Cheryl Janey, of Sheboygan, told her personal story of a miscarriage earlier in her life during a rally in early December. Photo courtesy Gary C. Klein/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Today, Cheryl Janey’s two children are grown and she’s happily retired.
But she has a story to tell from her younger days that comes with pangs of emotion. It’s a story she doesn’t want other women to ever have to go through.
Cheryl’s story comes from an earlier time in her life—she was in her twenties and happily pregnant. Now 66, the Sheboygan native said it was about this time 40 years ago that her bliss quickly turned to anger and resentment.
The young wife was at a Christmas party and not feeling well. Pregnant for the third time, she and her husband were overjoyed— but they couldn’t shake the memory of a previous miscarriage.
At the party, Cheryl began having some cramping, and she went home. Then, she went to her doctor. On that visit, she learned her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. She was sent to a specialist who, Cheryl said, “wrote off the lack of movement” and told her to get some rest.
“That was 12 days of hell for me because I was bleeding, I was cramping,” Cheryl said. “I had seen that baby do flips inside me and heard the heartbeat, and there was nothing.”
She felt devastated that her care providers weren’t offering her what she knew she needed—an abortion, which would speed up a tragic and painful process that she’d already been through before.
“You can’t tell me that after [losing the baby’s heartbeat] that I should have had to wait for it to happen naturally. That was just very unfair.”
The pain increased and Cheryl was eventually admitted to the hospital. “They stick me in the maternity ward,” Cheryl said. “Great place to put a woman who’s going to lose a baby.”
As a patient in the hospital, Cheryl miscarried then underwent a surgical procedure to clear the uterine lining.
Wisconsin’s latest ruling
Cheryl is relieved that a Wisconsin judge recently reaffirmed her own ruling from earlier this year, wherein state law permits consensual medical abortions—handing abortion rights advocates a massive victory.
Cheryl isn’t shy to say that an abortion early on in her pregnancy could’ve saved her “trauma, pain, and suffering when she miscarried.”
Upon hearing the ruling, Michelle Velasquez, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Chief Strategy Officer, said she was “very, very happy,” and encouraged more women to share stories like Cheryl’s.
“I’m grateful when people share their story. These are private and sometimes painful. To an advocate, it’s just amazing to me.”
Michelle said the Dec. 6 ruling from Dane County Circuit Court Judge Diane Schlipper is a step in the right direction for reproductive care. “Her ruling was just consistent with her prior decisions and orders in the case indicating that Wisconsin Statute 940.04 does not prohibit abortions.”
The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court’s landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, in June 2022 reactivated an 1849 Wisconsin law that conservatives interpreted as banning abortion.
Michelle said providers and healthcare facilities across the state can now treat patients with full reproductive care, which includes abortions.
“It’s absolutely imperative to have a full scope of reproductive health care accessible to patients statewide,” she said.
Planned Parenthood plans
Back in Sheboygan, where Cheryl Janey still lives, the fight continues. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanksi is already planning to appeal the Schlipper’s decision.
And Michelle Velasquez plans to continue her fight as well. “We’ll be monitoring every appeal and what that means,” she said.
The Planned Parenthood organization is now working to resume abortions services at their Sheboygan site. Those services resumed at the Milwaukee and Madison clinics in July.
“It is really essential that that center be open, and when there are restrictions and bans in place, it’s really rural communities, with people of color, women of color that suffer the most,” Michelle said.
“We’ll work toward protecting and expanding abortion care in Wisconsin in the long term.”
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