Performance artist Nicole Stewart, 34, was eager to share the story of her pregnancy on stage at the local theater she founded in Dallas, Texas. Her show - Bun in the Oven - was supposed to be funny, filled with happy stories. It wasn’t, but as the saying goes, the show must go on, so it opened as scheduled in October 2013.
Stewart’s theater, Oral Fixation, is all about telling true life stories; each show is based on a figure of speech. Stewart learned in June that the happy story she planned to present in October would be a story of deeply personal of tragedy and loss instead. And it would be political.
At week 20, Stewart and her husband went for a sonogram, excited to know if they were having a boy or a girl. What they learned instead is that the developing fetus was severely abnormal. Further tests revealed fetal brain development gone so far awry that the baby would soon die. Pregnancy termination was discussed.
Describing it as “the hardest thing I ever dealt with in my whole life,” Stewart and her husband chose abortion at week 22.
Ironically, her first visit to the abortion clinic occurred the same day Senator Wendy Davis delivered an 11-hour filibuster to the Texas Senate that effectively blocked a vote on a bill that would ban abortions in Texas after the 20th week and severely restrict other reproductive rights. The bill was sure to pass if Davis didn’t continue the filibuster until after the deadline for voting. Davis’s speech was broadcast live over radio stations all across Texas and Stewart was tuned in.
Stewart says, “The moment I clicked on that live stream, she was talking about me. She was describing my situation. She was talking about women who go in for their standard 20-week sonogram and find out that the fetus is abnormal.”
Although the vote was blocked that day, it soon passed in a special session and included an exemption in case of “severe fetal abnormality.” Stewart’s concern is that the decision to terminate is now in the hands of the government.
That’s the reason she didn’t cancel the October show. “The main reason I have told my story is that I don’t think a majority of people understand why a woman would want to or need to have an abortion after 20 weeks. That’s really all I care about getting out there — that this is not an irresponsible decision. It’s not a decision against life. It’s a decision that is medically driven and really should be between a doctor, her patient and the husband — period.”
Stewart’s not a political person but “what I can do is tell the truth about what’s happening in my life. That’s why I told my story.”