Between the time her daughter was born and the time most of her reproductive system was surgically removed, Samantha Davis feared getting pregnant again.
“There would not have been an option,” she said. “I would have had to have had an abortion.”
That’s because, as doctors had explained to Davis, her body was no longer capable of fully producing a child.
And had such a potential second pregnancy taken place after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the young mother said she would have had no way to keep herself alive.
“I would have died,” Davis said. “I would have left my child and my husband without a mom and a wife.”
The new baby, doctors tell her, would have died along with her.
“There’s no if, ands or buts,” Davis said. “It honestly would have come down to my life or no life.”
Now, she is organizing a pro-abortion rights rally in her new hometown of Galion on July 24 in hopes of saving as many lives as she possibly can.
The table of the Galion coffee shop was covered this week with paperwork and electronics as Samantha and Nick Davis discussed a life that four years ago the couple never expected would exist.
Four years ago, the two had just met.
Four years ago, neither could imagine moving away from Clintonville.
And four years ago, they had no reason — or moral desire — to actively fight for a woman’s ability to have an abortion.
“We had known each other for two months,” Samantha recalled. “It was a failed condom.”
Neither of them had been planning to have a baby, but the test was positive.
“The first words out of my mouth were: ‘I am not having an abortion,'” Samantha remembers.
Hearing that from his newfound girlfriend had brought relief to the soon-to-be father.
“I honestly decided that if she had an abortion, I would never speak to her again,” Nick admitted. “Abortions are horrible. I don’t think anyone out there really likes abortions.”
They knew their lives would be different after getting married and starting a family, but it wasn’t until their first doctor’s appointment that they realized just how drastically things would change.
The pregnancy immediately began getting difficult for Samantha when she developed severe round ligament pain, which affected the ligaments that were holding her uterus to her body.
“At two months pregnant, I could barely walk,” Samantha said. “So, not long after I found out I was pregnant.”
Then she developed symphysis pubis dysfunction, which she described as “where all the pubic bones and joints come apart way too early in pregnancy.”
Her pubic bone quickly separated more than an inch — her body was preparing for birth several months ahead of schedule.
“I went on full disability at five months,” Samantha said. “I couldn’t even work at five months.
“And then I had hyperemesis, so I was vomiting throughout the entire pregnancy.”
She became a regular at both physical therapy and the labor and delivery department.
Things got worse during week 34 when Samantha began having major contractions.
Nurses noticed she was not yet dilated. Her blood pressure was elevated, and rising.
“Two hours later, they were like, ‘Oh, we need to admit you,'” Nick said.
It was July 2, 2019, and it would be another 84½ hours until their daughter was born.
“I was contracting the whole time,” Samantha said. “My blood pressure never came down.”
Doctors finally decided on July 3 to induce labor.
“I went into full on labor for 49½ hours,” Samantha said. “My epidural failed a couple of times.”
Despite being on the verge of giving birth, she was only dilated 4cm, rather than the expected 10cm.
“I am wearing out,” Samantha said. “I am exhausted.”
They decided a caesarian would be needed, so they moved her to an operating table and injected her again. This time, though, she told the doctor there was something wrong, then threw up.
“I blacked out,” Samantha said. “My blood pressure plummeted. My pulse plummeted. My oxygen plummeted.”
The doctors started cutting before Nick even realized what was happening.
“It was considered an emergency,” Samantha said.
The date was July 5, a full three days after the Davis family had arrived at the hospital.
The couple found out later that the baby had only been given a 4% chance of surviving the procedure.
Scarlet Davis wasn’t exactly supposed to be their daughter’s name.
The plan had been to have another month to think it over. Even then, they were going to make a final decision after the baby was born.
But things changed and the baby came early. Lying there delirious, blood all around, Samantha said the name was the first word that popped into her mind: “Scarlet.”
The child was 17 inches, and weighed just 4½ pounds. Fortunately, she was a healthy little girl.
“Scarlet was released before I was,” Samantha said.
The family has made countless trips to the hospital for various health issues over the last three years.
Once Nick realized that another pregnancy could be fatal for his wife, he committed to having a vasectomy.
Scarlet had many checkups the first couple of years, but is now healthy.
And Samantha is still going back to the doctor on a regular basis, three years later.
She had her gallbladder removed soon after giving birth, then was tested for uterine cancer.
There was no cancer, but an endometriosis specialist recommended she have a hysterectomy.
“That’s a really hard thing to face as a woman,” Samantha said, tears welling. “You want to have more kids. You don’t want to face that.”
At the age of 36, Samantha is without her ovaries, without her fallopian tubes, without a uterus, without a cervix and is going through menopause.
Hospital trips over the years have taken them across Ohio. Because of the potential for complications, they often stay in hotel rooms near the hospital afterward in case anything goes wrong.
“We’ve racked up quite a bit of credit card debt,” Nick said.
They realized this spring that the best option for paying off their nearly $40,000 in bills would be to sell their beloved Clintonville home and move somewhere a little less expensive.
After weeks of keeping an eye on listings, they finally found the perfect place in Galion, 52 miles north of Clintonville.
They closed on their new home in early July, and are still moving in. They have yet to finalize the sale of their Clintonville home.
Amid her health care appointments and moving to a new home, Samantha has been keeping track of how the laws in Ohio are affecting women’s reproductive rights.
Senate Bill 23, also known as the heartbeat bill, took effect hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections on June 24.
The Ohio law, which had been on judicial hold since Gov. Mike DeWine signed it in 2019, banned almost all abortions once fetal cardiac activity can be detected.
An abortion after six weeks could be legal if it prevented “the death of a pregnant woman” or “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” according to a nonpartisan analysis by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
Samantha and Scarlet have protested at the Ohio Statehouse. Although she never had to have an abortion, Samantha says she was close to needing one.
“Morally, it would be very hard for me to have an abortion,” Samantha said. “But I know it’s also not my right to be in someone else’s exam room.”
She wants to make sure any woman who faces a potentially fatal pregnancy has the same health care options that were available to her up until recently.
“If there’s a woman in my position who doesn’t know all of this and hasn’t researched it and they get pregnant and they need to abort the baby, they do not have that right in this state,” Samantha said. “People really need to pay attention to their health history.”
No matter where she called home, she was destined to be making her opinions known this summer.
That’s why she’s holding a pro-abortion rights rally on the public square in Galion 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 24. She notified the city, and has spread the message through social media.
So far, she’s not sure how many people might be joining her, but everyone is welcome.
“I am OK to sit out there by myself with my flag,” Samantha said. “I will talk to anybody. This is health care. This is not anything other than health care. This is quite literally my life, or no life. I will tell you my story and show you my records.”
In a town much more conservative than Columbus, she realizes there might be more people against her than with her, and she’s OK with that.
“If you are willing to have an open conversation, I’m willing to sit there and tell my story because I am the rule, I am not the exception,” she said. “People are not using abortions as birth control. People are using abortions because they have to. It could be for so many countless things, but we have a right to privacy. I shouldn’t have to tell my story in order for another woman to get the healthcare she deserves.”