Former Miss South Carolina Jill Hartle was forced to carry a non-viable fetus for 7 weeks, and now she’s telling her story in hopes of spreading awareness of the trauma she endured.
When Roe v. Wade overturned in June, Jill and her hubby Matt Hartle were 14 weeks into the pregnancy of their daughter, Ivy Grace. The couple were furious with the Supreme Court‘s decision — like everyone with basic empathy was and still is — but little did they know the overturning would affect them directly. The pageant queen told People on Friday even though she was raised conservative and aligns herself mostly with the Republican party — she is firmly pro-choice:
“My husband walks out of the room and he is beet-red furious. We said to each other, ‘We cannot believe this is happening’ — thinking of our daughter and her future. I was raised in a very conservative family and have always considered myself aligned with the Republican party, but I have always been pro-choice. We do come from a conservative Christian background, but we also come from a place of empathy and compassion and non-judgment.”
At the couple’s 8-week scan everything looked great — but sadly around 12 weeks is when they found out their unborn daughter was suffering from a developmental complication:
“The doctor said, ‘Her heart is not what we want it to look like,’ ” the hair salon owner recalls. “I said, ‘My best friend had a child with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.’ And she said, ‘That’s what we’re looking at’.”
In case you’re not familiar, HLHS is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow to the heart. The fetus was non-viable — their baby would most likely never survive outside of the womb and if so, the suffering and surgeries the family would have to go through would be unbearable. And neither Hartle wanted that:
“We decided that the best thing for our particular case and our particular daughter, Ivy Grace, was to just give her the most peaceful possible way to heaven and to be healed and to be free and never feel a moment’s pain.”
But due to Roe v. Wade, one month earlier South Carolina’s laws banned abortion after 6 weeks — with some exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother — but none for birth defects. The couple were immediately sent to the Medical University of South Carolina Health‘s University Medical Center who advised them to wait another month to see the severity of the condition. They agreed, but sadly they only got worse news after the tests.
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An amniocentesis and echocardiogram confirmed their baby’s case of HLHS was severe — and they also found an additional complication of an aortic atresia. And with what Jill told the outlet — none of the options they were given were very humane:
“The doctors just kept talking about the surgeries. They basically explained that every child with HLHS — no matter if it’s the least severe case or the most severe case — will have to have three open heart surgeries at a very young age. The first open heart surgery happens the first week of life. The second open heart surgery happens at six months old. And then there’s a third open heart surgery, and eventually, a wait for a transplant. And if they’re lucky enough to get a heart and if their body accepts it, then every 10 years after that, they’re back on the heart transplant list because hearts only last 10 to 15 years. So even best case scenario was still a very grim outlook.”
Just awful — no infant should have to suffer like that and no parent should have to see their child go through it.
Luckily the spouses had a supportive family who helped them navigate what to do next — but they did note no one at the hospital was of any help:
“It was almost like, ‘You have to schedule all this. You have to go and figure it all out’.”
The former pageant contestant was experiencing heartbreak like no other, too, because she couldn’t truly move on until it was over:
“Every time I felt her move was like a dagger to the heart. And the mental toll: I was grieving the loss of my child while still carrying her and also waiting to be taken care of so that I could start the healing process.”
Just gut-wrenching. If this type of healthcare was more accessible, women like Jill wouldn’t have to go through such mental anguish! Democrats have been saying this for decades.
At 25 weeks gestation, though, she was able to get the procedure. Which wasn’t an easy task because she had to go all the way to Washington D.C. and come back home right after:
“I had to get on a plane after giving birth, having full-on contractions because my uterus was shrinking. The most excruciating thing I’ve ever done has been getting on an airplane to travel home the day after I delivered. All of these things are logistically insane.”
Miss South Carolina said the place she went to originally had a 2 week wait — but now it has an 8 week wait! More women are needing these procedures (and before they reach a certain gestational period) and they can’t get them in time.
Because of this distressing truth, Jill and Matt started the Ivy Grace Project to bring awareness to cases such as these:
“All you hear about in this conversation is rape, incest, protection of a mother’s health if they’re at risk. Well, there’s no talk about fetal anomalies. No one even knows what a fetal anomaly is unless you’ve known someone who’s had one and or have heard a testimony from a woman who’s had one. But, I want to be clear: There are a lot of people walking this earth with HLHS. There are a lot of mamas out there who have kids with HLHS. And I do not want to alienate them in any way. Those children, their stories are supposed to be written, they’re supposed to be where they are. And that is their story. This just happens to be my experience and my story.”
If you want to learn more about the cause you can click here .
Thoughts, Perezcious readers?
[Image via Instagram/jillperryhairstudio]