Beth and Kyle Long were so excited. After four years of trying to have a baby, through multiple rounds of expensive and difficult fertility treatments, Beth was finally pregnant.
The implanted fetus had a heartbeat seven weeks in. “We’d spent years working on this, thousands of miles, thousands of dollars trying to get here, and it finally felt like it was worth it,” said Kyle in this gutting CNN story. Things still looked good at week 16, and the Ohio couple shared the happy news with their family at Christmas.
But things took a cataclysmic turn after the new year, when blood work suggested that all was not well. Further tests discovered that their baby had limb body wall complex, a rare condition in which the baby’s organs had developed outside of the body. “They will die. There’s no way there will be a life,” a doctor told CNN of the condition.
A personal note: I have two amazing children. I am blessed beyond belief. But my ex-wife had two miscarriages as we built our family. They were among the worst moments of my life, and neither fetus had made it this far. The Longs even named their girl Cordelia Poppy Star Long. Star was her nickname because that’s what the implanted fertilized egg looked like, along with Corn Pop “because it was cute,” CNN reports that Kyle wrote in his journal.
With the couple resigned to their fate, “Kyle called a local funeral home to arrange for Star’s cremation while Beth knit and crocheted tiny dresses for Star,” reported CNN.
Compounding the devastating news, Beth was now at risk. “[The doctor] explains to us that the sooner the pregnancy is ended the better it will be for Beth’s health,” Kyle wrote in his journal, according to CNN. “The longer the baby grows with these abnormalities, it will continue to have a worse and worse impact on Beth’s health.”
The pregnancy had to be terminated, but then they got hit with the next terrible news—because of Ohio’s regressive state laws, Beth’s insurance as a state employee was banned from covering the abortion. While the law allowed it when the mother’s life was endangered, the language was vague, and doctors seemingly weren’t willing to risk running afoul of the law.
CNN reported, “In his journal, Kyle wrote that the doctors gave them four options: One, pay the $20,000 to $30,000 and have the abortion right away in Ohio with the specialist their obstetrician had selected; two, wait until the baby died inside Beth, and then insurance would cover the abortion; three, wait until Beth’s life was at sufficient risk that the insurance would cover it; or four, find someplace else where they could do the procedure for less money.” Given Beth’s health concerns, Kyle wanted to pay for the abortion immediately, but Beth wanted to set aside their limited savings to implant two additional embryos they had available. She wasn’t ready to surrender her dreams of a family. “It was horrifying because we were experiencing the hardest pain that anybody could have, and on top of that, of our grieving, we’re having to handle all of this ourselves and coordinate all of this ourselves,” Kyle told CNN.
Kyle is a lifelong Republican. Yet when it came time to seek help, it wasn’t his tribe that lent a hand. It was Planned Parenthood that stepped up. A case worker connected them to a hospital in Pittsburgh that would do the procedure for $2,500. Planned Parenthood contributed $500 for their hotel, and the Abortion Fund of Ohio contributed $1,800 toward the cost of the procedure. As they waited for the bureaucracy to transfer records and appointments to be made, they listened to their baby’s heartbeat with a fetal Doppler. “I love her,” Beth wrote on Instagram, posting the video of the heartbeat. “And I refuse to let her suffer or be in pain for even a moment when she’s on the outside of me. Abortion is the most loving thing I can do for her as her mother, even if it shatters my heart.”
Because the process was dragged out—five weeks at this point— the procedure became more complex. “I felt myself tearing up,” a doula who specializes in helping grieving patients told CNN. The Longs had made “the worst decision anyone ever has to make, and then to deal with all the other logistics they had to deal with was just ridiculous.” She added that the Longs were “hanging by a thread” after the abortion, still facing a three-hour drive back home to Columbus.
Now, Kyle has written letters to both Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Sen. J.D. Vance, both of them Republicans, begging them to do something about it. “I am a lifelong Republican, but this has turned me into a one-issue voter for those that support reproductive rights,” he wrote. “I’m writing you to please reconsider how you approach reproductive rights going forward. There are a lot of unintended consequences for families from these laws, and while I can understand you come from a good place, care should ultimately be left to the parents and their physicians. We loved our baby girl and would have done anything to keep her.” He added that these regressive anti-abortion laws “prevent grieving parents from the healthcare they need.”
They never responded, of course.
I wouldn’t wish any of this on my worst enemy, which I guess is what makes me a liberal. I don’t need to be personally affected to have compassion toward those who are less fortunate or are dealing with horrors of their own. I want government to be there for everyone, and if it can’t do that, at least to stay out of the way and not make things worse.
I’m glad Planned Parenthood and the Abortion Fund of Ohio were there for the Longs, even though Kyle has been a lifelong supporter of the party seeking to defund and vilify such organizations. And I’m glad these organizations’ generosity will allow this family to save some of their money for their future children, even though Kyle supported the party that pretends to be about individualism and “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.”
And I’m definitely glad Kyle is a single-issue reproductive rights champion now. Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown can use his vote next year in what will be an incredibly difficult election, and abortion-rights activists can use his newfound zeal and purpose to great effect. It would also be good if his devastating story could spur changes to Ohio’s brutal laws, and help avoid more situations like the one that befell the Longs.
The anti-abortion zealots can’t win this war. They’re already losing in places like Kansas and Kentucky. And it’s clear where this is all headed.
I just wish Kyle didn’t need to be directly impacted to realize how wrong he was. And I hope that so many other conservatives, currently pushing their anti-abortion laws on Americans, won’t have to face what the Longs had to deal with.
What do you do if you're associated with one of the biggest election fraud scandals in recent memory? If you're Republican Mark Harris, you try running for office again! On this week's episode of "The Downballot," we revisit the absolutely wild story of Harris' 2018 campaign for Congress, when one of his consultants orchestrated a conspiracy to illegally collect blank absentee ballots from voters and then had his team fill them out before "casting" them. Officials wound up tossing the results of this almost-stolen election, but now Harris is back with a new bid for the House—and he won't shut up about his last race, even blaming Democrats for the debacle.