I became aware of the term moral injury sometime in the weeks after leaving the hospital where I had terminated a welcomed pregnancy. Unlike other women who face the heartache of having a fetus die in utero or an abnormality that would eventually cause their born child great suffering or worse, death, mine was “Absolutely, perfectly healthy,” as the medical tech performing a mandated ultrasound announced days before the procedure with a smile on her face. She wasn’t being cruel; she was simply ignorant—ignorant of the fact that the heartbeat, then swishing and pounding in the background through the machine’s speaker, would be the death of me.

Twelve months earlier I had two very rare heart attacks in the space of one week, the latter of which nearly took my life. From cardiologist to geneticist to OB/GYN to alternative medicine docs, the only thing everyone could agree on, in terms of my prognosis, was that carrying a pregnancy to term would be almost certainly “life-changing, life-ending,” because the condition that caused my heart attacks (Spontaneous Coronary Arterial Dissection or SCAD) is linked to hormones and/or pregnancy. The fact that I was not pregnant when it happened made the chances of it happening again if I was, as one physician said, “astronomically high.”

I can imagine fewer things more agonizing than literally carrying death. But carrying a living fetus that you know can’t reach its potential because of your so-called “choice” bears a similarly excruciating burden, only in this case it is grounded in immeasurable guilt and shame. And mine was no exception. Everything pointed to the heartbreaking reality that the child within me was fated from the start. She couldn’t live without me, nor could she live with me. And I couldn’t live with her, to my deep regret. But I could live alone. And so, I did.

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