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Yoga Rally Stresses Abortion as Health Care
Wild Rye, the owners of The Mill, the founders of Mountain Fit and Sheridan Brett organized a yoga rally benefitting Idahoans United for Women & Families on the second anniversary of the overturn of Roe v Wade.
Friday, June 28, 2024


More than 75 women and a few men spread out across the lawn of Rotary Park earlier this week performing downward facing dog poses and other yoga routines.

It was a demonstration of the fitness and empowerment that yoga provides. But it was also a demonstration acknowledging that abortion is health care.

Desiree Ballis, an educator in the valley, told how she and her husband had tried to conceive for more than two and a half years, even going through fertility treatments.

Desiree Ballis told the heartbreaking story of the trauma inflicted on her family when Idaho’s strict abortion laws forced them to go out of state to seek help for herself and the dying son she was carrying.

They were elated to learn a son was growing inside her belly. But in February, when their son was 21 weeks, Ballis found herself having to flee the state to obtain a medically necessary abortion due to a fatal fetal diagnosis.

“I contracted Parvovirus B19 in my first trimester,” she recounted for the crowd. “Less than 5 percent of women that get Parvovirus in their first trimester experience complications and of those 5 percent less than 1 percent will have fatal complications. We fell within that less than 1 percent. We felt as if we had been struck by lightning. This whole process rocked my world, rocked my family.” 

The Parvovirus caused the couple’s son, Tucker Finn, to be severely anemic as indicated by the middle cerebral artery peak systolic velocity. The velocity in which blood was passing through this artery was more than double the normal rate, indicating his body was working incredibly hard and inadequately to get blood to vital organs.

The severe anemia caused fetal hydrops leading to abnormal amounts of fluid building up in two or more areas of the baby’s body.

Sheriden Britt told how important it is for women to share their story so people better understand how abortion is healthcare.

“Tucker had hydrops in four areas of his body,” said Ballis. “In just 24 hours his condition had rapidly declined and his heart was enlarged. Due to the severity of his anemia, I was at a high risk for developing mirror syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition where the mother's body begins to mirror the edema of the baby and the placenta. We were told to expect to lose Tucker in the hours or days to come.”

Ballis told the group gathered around that she was told that if she returned to Idaho she would not be able to deliver Tucker until her health transitioned from "grim" to "lethal," meaning the mother is guaranteed to die. This often indicates the mother has entered sepsis.

“We were told I would have to be on my deathbed before a doctor could perform a dilation and evacuation. And, even then due to the current abortion laws, it could be very difficult. We were highly encouraged to stay close to a medical facility that could provide the care I needed.”

Because the couple have Idaho-based insurance, the procedure was not covered and could not be performed in a hospital where Ballis could have been put under anesthesia.

The money raised during the yoga rally will go to an organization attempting to restore access to reproductive health care in Idaho.

“We were told we would have had to pay out of pocket, a minimum of $25,000 to $30,000. Instead, I was sedated but fully awake," Ballis said.

Since the couple doesn’t have family in Idaho, they had to fly Morgan’s father from Arizona to stay with the couple two children. Additionally, they incurred thousands of dollars in costs due to unplanned travel, food, lodging, medical expenses and gas.

“Our kids endured trauma having to leave them so unexpectedly for a week,” Ballis said. “Time off of work for both of us. After delivery, our son sat in a lab in Salt Lake City for over a month, and it cost  hundreds of dollars to have his body shipped to Hailey for cremation. Our kids never got the chance to hold Tucker. We were robbed of time and the basic right to healthcare. The lack of therapists with availability in our valley is a real concern. I contacted between eight and 11 people before Dr. (Julie) Lyons supported me in getting an appointment with a provider she knew. The list just goes on.” 

Desiree’s husband Morgan Ballis, a Hailey patrol officer, said he would have liked to have seen more men in the audience: “Men created this issue and it’s going to take men to fix it.”

Cassie Abel told the women that she and others hope to offer additional events to bring awareness to the issue.

Morgan said he used to have trouble even saying the word abortion.

“I was so ignorant about what I thought about abortion, about what I thought about people who get abortions,” he told the crowd. “Abortion IS healthcare.”

Morgan said that his Christian faith helped him work through the trauma of losing his son and the trauma he went through as they sought the best way to ensure Desiree didn’t lose her life.

“We need men to speak up, too,” he said. “It’s hard to be there for your loved one and not know how to grieve yourself. “We can’t be there to support our loved ones if we don’t support ourself.”

State Rep. Ned Burns, of Bellevue, lamented that six longtime Republican moderates in the Idaho legislature had been beat in the primary by politicians pushing more extreme views. He warned that legislators are likely to push bills prohibiting contraceptives.

“Anything that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting will be illegal by next July,” he said, adding that he anticipates legislators will try to prohibit leaving the state for an abortion, as well.

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