CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- A Conroe woman who suffered a miscarriage says the state's restrictive abortion laws forced her into a dangerous health situation.
Marlena Stell always wanted a big family. She was overjoyed when she and her husband got pregnant with their second child last summer.
Then came her nine-and-a-half week ultrasound.
"As soon as she paused - and it was silent for a minute - I knew right away," Stell said. "As I was lying there on the table, it was just mental and emotional trauma (that) I just did not think would happen."
Stell had miscarried.
She asked her doctor for a dilation and curettage, otherwise known as a D&C, which is a common procedure to remove the fetus after a miscarriage to prevent infection.
"I had a miscarriage in 2018 before I had my daughter in 2020, and I was not able to expel. It was an awful experience with that miscarriage in that I had severe pain, but I was not expelling anything," Stell said.
But by then, it was early September, and the state had just banned abortion for pregnancies after about six weeks.
Stell said she was first required to get a second ultrasound. Then, she said every doctor she called in the Houston area refused to give her the procedure, citing confusing abortion bans.
"You feel like a walking coffin. You're just walking around knowing that you're carrying a loss," she explained. "It felt like I was jumping through so many hoops just to get care for something that had already happened. I already had lost the baby."
She thought about going to another state.
"Do I drive somewhere? We were going through all these options, and my first thought was, 'Yes, I can get on a plane,' but it's so many hours to get back home," she said. "What if something happens on the plane and I start miscarrying on a plane and I'm stuck in the air?"
Stell said she carried the unviable fetus for two weeks before ultimately going to an abortion clinic for a D&C procedure.
That clinic stopped offering procedures after Roe v. Wade was overturned and is now closing.
"That's the story that a lot of people don't realize. That it's not just affecting those that aren't ready to be moms," she said. "It's people like me who want children, but need care. Because I cannot expel a miscarriage. It's just as simple as that. If there is medical intervention available, why do I have to fight to get it?"
The experience has also changed her family's focus.
"I decided that I just don't want to get pregnant anymore, because I don't feel that it would be safe for me. And at the end of the day, I don't want to risk my health for a daughter that I do have that needs her mom," she said.