My Choice

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I vividly remember the darkened room, lit by monitors and computer screens; a technician quietly maneuvering the ultrasound transducer over my swollen belly. The pensive silence was interrupted by an army of doctors crowded around the image on the screen. "Bring a picture of a healthy heart to the parents!" shouted the senior doctor. I glanced at my husband and immediately knew. Despair tugged at my soul.

I was 4.5 months pregnant.

I've always been a feminist, brought up by two strong women - my mother and maternal grandmother. I grew up confident that I had the right to opportunity and choice. With a supportive husband, growing family, and a fulfilling career, I thought I was living life on my own terms.

The recent change in political landscape has threatened those beliefs. When President Trump reinstated the "global gag rule" surrounded by white men it seemed to trivialize the often-painful choice a woman has to make about her unborn child.

My husband and I discussed all our options with the doctors that fateful day. "Blue baby", "three chambers", "heart transplant" - phrases that still reverberate through my mind; The feeling of helplessness that I would do anything, just anything to fix my baby's broken heart... and mine. We often portray pro-life vs. pro-choice as black or white. To me, it was a harrowing hue of grays.


I consider myself fortunate to live here. I have access to good healthcare that supports my reproductive decisions. I realize that not many women around the world are fortunate, and recent events are a stark reminder of the ramifications.

As I watch my two living children play in the backyard, I often think of the precious little one in the ultrasound picture now carefully tucked away in my drawer. The decision was never easy and will never be, but at the end, it was still my decision.

With a Perspective, I'm Vidya Setlur.

Vidya Setlur lives in Portola Valley and is a research scientist in Palo Alto.