A couple trying to conceive, an ultrasound technician, and a gay pastor share their experiences with abortion in post-Roe America.
BY ABIGAIL TRACY
NOVEMBER 30, 2023
As Anya Cook sat at the hairdresser, she thought she might die. The night before, her water had broken. But being only about 16 weeks along in her pregnancy—six weeks before a fetus can potentially survive on its own outside the uterus—she’d known something was wrong; her husband, Derick Cook, had rushed her to the emergency room at the Broward Health hospital in Coral Springs, Florida. After a wait of more than 45 minutes in the emergency room—amniotic fluid still seeping from Anya’s body—a doctor had informed her that she would lose the child, but, given Florida’s strict abortion ban, there was nothing they could do. She’d been sent away with antibiotics and told she would have to wait to have her miscarriage alone.
She went to get her hair done the next day. “One thing my grandmother always said, ‘You make yourself look presentable so when they catch you dead, you’re already ready,’” she tells me. It was never the plan to deliver her baby in the bathroom of a hair salon. Anya recalls with vivid detail the sound of her fetus hitting the bowl of the toilet as blood poured out of her, dripping down her legs. After hours of surgery, Anya lost roughly half the blood in her body. The doctors asked Derick whether they should prioritize saving Anya’s life or her uterus. “That was very confusing,” he says. “I just went with the best answer: Save my wife and her uterus.” Since then, Anya has had to undergo a string of surgeries as a result of the complications she suffered.