CT mom who chose to keep baby at 16 is furious that Roe could be overturned: ‘We’re going backwards’

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

SHERMAN — When Kristen Vogt got pregnant at the age of 16, she said she was fortunate.

“I was lucky I had the support system that allowed me to continue to thrive. I had a mom who supported me and I was able to get through high school. I was never on my own,” said Vogt, a Sherman resident who is now 39.

Yet, when she read about the possibility of the overturn of Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States, it hit “like a ton of bricks,” she said.

It took her back in time more than two decades — to when she was pregnant while in her junior year at New Milford High School.

“I left high school halfway through my junior year. I would work during the day,” said Vogt, who grew up in New Milford. She chose to keep her baby because her mother assured her that she would help and doesn’t regret it.

She took a job as a bank teller at the First National Bank of Litchfield and was given the chance to earn her high school diploma at night through the New Milford Adult Education program.

“My daughter would go to child care at the high school while I went to my classes,” she said. “It took about two years for me to complete the program.”

She said she knew of other girls at the time, however, who got pregnant and did not have it as easy as she did.

“Girls that were in my high school didn't have the same advantages I had, and having a child was just not an option for them,” said Vogt, who is now a mother of five children ages 2 to 22. “Those girls would not have survived — literally. They couldn't afford to.”

Infertility

The impact of Roe v. Wade came up a second time in Vogt’s life when, in her late 20s and early 30s, she and her husband Matt were unable to get pregnant and used in vitro fertilization, or IVF.

“We went through four years of infertility treatments,” she said. “I had done everything under the sun and our first IVF failed.”

On her second IVF attempt, four embryos were able to be transferred.

“As a last ditch effort, my doctor agreed to transfer all four of them,” she said.

Two of the embryos took and Vogt ended up carrying twins.

She said she would have considered using selective reduction — the practice of reducing the number of fetuses in a multiple pregnancy — if her pregnancy was in jeopardy and she was at risk of losing all the fetuses.

“We were grateful that we only had twins because had it been more than twins, it would have put the entire pregnancy at risk,” she said. “We had spent so many years trying — to lose them all is just a heartbreaking thought.”

Access to IVF could be restricted if Roe v. Wade is overturned since the anti-abortion movement has maintained that life begins at conception, experts say.

Vogt, who said she’s “pro-choice,” said to put a woman in the position “where she's left with no choice ... is outrageous. We're going backwards. I don't understand why you would take away basic health care from women.”

She said one never knows another person’s story or struggles unless that person has lived in the other’s shoes.

While in Connecticut, state laws protect women’s right to an abortion, Vogt said if abortion is made illegal in other states in the United States, it could set “a precedent” to become illegal closer to home.

“I'm still speechless,” Vogt said. “I can't believe that in 2022, this is what we're dealing with.”