Erica Goldblatt Hyatt, Assistant Teaching Professor and Assistant Director of the DSW Program at Rutgers School of Social Work, has joined countless others in the #YouKnowMe movement, sharing her abortion story and advocating for women’s right to choose.
Earlier this month, Goldblatt Hyatt shared her full story with CNN, explaining that she got an abortion after learning her son had a rare condition and would likely not make it to term. It was her first baby.
Her son was diagnosed with Congenital High Airway Obstruction Syndrome because his trachea did not form. He also had Trisomy 16, a chromosomal abnormality which often leads to miscarriage. Doctors told Goldblatt Hyatt and her husband that their son would either die of heart failure in the womb or be born brain dead. Given the grave prognosis, the couple decided to end the pregnancy.
Goldblatt Hyatt chose to tell her story because she believes it’s a reflection of the values she holds so strongly as a social worker. She says, “For me, the issue centers around autonomy and choice, and valuing women’s voices as well as trusting them to make decisions on behalf of themselves and their families. Social work as a profession seeks to empower individuals to do this, too.”
“My concern is especially for women of color in this country who are subjected to higher mortality rates in pregnancy and postpartum, as well as women of low income who, should abortion bans continue, will not have the means to access safe abortions out of state,” she continues. “So many women are stigmatized and afraid to speak up so, as a woman with privilege and dedication to empowering and supporting those of different backgrounds, I feel responsible to advocate for safe reproductive healthcare. It’s also one of the ways I find meaning in the journey I walked with my son.”
In addition to her advocacy work, Goldblatt Hyatt was recently named a faculty fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis (RCHA)’s Life and Death project for the 2019-2020 academic year. According to the project website, the seminar unites interdisciplinary faculty and researchers to explore “what it means to be alive or dead. It will consider the legal, social, political, religious, and ethical ramifications of medical and scientific developments as they relate to the creation of life and the end of it.”
Goldblatt Hyatt proposes a qualitative exploration of maternal-fetal medicine specialists (MFMs) and later abortion patients to understand how the diagnosis of fetal anomaly after 24 weeks’ gestation, also known as the age of viability, influences whether providers are likely to recommend abortion. The implications of these findings on the field of reproductive health, rights, and social justice can inform policy and practice with women and their families.