This week I embark on a new leg of my fight. Two years ago I lost my first pregnancy after being exposed to tear gas on a work assignment. Apparently, my employer (the University of Washington) didn’t feel it necessary to cover the medical expenses that resulted from this, despite my completing my duties at the expense of my health and my child’s life. In the past, I had never asked for more than the documented medical expenses, for which I had to submit multiple copies to multiple agents and tell my story repeatedly, when all I wanted to do was grieve in private. I am now preparing to take my case to the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. Again, I have a lot in my life I would rather be doing, like working on my thesis, or spending time with my family. Instead, I am researching tort law, insurance policies, and as always, the effects of the misleadingly named chemical weapon “tear gas.”
In preparing my case, I must also challenge the false information out there. The logic of many sources on the subject is that because there is limited information on the dangers of a chemical agent, that must mean it’s safe. The reality is that because it’s unethical to test chemical weapons on pregnant women, you won’t see lab studies on the subject. You’ll see news reports on the rising rates of miscarriages in areas hit by tear gas, but those reports are always secondary to the “real story”; the real stories reduce people killed and injured to nothing more than numbers, and treat governments and corporations as the only ones with anything to lose.
The real story is that this world is fucked, and it won’t change until we do something about it. Even if that something is telling the same story over and over until others take up the call, and force change.
I have told the story of what has happened to me to so many bureaucrats that the dates of what happened to me are forever burned into my head. For example, yesterday was the two year anniversary of the second ultrasound done to confirm my baby no longer had a heartbeat. Tomorrow is the two year anniversary of the day the miscarriage began in earnest. February 21 is the two year anniversary of the D&C for which I had to pay the hospital expenses out of pocket. And February 26 is the day I got on a plane heading home, alone (because my fiance and I couldn’t afford tickets on the same flight), seated behind a couple with their new baby, crying almost the entire way (me and the baby).
I am going to keep repeating these dates and my story, not only for fair recompense, but so that weapons manufacturers can no longer claim safety based on the lack of information. In what world does that logic make sense? Here’s some information: I lost my baby because I was exposed to a chemical weapon. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. It just takes a very stubborn researcher with an aptitude for fighting red tape to prove it to the powers that be.
If you want to join my fight, send an email to banteargas (at) hotmail.com, or leave a comment below with resources for others.