There is nothing more deafeningly silent than the ultrasound room when the technician knows something is seriously wrong.

This was my third pregnancy. My first pregnancy had given me my amazing daughter. My second pregnancy had ended in an early miscarriage a few months earlier. This time, my husband and I anxiously counted the weeks, too afraid to spill the news to our families until we made it through the first trimester. As we neared 12 weeks, we began making plans for our second child. We bought our daughter a book about becoming a big sister.

Then, at a routine ultrasound, we received news we never expected. Our baby had a rare and lethal anomaly that was incompatible with life.

The doctor said I would never make it to term, and that continuing the pregnancy could put my health at risk. He told us we’d receive the best care no matter what we decided, but our decision would not change the outcome: our baby would not survive.

The choice was both excruciatingly hard and heart-breakingly easy. I knew, emotionally, that I couldn’t continue the pregnancy wondering if today would be the day it would end, or worrying that a complication would put me in the hospital. My toddler needed her mother, healthy and whole. I did not want to risk my future fertility to continue a nonviable pregnancy. And my sick baby — the baby we so desperately wanted — deserved peace.

I ended my pregnancy at 13 weeks. A month later, while still grieving the loss, we received a letter from our insurance company stating our elective abortion would not be covered. Our insurance won’t cover abortion except in the narrowest of circumstances. Fetal anomalies and risks to the mother’s health are compelling enough reasons.

The bill we received was more than $6,000.

Imagine being in a room with your doctor, making a personal and complex decision about your health care and having a group of strangers walk in to make the decision for you. That’s what receiving that letter felt like. It felt like a judgment and a punishment.

Appealing the insurance company’s denial was incredibly painful. I had to explain what happened over and over to a new voice on the other end of the line, while knowing strangers in an insurance office were ignoring the risks my doctor conveyed, as if things like infection, uterine scarring and infertility are trivial. I felt as if my life and my health had no value. It was infuriating; it was dehumanizing; and it was cruel.

It was also unnecessary.

Abortion is health care. It was every bit as vital a health care service as my fertility treatments, my C-section to deliver my first baby, the tests and appointments following my miscarriage, and the delivery of my second child.

Thanks to my privilege, I was able to access the care I needed. But for many women whose insurance doesn’t include abortion coverage, their struggle is far greater than mine.

Everyone, no matter their source of insurance, deserves to have abortion covered, as any other medical procedure would be.

The Legislature is currently considering a bill, LD 820, requiring insurance companies that cover prenatal care also cover abortion care.

I have two daughters now; they are strong and curious and kind and they will do amazing things in this world. The thought of them growing up and being forced to put their well-being, their health or even their lives at risk because an abortion was out of reach for them — that is what brings me to share such a deeply personal experience in such a public way.

I urge elected officials to support this bill — for women like me, for all Maine women and for my daughters. We all deserve to be treated like we matter.

Mindy Woerter is a communications professional and stay-at-home mom. She lives with her family in Durham.

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