Thankful for available services

by Melissa (New York)

I had an abortion 12 years ago when I was 16.  I did not feel nervous about the decision then nor did I regret it afterwards.  I am so thankful that abortion services were affordable and available in my area.  I cannot imagine how different my life would be now if I struggled to finish high school or go to college because of a child.  I just had my first child last year because I was ready to do so.  Thank you Roe V. Wade!

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Choose the right provider

by Inside (Chicago)

Ladies, your abortion experience will be much more pleasant if you chose a place where the staff and doctor are caring, compassionate, and understanding of what you’re going through. Women seeking out an abortion are already going through enough emotionally (or so I’d like to think), the last thing they need is for their termination to be a traumatizing experience.

I terminated my pregnancy just yesterday, and I’m still coming to terms with my loss. And I call it a loss because there was a lot of love in my heart for this little pea in a pod. But due to my current circumstances, this child would not be able to receive the love and care that it deserved. Even following through with the pregnancy to later give up the child for adoption wasn’t an option in itself. Terminating my pregnancy was a better choice than bringing a child into the world that I could not take care of, and on the contrary of what many pro-lifers believe, it was a tough decision that I made with a sad and aching heart.

On the same day that I took my pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood, I made my appointment at a clinic for the following week, for my termination. My boyfriend and I spent the rest of that week very sad, very emotional. I had decided on a medical abortion, but after reading up on how much it hurts to pass the clots, I called the clinic back and opted for a sedated surgical termination instead. I tried not to do too much research or look too much into the development of the fetus (I was four weeks along), even though I wanted all the details on what was gonna happen to my little embryo. I spent that whole week crying and in mourning, and the worst part was not being able to tell ANYONE what was going on. Abortion is still a very much taboo topic, and telling someone you terminated your pregnancy isn’t as simple as telling them that you caught a cold. Maybe I’m just more emotional than most, but this is some pretty intense stuff for me.

So yesterday, my boyfriend and I were at the clinic at noon. I remember being calm, finally glad that the big day was here and that it would all be over with soon. The waiting room was full of men, and I waited three long hours to be seen by the counselor. She was super nice and very comforting. One fear that I had was that the staff was gonna condone my decision and try to talk me out of it, but they were super supportive. And they gave me this feeling that what they do isn’t as dreadful as I was thinking. It’s a simple medical procedure, easy as 1-2-3.

I bombarded this counselor with questions. How big or small was the embryo? Would it feel pain? What happens with the remain of the pregnancy? I asked her if I could keep the little embryo in a jar or something, but she said that the remains were sent to a lab for testing, that they just don’t discard it like nothing. That made me feel a whole lot better. I was trusting my little embryo to these people, and I felt like I was in good hands. I felt so good, in fact, that I opted to be awake during the procedure, since I wasn’t gonna hear the machine or all the sucking, and since she described the cramping during the process as “tolerable”.

After speaking with the counselor, I peed in a cup, then went to change into a blue gown-thing. I went to a room with about five other girls (they looked to be no older than eighteen or nineteen), and everybody was very quiet, very afraid. I got called in to take my height and blood pressure, then they sent me to another room for an ultrasound. This was when things turned ugly. I was just waiting on the ultrasound technician, then I suddenly heard a woman next door screaming bloody murder. She even added, “TAKE IT OUT! IT HURTS TOO MUCH!” I was really hoping that wouldn’t be me. Next, twenty minutes went by and still no technician. Then thirty. Then fourty. Finally, a nurse came into the room and apologized for the wait, but there had been a medical emergency with a patient. I felt bad for that screaming lady, she was the first person that I thought about. After a whole hour, the ultrasound technician finally came. Again, she was nice and super friendly. I told her that I didn’t want to see the ultrasound, which she was totally ok with. I then asked her about the cramping while being awake during the procedure, and she said “On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst pain imaginable, it’s about a three.” So I was confident that I could do this.

After the ultrasound, I was sent to the waiting room, where a couple of other women were waiting in their little blue gowns. I don’t remember who started talking first, but I found myself in deep conversation with them. All of us were in steady, committed relationships; we already had two or more kids, we were practicing safe sex, and our method of birth control had failed us, which lead us to sitting together in that waiting room. So, pro-lifers, take note: pro-choice people don’t go around getting abortions at the first chance they get. Many of us are caring, compassionate people that believe that when you’re pro-choice, you can very well choose life. But unfortunately, none of us could choose life that day, mostly due to circumstances beyond our control.

Due to the emergency that I described earlier, the doctor had to escort the patient to another hospital. So we waited three whole hours in that room, and we were getting hungry, antsy, anxious, angry, and impatient. I kept thinking of my boyfriend in the waiting room, wondering just what was going on. After the doc finally came back, he came into the room and apologized for what happened, and said that he was gonna prep up and get everybody started. It was already 7PM.

A nurse called me into the same room where I got my ultrasound, and said that she was gonna put local anesthesia to my cervix. Four little injections, she said, and she said that it wasn’t gonna hurt more than a bee sting. My bloody foot. Those shots hurt so bad. I was at the brink of tears. The nurse was, at the very least, nice and apologetic about it. I limped back to the waiting room, and came to find out that I was having cramps from the shot. Not too bad, but uncomfortable nonetheless.

Half an hour later, I got called in. This nurse introduced herself and asked me to lay down, and since the room was pretty chilly, she put a blanket over me. She must had seen a worried look on my face, because she asked if I was ok. I told her, “I’m just afraid this is really gonna hurt.” She told me that every woman was different, some felt a whole lot of pain while others didn’t feel a thing.” Then I asked, “If I’m feeling much more pain than I can handle, can I ask the doctor to stop and take a break?” She said that I absolutely could, which was comforting.

Then the doctor came and introduced himself, and he asked, “Are you aware that you’re gonna feel cramping during the process?” I asked him how bad exactly, and he said, “More like on the worst day of your menstrual period.” So he prepped me up, said that he was gonna begin, and began. The cramps were pretty tolerable at first, but then I was sent into he worst pain I ever felt, like someone was ripping my insides open. I screamed my head off and the tears were falling down, then the doctor stopped and had the nerve to says, “You need to stop screaming and control yourself. I’m not gonna do this procedure on you if you’re screaming.” I was shaking, crying, in distress, the nurse gave me tissues and some comfort, then I asked to be put to sleep, because the pain was much worse than I had anticipated. The douchebag doctor then said, “So you want to be put to sleep? Did you even pay for that? We’re only gonna put you under after you’ve made your payment.” I couldn’t believe this guy. Here was a patient in agony and distress, and all he could think about was getting paid.

Luckily, the nurse didn’t think twice and fetched the anesthesiologist. As soon as he came in, he said, “I heard your screams, I knew I was gonna have to come in here, so here I am, and I’m gonna take care of you.” Man, what a sweetheart. After he hooked me up to the IV, he wished me luck and walked out. I don’t remember when I fell asleep, but I do remember waking up. I heard someone say next to me, “So you opted to be put to sleep after all.” I looked to the side and saw one of the girls that I’d been talking to in the waiting room. Then the ultrasound technician came and drew this curtain to separate us, then she asked me how I was feeling. I told her how much of a douchebag the doctor was being, and that the nurse in the room was a witness, then she said that she was gonna have me speak to the supervisor. I asked her how long I’d been knocked out for, and she said only five minutes. Felt like five whole hours!

I stayed in bed for another five minutes, then a nurse helped me off the bed and gave me some granny panties with a pad. I sat in the recovery room for a bit, then I talked to the discharge nurse. I told her what had happened with the doctor, and she said that the supervisor was on her way to talk to me. I changed into my clothes, got some antibiotics, and realized that I couldn’t really believe it was all over and that I was no longer pregnant. My uterus did feel much lighter, but it kinda felt like I had forgotten on a psychological level what it’s like to not be pregnant.

I talked to the supervisor, who was appalled and how I had been treated, and guaranteed me that she was gonna speak with the doctor. I walked out of the clinic at 8:30PM. I was so glad that it was all finally over. There was no cramping, and very minimal spotting. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone thinking about a surgical abortion, please opt to be put to sleep. Pain is very easy to underestimate when you’re not going through it yourself. My termination experience would had been a million times better had I been put to sleep to begin with. So make sure you entrust your body and your emotions to nice people who care about what you’re going through. I would go to that same clinic again if given the choice, but I would NOT deal with that doctor again.

As for me, there are no regrets about my decision, but I am heartbroken that such a decision had to be made. I think of that little embryo and wonder what it would had grown into, if it was gonna be a boy or a girl, what hugging him or her would be like, what their voice would had sounded like. I feel like a part of my heart went with my little pea when I sent it back to the Universe, but since I’m a woman of great faith, I believe that little spirit is with God right now.

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We all do it for different reasons, but it is our personal right

by Memphis (Texas)

Abortion saved my life. I have one son and have had two miscarriages and one abortion. I never thought I would have an abortion but I am pro-choice. When I found out I was pregnant in December 2011 it was a shock. See, we had tried for five years after having our son to get pregnant and it finally happened in may 2011 and ended in miscarriage in June. I immediately fell pregnant in July but miscarried in September. I was devastated so I decided 2 go on birth control. Well I got pregnant in December much to my surprise. Pregnant three times within seven months.

I was afraid but determined that this time was it! Well I immediately knew something was off because I got the flu. I couldn’t keep anything down. Not even water. I was always shaking and dizzy but I didn’t know why. I started to lose weight and I became so weak. I was so sick I couldn’t go to work and was so angry because I so miserable. I finally got well from the flu but I still couldn’t eat or drink anything. Nothing worked. I became dehydrated to the point where I didn’t even have saliva and the roof of my mouth was bleeding.

I tried to continue the pregnancy but I was attacked by the flu again. I had a fever and chills and the dehydration was getting worse. My blood pressure plummeted and I couldn’t even hold my head up! All I could do was lay in the bed, curled up n a ball crying.  I finally decided I had to terminate this pregnancy or I may die and not to mention I couldn’t take care of my son or be a good wife. At 9 weeks I made the hardest decision I ever had to.

When I went in to take the Mifeprex my blood pressure was 89/59. They almost refused but I begged for mercy from the misery and they consented.  The next morning at around 8 am I vaginally inserted the Misoprostol and within 45 minutes I could feel my period coming down. It was so fast and almost painless. It was just a dull cramping 4 about 1 1/2 hours and then I passed the pregnancy.

I felt instant relief. I had no nausea or chills or fever like so many of the stories I had read. For the first time in weeks I actually ate a real meal. I didn’t get nauseated, it didn’t come up, and I was able to drink fluids. I felt like a different person. Afterwards, I was sad because it seems like I will never be able to carry another baby to term like I did with my son, but I was happy I had the abortion because it was the right thing to do. I am healthy now and I passed the baby yesterday. No fatigue and no sickness and my blood pressure is back normal. Don’t let anyone make you feel abortion is wrong. We all may do it for different reasons, but it is our personal right. Abortion saved my life and I am thankful that I did it. And yes I’m a Christian and yes I believe in God and I know God understands my story.

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Overcoming the stigma of rape

by Adele (Kansas)

In 2005, when I was 17, my virginity was robbed from me. I have gotten used to the idea that there are two of me: the one before the event, and me after the event. It happened when I was in high school, just months before graduation. I kept it a secret for years, because I felt like I had done something horrible.

Since I had been diagnosed with high functioning autism as an elementary schooler and struggle with social cues, I assumed all of his abuse was my fault. I have a hard time with body language, and he knew that, given that he was my boyfriend for months before the first offense happened. He took advantage of me anyway. The first time it happened, I said, “I’m not interested in sex.” I wanted to wait until I was married. He backed me into a corner, forced me to take some very strong prescription pain pills that pretty much knocked me unconscious, and disrobed me.

He had sex with me in spite of my wishes. The term “rape” was definitely not a word I used often; I don’t think I even knew what it meant at the time. Early the next morning, I drove to the nearest bakery, bought a cup of coffee, and sat in the booth looking out the window and cried. “What in the world just happened?” I thought to myself. I felt so disgusting that I thought everyone could read it on my forehead. All I wanted to do was take a hot bath. I came home and soaked myself in a tub for hours.

The horror continued throughout my last semester of high school. My abuser told everyone that it was something he really wanted to do with me, because he “loved” me. That was what I told everyone else too. I thought it was consensual. I finished my high school education completely oblivious to the fact that a felony had been committed against me. At 17, I just thought that it was unwanted sex. Secretly, I blamed my autism and myself: I thought it was “my fault” because I “wasn’t good socially”. To me, at the time, it wasn’t rape; it was just “bad sex”.

Something similar happened again a few months later when I started college. He kept prodding me for sexual activity. I wasn’t really interested at the time. “I really like you, but maybe later,” I said. It happened anyway. Several weeks later, in January 2006, I found out I was pregnant and my dad and I decided I’d have a medical abortion. This abusive man had sex with me repeatedly for two years before we finally broke up without asking my permission; and because of the intensity of the domestic violence present in our relationship, even psychologically, I could never freely say no. I am pretty sure a piece of me died then. I have spent the last four years trying to rebuild a life for myself.

Shortly after I turned 21 in 2008, a friend referred me to the rape center on my college center. Through the help of the Advocate at the center, I went from saying, “I had sex with him,” and finally learned how to say, “He raped me.” At the time, it was one of the worst things that had ever happened to me.

After therapy for about a year, I volunteered with the center and decided to raise awareness with a college group dedicated to the issue, until I resigned in late March 2010 due to graduation stresses.

Throughout my volunteer time, I realized that I wanted to help women who have experienced date rape (or any other kind of sexual crime, for that matter). In college, I became passionate about spreading awareness about the issues of sexual/domestic violence and abortion. Ultimately, music, my major at the time, became a field of study that I was pursuing only because I was nearly finished with it.

After I graduated college in May 2010, I spent a year in seminary in my hometown. I thought that a seminary degree would help me the most with helping other survivors. I left seminary, and started working as a Volunteer Advocate at a local nonprofit rape crisis center. Through that organization, I now speak publicly about my experience.

When I was in college, this was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Almost 2 years after my last therapy session for the rape, I have turned the bad into something good. Through the rape, I lost my youth, but have gained the ability to live more spiritually, live life to the fullest, and have a deeper compassion for others. I’ve grown into a woman that I am proud to call my friend, autistic disorder or not.

Presently, I am hoping to become a social worker. My career goal today is to work in the area of policy advocacy for an organization that works to prevent sexual and domestic violence and strives to keep abortion legal.

Ultimately, I would like to professionally spread awareness about these issues in various communities and legislative bodies. I want to educate others and reduce stigma that surrounds talking about these serious matters. My experience with rape, abortion, and the role that my advocates and therapists played in my healing made a profound impact on who I am today, and I really like that person. I only hope that one day I can provide as much hope and compassion to others as my advocate and therapists provided me.

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Detailed surgical abortion experience

by Aurelia (Australia)
I’m an Australian 19 year old and I found out I was pregnant three weeks ago. Once by a pregnancy test and then confirmed through a blood test done by the doctor. I’m studying at uni and was in no way ready to be a mother.
I was considering using the medical option of the abortion pill, however I decided to go with a surgical abortion instead.

The actual procedure was very positive for me.

First I booked my appointment and was told not to eat or drink 6 hours before hand.  I was told to bring a change of underwear and a sanitary pad as usually you have a bit of spot bleeding afterwards. Also I wore a two piece outfit, t-shirt and jeans. Dresses and skirts aren’t the best option.

When I arrived at my appointment (my mum came with me) I checked in at the clinic and paid. I was able to claim some of the costs back through my healthcare system however the bed cost of the clinic was 380 dollars.

It was a day procedure and I sat in the waiting room. It was just like a normal GP waiting room. It felt rather normal. The clinic was running late, but finally I was called for my pre-abortion consultation. They asked me basic questions about my sexual past, went over the anesthetic options (they let me choose) and did an ultrasound to confirm how far along I was.

This all took about 20 minutes and the nurse was lovely, kind, non judgmental, and treated me like a person, not like a anonymous girl who was about to have an abortion.

I then went back into the waiting room and waited to be called for the procedure. This took about 10 minutes.

The doctor who would perform the procedure called me up, and took me down the hall, introduced himself (was very kind) and led me into an undressing room. Here he went over the anesthetic, gave me a gown to put on. The standard practice is to leave your bra and t-shirt on, put the hospital gown on over the top. Then I placed all my clothing items in a plastic box and my underwear in a sealed plastic bag. There was a second door that led into the procedure room and there I met the anesthetist and nurse who would also be assisting.

I know people have bad experiences and I feel very lucky to have had such kind, comforting staff during my experience. From this point the doctor asked me to lie on the procedure table (it was basically the same as a dentist bed) but slightly longer and had the leg stirrups at the end.

Immediately they placed the oxygen mask over my face (this doesn’t put you under). The anesthetic was placed into my arm via an IVF (I think thats what it is called) I have never had an anesthetic and it was an odd experience. I was aware for about 2 minutes of what was going on around me, the doctor asked me to bring my legs up onto the end of the bed (not into the stirrups) and they began asking me questions about myself, general stuff about uni, travel etc. The last thing I remember was the nurse telling me to dream of paris, then I went under and almost immediately after that I woke up under a blanket, in the recovery room in an extended lounge/bed chair.

First of all I had a ‘twilight’ anesthetic or what is also known as a low dose of general anesthetic. It meant that I was out of it so to speak however not so much that I was completely unconscious. It did feel like I had blacked out. I do not remember anything. I did not feel anything and it was like I had gone to sleep and woken up almost immediately.

When I was in recovery they told me that I had been walked into recovery, this is standard procedure and something I don’t remember doing. I was still in the gown however they had placed my underwear back on with a sanitary pad.

I immediately ate the biscuits and drank the water that was next to me however I threw up about 10 minutes later into a sick bag. While it is possible this would have happened anyway – I think I also ate far to quickly and drank too much too soon. However I immediately felt so much better.

I did experience some very mild cramping pains however I’ve never really been affected by PMS so this may just be me. After a while I sat up and my clothes were at the end of the bed. There was a nurse checking in on me every few minutes. I must have spent about 30 minutes in the recovery room however I would have been awake for maybe 15 of those.

The nurse checked the spot bleeding on my pad which was minimal and normal, and then I was left to get dressed. She then escorted me back into the waiting room where my mum was.

Before my mum drove me home we stopped at a chemist (I rested in the car) and she bought the antibiotic tablets which I am taking for the next 7 days to help prevent any infection that may develop (the chances of this are very small) however a prescription is always given (at the clinic I went to) to ensure that this is at a minimal risk.

I felt really really tired in the car however once home I sat in front of the tv and ate some toast. I would recommend having dry toast with a light spread as soon as getting home. Also I was told to drink at least two litres of water that day and the following. The combination of fasting, anesthetic and the fact that it had been 30+ for the last week meant for the next two days I was constantly thirsty.

I slept that afternoon and then had dinner, read in bed and then slept that night. A few side effects I have noticed
– my chest (above my breasts) has been sore, sort of like I have an invisible bruise however this is getting better each hour
– I have had a few occasional twangs of mild pain in my lower abdomen (around the uterus) which again is very normal
– The feeling of being pregnant is gone, I not longer feel extremely tired, sick or have tender breasts

I had my abortion yesterday and it already feels like a distant event. It was significant however it was the right choice for me and I am so grateful that it was not a traumatic experience. When I was researching surgical abortion there was so much on women’s emotional turmoil. While this is very much a huge part of deciding weather to have an abortion or not I was always decided in what I was going to do. What I was wanting to find was information on the procedure to mentally prepare myself.

I also saw my GP today to touch base with what had happened and I also wanted to go over a few questions about the medication I’m on for the next week etc.

Choose the option thats right for you, no matter what other people say. Weather you choose to have a baby, have a termination, either medical or surgical…it is a personal choice and does not need to be justified or reasoned to anyone. There is support out there and doctors and clinics are a fantastic source of support and information.

I hope my story has helped even just one women in some small way. I was always looking for a story that would cover the actual day, what I would need to to do and what would occur from beginning to end.
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