman and I have been living with multiple health conditions my entire life including but not limited to: severe widespread chronic pain, disk herniation, and lower back arthritis (as well as in some other places), PCOS, lymphatic issues, chronic wounds, and most importantly, it seems, a rare and still undiagnosed genetic overgrowth syndrome that affects my right leg and foot since birth. My overgrowth syndrome has also caused some overflow of my adipose tissue that composes my leg into my pelvis.
On June 24, 2022, as most of us with uteruses know, the United States Supreme Court abolished federal protections for abortions that were previously protected under Roe v. Wade which came into effect almost 50 years ago on January 22, 1973. Since (formerly) being in place, not only cisgender women, and people of other gender identities with uteruses, have had the federal right and protection to get an abortion dependent on state laws for certain gestational periods of pregnancy. However, since it has now been overturned, abortion laws are up to each individual state. Prior to Roe v. Wade being recently dismantled, many states had “trigger” laws, which, according to Wikipedia’s definition, is a “nickname for a law that is unenforceable but may achieve enforceability if a key change in circumstances occurs.”
Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of becoming a mother, and hopefully having the ability someday to carry at least one of my own children someday if my health issues allow me. I felt comfortable until recently, to know that if goodness forbid, I would need to terminate my pregnancy for any reason (not that I would want to unless absolutely necessary), including for my health and well-being, my rights to that abortion were protected and basically guaranteed in my state of Pennsylvania.
At the moment, abortion rights are still protected under Pennsylvania law, but our future as Pennsylvanians is hazy as we are expecting a new governor come election time, and each candidate has very different opinions on abortion. If we consider just Democratic and Republican candidates, our democratic candidate, Josh Shapiro, is pro-abortion rights, and our republican candidate, Doug Mastriano, has proven his views to be highly against upholding abortion rights for Pennsylvanians.
Speaking more about my personal health, I had always thought for a long time that I would be able to not be considered a high-risk pregnancy, albeit I was diagnosed with PCOS, (a condition which causes cysts on the ovaries as well as hormonal issues and oftentimes infertility in those who have it), at age 14. I had experienced heavy and extremely painful menstruation since starting to menstruate around age 10. I remember being at a gynecologist appointment with my mother, maybe around the age of 16, and having a more in-depth discussion with my former OBGYN and my mother (who I am so incredibly close with to this day as she is not only my mother, but my best friend and full-time caretaker) asking if I would be able to have children someday and my doctor had replied that it was more than likely.
However, as time passed and my other health issues (like my overgrowth syndrome that affects my leg continuing to grow as overgrowth syndromes typically do, etc.) continued to make themselves more well known, I started to gain an immense amount of doubt about my possibility of becoming a biological mother carrying my own child. Flash forward to now as a 26-year-old woman. I would have no problem when the time is right to have children with options such as surrogacy or adoption, but I still cling to the hope of being able to at least try and carry my own child.
Those hopes were somewhat crushed when I heard that our Supreme Court had abolished federal protections for abortion by dismantling Roe v. Wade. The day that it happened, I had a major news network channel on television broadcasting a talk show, and it suddenly went to a breaking news segment: Roe v. Wade no longer existed in 2022 America. I grabbed my phone (as my boyfriend lives in England and I wanted to show him what was going on) to record the television while half-screaming expletives in disbelief. At that moment I knew things were going to change across the nation and not for the better for people with uteruses.
Since the ruling happened, I’ve really begun to ponder my future, which has been accompanied by some tears that weren’t all based on the chronic pain I feel. I asked myself a lot of questions, played out scenarios in my head, and the list goes on. In truth, I cannot deny that this whole ordeal scares me for many reasons. It scares me for the countless people this decision will affect, especially minority communities (as minorities of different types are statistically and historically most likely to be affected) like people of color, those with disabilities and health issues, LGBTQ+ individuals. I identify as pansexual and queer (although in a “heterosexual presenting” relationship) and am disabled.
As stated previously, ideally I would like to carry at least one of my own children. Whatever happens after that is left to some semblance of fate. But what happens if I get pregnant someday? If I do, goodness forbids I need to terminate my pregnancy for some reason and my state changes its course on abortion rights protocols. This is why voting is integral as well as protesting and speaking our minds to fight for our rights. We as Americans need to make sure to do our research before it is time to vote for new persons in office and make sure they will fight for our right to abortion and other basic human rights, we need to show our governing body that we will have voices heard.
I am very much for the sentiment of “my body, my choice” as I couldn’t even imagine telling someone else what to do with their body and their health because of my personal views. People like me, and anyone really, should not be denied the choice when it comes to abortion, because abortion is truly not an easy choice to make regardless of the reasoning. I should be allowed to try and carry my own child, and if I need to terminate that pregnancy for my health and well-being, it should be thus. My fingers are crossed for the best, and you can be assured that I will be voting come November.
On a final note, I would like to add this: people in America with uteruses, and those without who stand for abortion rights…I see you, and I stand with you. Together there isn’t anything we can’t do. We will prevail.
Getty image by Srdjanns74