(NEW YORK) — Meagan and her husband Jon considered their wedding day, in April 2022, to be the best day of their lives.

A year later, the Wisconsin couple believed they had topped that day when they found out Meagan was pregnant.

Their pregnancy journey had been a challenge. Meagan, who has polycystic ovary syndrome, which can make it difficult to get pregnant, told ABC News she had been taking medication to help with ovulation.

They were so excited at the news that they began preparing a nursery in their home.

“This was my first pregnancy, so there’s a lot of nerves, but I actually wasn’t super anxious because everything seemed to be fine,” Meagan, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy, told ABC News in December.

But at a routine 20-week ultrasound appointment last July, Megan’s physician, Dr. Jordan Crow, said he noticed something was wrong.

“Their baby was extraordinarily small and unusually small in a way that is not just indicative of you have a small baby, but something is very abnormal,” Crow told ABC News in an interview.

More testing revealed that Meagan’s fetus had skeletal dysplasia — a severe, life-limiting anomaly, in which rare genetic disorders result in an abnormal development of a baby’s bones, joints and cartilage.

The couple was devastated.

In addition, Meagan, who had been experiencing some bleeding, was diagnosed with placenta previa, a dangerous pregnancy complication in which the placenta covered her cervix.

“It would be unsafe to have a standard, natural delivery because the baby would go through the placenta and she [Meagan] would bleed out,” Crow said.

“Every day that Meagan stays pregnant with her placenta previa, especially when there is probably not a clear tangible benefit to her pregnancy, that is going to be a riskier day,” Crow said.

In July, when ABC News first interviewed Meagan as part of an in-depth series into life in America after Roe v. Wade was overturned, Wisconsin’s total abortion ban was in effect and the only exception was to save the life of the mother. The ban required three doctors to approve the abortion and agree that it is lifesaving care.

After determining that the pregnancy could put Meagan ‘s life at risk, Crow said he reached out to his colleagues at a hospital in the state to tell them about her case and get approval for an abortion. While he said his colleagues agreed that the situation posed a threat to her, they would not sign off on an abortion procedure.

Crow said that the law set a bar for when abortions are permitted, and physicians are staying far away from the bar so that “no one would dare claim that people even got close to it.”

“People don’t want to touch it because as soon as you had done that investigation potentially for that hospital, that could lead to whole departments, whole hospitals being shut down and that would impact the care of thousands of people. Not just one,” Crow said.

“You look around and the world keeps moving and goes on, and for me, it just feels like it’s stopped,” she said.

Meagan details grief of fetal diagnosis in a video diary

“You look around and the world keeps moving and goes on, and for me, it just feels like it’s stopped,” she said.

So Meagan was faced with the decision to either continue a pregnancy to term — with her life at risk for a fetus with a severe, life-limiting anomaly — or travel out of state to get abortion care. The couple was also mourning the loss of their child, who they had planned for and were excited to meet.

“Anyone who’s dealt with grief, I’m sure has felt that you look around and the world keeps moving and for me it’s just stopped in this in-between time where we’re just waiting. What do you do?” Meagan said in a video diary recording from July.

“I’m pregnant and I look pregnant and I feel pregnant. Just knowing that I’m not gonna be; I’m just not ready to be done. It’s scary,” Meagan said.

Crow and the couple spent days doing research and looking for a place where she could get abortion care out of state.

“Prior to Dobbs, she would have had it in Wisconsin, she would have had it near her support system, but instead she has to cross state lines to be able to do that,” Crow said.

Crow said he started reaching out to organizations that could help Meagan access care. He said he had to be put in touch with several people until he was able to find someone who could provide Megan with abortion care in-network, so that it would be covered by her insurance.

“Which ultimately is no way to provide care to patients,” Crow said. “If someone found out ‘Yeah the way that my doctor found a good doctor for me was going through seven different degrees and texting and calling people after hours just to find me routine care,’ I think that would be deeply unsettling to most people.”

Ultimately, Meagan was able to get an appointment for a termination at a hospital in Minnesota. While it was only an hour drive, Meagan said the trip felt like it was 10 hours long.

Despite Meagan, Jon and Crow working hard to find a facility where her care would be covered by insurance, her insurance declined to cover the procedure itself and her recovery in the hospital. But it did cover other costs of her care, like anesthesia.

While her health insurance provider does cover the procedure, Meagan learned that her company’s plan does not cover it.

The procedure itself cost around $1,500. In total Meagan — who said she had already met her deductible for the year before the procedure — will have to pay just over $3,000 for her care.

“Had nothing been covered and I went there out of network, it would have been like $20,000 for the two-day procedure. I’ve seen the explanation of benefits,” Meagan said.

Meagan was able to get an abortion fund – groups that financially help women pay for abortion care — to cover $1,500 in costs.

‘A huge advocate for me’

Meagan said Crow was with her every step of the way.

“My doctor, Dr. Crow, was a huge advocate for me and my heart goes out to all of you women who didn’t have a doctor like that to fight for you. But I do feel fortunate in that way that I had someone that was able to put their job on the line and risk things to get me the care that I needed,” Meagan told 17 other women who faced similar pregnancy journeys in a group interview with ABC News.

“He called hospitals all over the state of Wisconsin to try and find us care and no one would take my case because there was a total ban,” Meagan said.

She also said that Crow used his contacts in the state to find Meagan care in Minnesota.

Weeks after Meagan traveled to get care, a Wisconsin judge ruled that an 1849 law did not apply to abortion, but only applied to the termination of a pregnancy without the mother’s consent. Two Planned Parenthood Facilities have resumed offering abortions. The lawsuit challenging the ban is expected to head to the state’s Supreme Court for a final ruling.

Meagan said being able to get care at home would have made a huge difference for her.

“It’s such a private thing to go through making a decision like that and opening yourself up for judgment and the more you can get care from your own doctor in your own area and be, you know, in bed in your own house the night before and the night after,” she said.

“It was a very uncomfortable and painful procedure not to be at my own house and my own bed; was horrible. It was the worst night — probably of my life — the night before,” Meagan said.

Meagan said she isn’t sure if she will ever want to try to get pregnant again.

“I just feel completely traumatized by a situation that I just don’t know some days, if I would ever want to try again. Every day is different,” Meagan said.

“I haven’t felt the need to get pregnant right away again after all this. It just seems so fast and too soon. The whole situation was scary and devastating. I don’t know. It just kind of seems like I’ll never be able to have like a blissful, happy pregnancy again now that I’ve gone through this. So, it’s just scary to think about trying again,” Meagan said.

Meagan said she decided to share her story in hopes that the next woman who is in the same position that she was in doesn’t have to travel away from home to get care. She said this has been the “saddest, most terrifying thing I have ever been through.”

“[Abortion] affects a lot more people across a lot more women and families across the country than anybody realizes. I’ve joined a lot of support groups for termination for medical reasons,” she added. “And there’s just so many of us, it seems like people should know more about it and they don’t.”

 

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