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Welcome to Better Sex With Dr. Lexx, a monthly column where sex therapist, educator and consultant Dr. Lexx Brown-James shares expertise, advice and wisdom about sex, relationships and more. Approaching education about sex as a life-long endeavor — “from womb to tomb” — Dr. Lexx (AKA The #CouplesClinician) is your guide to the shame-free, medically accurate, inclusive and comprehensive conversations for you, your partner and your whole family. 

“Happy Mother’s Day!” is not a phrase I get to share with my friend Melissa, who recently lost a pregnancy and almost died in the process.

When Melissa found out she was pregnant, there was rejoicing all around. She and her husband, too much ibuprofen 2 year old Stewart, were pleasantly surprised to be pregnant so early on in their family-planning journey. You see, Melissa and Stewart are amazing at being the favorite aunt and uncle and only recently decided they wanted to have children. Melissa is technically geriatric maternal age (any pregnant person 35 years of age and over) and throughout her life meticulously planned her reproductive health to ensure if and when they did want to conceive, they were in charge of the timing.

And, that time was this year. After the peak of a pandemic, during reproductive political uproar, and amidst calls to end racism, Melissa and Stewart created “Squish.” A glimmer of hope at a time that felt just right for them. Sadly, their time with Squish was short. The first appointment ultrasound showed that Squish didn’t have a heartbeat. And at 8 weeks pregnant Melissa would ultimately miscarry and need a medical abortion.

The issue: Melissa lives in Georgia, one of 42 states that has implemented anti-abortion legislation — which inherently affects miscarriages too. By making abortion is inaccessible, illegal, and extremely difficult to get, the new laws limit and penalize those who are miscarrying too.

Fortunately, Melissa and Stewart are college-educated, knowledgeable and have access to healthcare. Surely, they would be able to access the medical care they needed so they could grieve this loss and decide next steps? With some education from their physician, Melissa made the informed decision to have a medical abortion using pharmaceuticals that are typically readily available: Misoprostol and Mifepristone, two medications that work in tandem to cause what is typically described as a ‘natural’ miscarriage. The idea of using pills was appealing to Melissa because it would not require a surgical procedure and instead, she could plan around this loss.

She had time to go home, get cozy, wear her comfortable pajamas, with her husband by her side binge-watching TV in solitude as her body would expel the lifeless cells they lovingly called Squish.

And yet, as beautiful and comforting as this could be, it wasn’t Melissa and Stewart’s journey. With 12 states having a near-total ban on abortion and 15 states restricting access to medication abortion — specifically access to mifepristone after 8 weeks (like GA), Melissa was unable to have the full round of medication that is the medical best practice to facilitate a medical abortion. And, she paid for it.

Related story

There Is No ‘Wrong Way’ to Grieve a Pregnancy Loss or Stillbirth