Twelve years ago, Christine Morse had a life-or-death decision to make.
It was 2011 when Morse, now a state representative from Kalamazoo County, had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. A few days after receiving the diagnosis, the then-37-year-old also learned she was pregnant.
Her doctors said Morse’s most effective cancer treatment option would be Herceptin, a chemotherapy drug. Without it, Morse’s type of cancer, HER2-positive breast cancer, had a three-year survival rate, she said. But the drug is incompatible with pregnancy, meaning her doctors could not prescribe it while she was pregnant.
Morse had to make a decision: Continue with the pregnancy, or treat the cancer. She chose to undergo an abortion eight weeks into her pregnancy. It is a decision that saved her life, she said.
The state lawmaker spoke with MLive Tuesday, May 3, after news of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion that says the court will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Once official, the ruling to overturn the landmark decision would leave the legalization of abortion up to individual states, and would have an immediate impact restricting access to abortion for many nationwide.
Related: Abortion could be illegal soon in Michigan: What to know about Roe v. Wade fallout
“(The tumor) was the size of a plum, growing, it felt like, every day,” Morse told MLive. “I had three living kids already. For me, it was, I wanted to live.”
Morse is unsure if she or the unborn baby could have lived through the pregnancy. Her doctors later found out through testing that Morse had a partial molar pregnancy, a dangerous condition that can be cancerous in and of itself.
Morse believes women should be able to choose what is best for their safety, whether that be continuing a pregnancy or opting for an abortion.
“Just imagine for a moment if abortion was illegal,” she said. “I’m not allowed to have an abortion, so my cancer progresses, and then this potential for life is never going to be a life. So I could have given my life for nothing, because somebody else thought I should not have a choice about what I do with my body.”
Morse, now 49, was angered by the news Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade.
RELATED: Abortion could be illegal soon in Michigan: What to know about Roe v. Wade fallout
Without access to safe, legal abortion, she said, women could put their own lives at risk, in addition to the unborn child’s.
“I believe, and really everyone should believe, that you can only get a healthy baby at the end through a healthy mother,” the Democratic state representative said. “Women are the ones who are here on Earth and we are the only ones that can provide that potential for life. So, at the end of the day, when it’s our body, it should remain our choice.”
Michigan and 26 other states have existing laws or constitutional amendments that ban abortions. Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban would immediately go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
RELATED: 2 things stand in the way of a Michigan abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned
Michigan’s law does allow an exception to the abortion ban if a miscarriage is “necessary to preserve the life of such woman,” the law states. But Morse questioned how the state would determine whether or not a pregnancy were dangerous to a woman.
“In my case, (that exception) wouldn’t have applied because my pregnancy wasn’t treated as an emergency,” she said. “If we pretend that Roe v. Wade didn’t exist, and abortion was illegal, who decides if the mother’s life is actually in danger or not? What’re the standards for that?”
Morse said a ban on abortions would be a “direct threat against women.”
“It feels like my life doesn’t matter,” she said. “It feels like all that we add value is the potential for life, and not the person carrying it, their life.”
In the leaked Supreme Court document, Justice Samuel Alito argued that “a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”
But Morse retorted that the nation’s “history and traditions” were written by men.
“Women weren’t a big part of our nation’s history for a long time in terms of governing,” she said. “We didn’t get the right to vote until 1920. So I think it’s ridiculous that a man in the Supreme Court is making this argument that the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in our history.
“That is an absurd review of history that is so narrow as to wipe out more than half of our nation’s population, that is women. This decision is wrong. It’s going to send our country backwards in so many ways.”
More on MLive:
2 things stand in the way of a Michigan abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned
Roe v. Wade’s likely fate has Michigan Republicans cheering as Democrats prepare for fight
Supreme Court leak ‘feels like a victory’ for Right to Life, while Planned Parenthood vows to fight for abortion rights