”Hi Jenny! I’m the doctor who did your abortion on Saturday.”
September 2, 2014 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Jenny Kutner wrote an article about her upcoming abortion; after her abortion, her doctor wrote her back.
posted by and they trembled before her fury (46 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
The doctor sounds very cool
posted by jfwlucy at 4:38 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


From the second article: One of the clinics in Kansas I’ve been talking to about doing some weekend travel work let me know that basically when you step off the plane there are two U.S. marshals waiting for you. They offer you a bullet-proof vest if you want it. You stay under an assumed name, typically at people’s houses rather than hotels, because protestors will search the hotels. It’s terrifying.

I guess I realize that this happens, but this country is so messed up.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:54 AM on September 2, 2014 [57 favorites]


The part about how doctors have to actively seek out the training, and many places don't provide it, is also chilling:

It’s actually quite difficult to seek training as an abortion provider...I very much had to seek it out. It’s not a common part of the curriculum.

Many, for example ACOG — which is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – say in their curricula for residency training that they’re supposed to provide abortion training. But if they don’t, they can still continue their program so long as everything else is in compliance. So there are a large number of programs that don’t provide it. And I think for family medicine training, OBGYN training, it’s a part of something you’d need to provide as a family doctor or as an OBGYN. But a lot of programs don’t train for it.

posted by mediareport at 4:58 AM on September 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


One of the clinics in Kansas I’ve been talking to about doing some weekend travel work let me know that basically when you step off the plane there are two U.S. marshals waiting for you. They offer you a bullet-proof vest if you want it. You stay under an assumed name, typically at people’s houses rather than hotels, because protestors will search the hotels.

Such a nice, Christian atmosphere!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:00 AM on September 2, 2014 [34 favorites]


I swear, they should make action figures of these people for kids to play with and emulate.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:01 AM on September 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's 2014, and not only are we still talking about this shit, we've moved back to talking about contraceptives. Unbelievable.
posted by fungible at 5:27 AM on September 2, 2014 [19 favorites]


The part about how doctors have to actively seek out the training, and many places don't provide it, is also chilling:

I seem to recall reading that this is a big contributing factor to the lack of abortion providers. It's not that the 'average' doctor made an active choice not to offer abortions (though like the article said, they might be restricted by their employer), it's that they were trained in a climate where it wasn't expected of them and it didn't occur to them that it was something they ought to be able to do.
posted by hoyland at 5:29 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Women can still get a safe and legal abortion in Mexico.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:38 AM on September 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I seem to recall reading that this is a big contributing factor to the lack of abortion providers. It's not that the 'average' doctor made an active choice not to offer abortions (though like the article said, they might be restricted by their employer), it's that they were trained in a climate where it wasn't expected of them and it didn't occur to them that it was something they ought to be able to do.
posted by hoyland at 8:29 AM on September 2


Didn't we have an FPP a while ago about how some years back the pro-lifers started intimidating American medical schools into removing abortion training from their curriculum? I could've sworn I read something about that here a few years ago.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:41 AM on September 2, 2014


Women can still get a safe and legal abortion in Mexico.
  1. Sure, if you can afford the travel, time off work, etc. Once again, laws don't apply to you if you have enough money.
  2. Once anti-choicers get their way, they may have mandatory pregnancy tests at the border. Pee on a stick; if positive, you'll have to do it again on your way back in.
posted by MrGuilt at 5:51 AM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


Stories like this make me think of The Handmaid's Tale, which seems more and more relevant as time goes on.
posted by trillian at 6:02 AM on September 2, 2014 [23 favorites]


This reads like a dystopian novella to this European woman. I cannot imagine having to have this debate with anyone. A woman's body is hers to deal with. A woman's health is her own. Having to justify my health decisions - heck, my decisions - to utter strangers feels utterly alien to me. How terrible and how awful that you guys in the States are still having to have this fight. I feel so sorry for any woman making a tough decision and then having to deal with strangers' vitriol on top.
posted by kariebookish at 6:07 AM on September 2, 2014 [17 favorites]


You might want to look up the abortion laws in Northern Ireland, kariebookish.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:14 AM on September 2, 2014 [13 favorites]


MrGuilt, I was making a joke, since it's a sad indictment that women are indeed doing this, and that the state of our medical system isn't superior to Mexico's regardless of what certain part cheerleaders claim.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:17 AM on September 2, 2014


If you want to do something productive to assist physicians-in-training who want to learn and train the safe abortion techniques that should have been available to them in their standard curriculum, please consider a donation to Medical Students for Choice. Not only do they offer training externships, but they are also pushing to reform medical school curricula so that the next generation of physicians can adequately advise and assist their patients.

Given the world we live in, I think at home abortion is the optimum since it privatizes (to the furthest extent possible) what should be a private choice, but there will always be a need for doctors who can perform surgical abortions. There is probably no group of people I admire more in this country than the physicians, nurses and staff who provide abortions to the people who need them. They are modern-day saints.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:18 AM on September 2, 2014 [15 favorites]


Hi, yeah, thanks. I know about the abortion laws in Northern Ireland (and Ireland). That does not detract from the goosebumps I got when I read this piece.

And here's why reading these two articles feels so utterly alien to me: a few years ago a Danish doctor refused to sign off any abortions for his own religious reasons. He was demoted to a rural practice and all women's health issues in the practice were dealt with by others. The doctor's stance was so unusual it hit the tabloids.

Reading about women having to walk past a hostile crowd and doctors fearing for their safety.. I think Trillian's comment was spot on.
posted by kariebookish at 6:36 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Having to justify my health decisions - heck, my decisions - to utter strangers feels utterly alien to me.

It shouldn't. At least according to wikipedia, abortion in the UK notionally requires the approval of two medical practioners, and abortion after 12 weeks in Denmark requires a dispensation from the government.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:41 AM on September 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's 2014, and not only are we still talking about this shit, we've moved back to talking about contraceptives. Unbelievable.

From the interview: I have a colleague who works in Indianapolis, and their rules for their clinic and for the insurance that provides it is that they can only get an IUD if they’ve been proven to fail another form of birth control. So patients have to try something else and either accidentally get pregnant or have side effects they don’t like in order to get an IUD.

That part of the interview struck me as well. I am rather staggered by it. I should not be, I've talked about that slippery before. But every time I see evidence of it I am staggered anew.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:44 AM on September 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


The next logical step for anti-choicers will be to petition to have fetuses legally classified as corporations.
posted by delfin at 7:06 AM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


The next logical step for anti-choicers will be to petition to have fetuses legally classified as corporations.

Well if they're going to be people, they should go first class.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:14 AM on September 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


LongDaysJourney beat me to it, but I have a recurring donation set with Medical Students for Choice because, like the doctor in this article, I believe doctors should be trained to be there to help people who need it--and as long as women can get pregnant, they will need abortions for so many different reasons. Doctors should not be kept from the necessary education to perform safe abortions anymore than women should be kept from undergoing them.

I am glad that people are sharing these stories, which are not overly dramatic, nor even overly political, but just ordinary people living their lives, thoughtfully.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just a warning that the second link contains a graphic description of a botched abortion. I was not expecting that...
posted by Librarypt at 7:22 AM on September 2, 2014


"This reads like a dystopian novella to this European woman. I cannot imagine having to have this debate with anyone. A woman's body is hers to deal with. A woman's health is her own. Having to justify my health decisions - heck, my decisions - to utter strangers feels utterly alien to me. How terrible and how awful that you guys in the States are still having to have this fight. I feel so sorry for any woman making a tough decision and then having to deal with strangers' vitriol on top."

The US and western Europe are not that far apart on this issue, either culturally or legally. In most of those countries, abortion is available only during the first twelve weeks and afterwards only in the case of a threat to the mother's health. Many require waiting periods and many require counseling sessions. Some, like Finland, require even during the first trimester for women to get official authorization. Others, like Denmark, will allow abortion in the second-trimester for more expansive reasons, but require an official, legal determination of need. Abortion was illegal in Belgium before 1990 and today there's a six-day waiting period and requirement that a woman show sufficient need. In almost all countries, parental abortion is required for minors.

In general, from a legal viewpoint, the laws in these countries are much more restrictive than US law. The difference in approach is precisely what you value the most, a woman's individual autonomy. Legally, in this context in western Europe, she has less such autonomy than in the US because the notion of an individual's rights to their body relative to the needs of the society are much more emphasised here than there. There, the primary approach to abortion is understand as the collective good, not the individual's rights.

In practice, with the US becoming more restrictive over time while western Europe becoming less restrictive, in much of the US it's much more difficult to get an abortion than it is in much of western Europe. But it's pretty easy to find many places in the US where abortion is very available with little restriction (legal or cultural) and pretty easy to find many places in western Europe where abortion is very restricted, legally and culturally.

As far as social attitudes about abortion are concerned, the US and Europe are far more alike than different. Both are generally opposed to abortion but generally support its availability during the first trimester as a woman's choice. In both you'll find large constituencies who oppose abortion altogether. In both areas the expansive availability of abortion (as represented by the US's Roe v Wade, Canadian abortion law, or laws in eastern Europe, excepting Poland) is very much contrary to majority opinion about abortion, which is very suspicious of second-trimester abortion.

More to the point, an alignment of economically and culturally conservative movements has gained inertia in western Europe recently, they've taken their cues from politically active American conservatives, and are agitating for restrictions on abortion. There certainly are quite a few pro-lifers in Europe, and not just in the most Catholic countries. There's no guarantee that abortion rights in Europe are safe.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:35 AM on September 2, 2014 [10 favorites]


Religion. From the time of Ayla to the present. Bound and determined to restrict the freedom of women.
posted by notreally at 7:41 AM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Separation of Church and State FTW!
posted by mikelieman at 7:48 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just this week, the discovery of a (possibly miscarried) fetus in a bathroom resulted in a swarm of cops, including helicopters, at a Dallas high school. And talk of "charges" if they found the girl who miscarried it.

You know, not medical attention, but charges.

Still not sure what the helicopters were for.

If I was that teen, or knew who she was, I sure as hell wouldn't say anything.
posted by emjaybee at 7:57 AM on September 2, 2014 [26 favorites]


Bodyguards? Assumed identities? Vests? This is the American Taliban, why are we just accepting this as normal?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:13 AM on September 2, 2014 [14 favorites]


Strictly speaking Canada has no laws regulating abortion. The old restrictive laws got shot down by the Supreme Court in 1988 and the issue proved to be too radioactive for any subsequent Parliament to pass new laws.

Abortion in Canada is something that usually happens early in pregnancy unless there is a pressing need for late-term abortion. Funny how women and their doctors converge on that conclusion even if no one is being threatened with imprisonment.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:14 AM on September 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't understand how, if medical students are not trained in abortion techniques, women routinely have D&Cs in the hospital for incomplete miscarriages.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:25 AM on September 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Still not sure what the helicopters were for.

The abortion-demon who cast the spell that did that might have shed his Liberal Human disguise and tried to fly away using his gayshariah powers, and of course the witch who summoned him might still be flying around on her Nimbus 3000.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:36 AM on September 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


That's absurd. The fetus probably had outstanding warrants or something.
posted by dr_dank at 9:00 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


At least at our publicly funded hospitals here in Ohio, it is not legal to provide abortions or have admission agreements with abortion providers. Which means that anyone attending medical school or doing residency or internships at OSU's hospitals had to specifically seek out this training from an unaffiliated hospital. It is disgusting.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:10 AM on September 2, 2014


I had two babies back to back and when I went in to get an IUD placed when my youngest was six weeks old I found out I'd have to wait another week because they'd accidentally scheduled me with the midwife who would only place Mirena (hormonal IUD) and not Paragard (copper IUD) for religious reasons. She very directly told me that Paragard sounded like a good choice for me since I'm hormone sensitive but that didn't stop her from letting me risk another unplanned pregnancy waiting for care.

I have other stories I could tell here, but I have a professional career in the midwest and a long history of attaching my real name to my Mefi profile - suffice it to say that I live in Kansas City and if you need an abortion, you have to go to Kansas. I wouldn't wish a Kansas abortion on my worst enemy.
posted by annathea at 9:26 AM on September 2, 2014


Why are hormones more ethical than copper?
posted by jeather at 9:30 AM on September 2, 2014


> The next logical step for anti-choicers will be to petition to have fetuses legally classified as corporations.

Re-posting from the Hobby Lobby thread: An illustrated guide to american personhood.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


But see, that chart isn't exactly right. If I hire a person to kill the lady in the right I'm guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. If I'm lucky I'll spend the rest of my life in prison. In some states I can expect a needle in my arm.

And what would the pro-lifers do with a person who contracts the destruction of the entity on the left?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:43 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Still not sure what the helicopters were for.

She may have been black...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:47 AM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


Why are hormones more ethical than copper? - the copper IUD may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Hormonal IUDs have not been proven to do that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:59 AM on September 2, 2014


jeather: ThePinkSuperhero has it. Copper can prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting and growing into a viable fetus, whereas the hormonal IUDs are intended to something something ovulation.
posted by annathea at 11:34 AM on September 2, 2014


I swear, they should make action figures of these people for kids to play with and emulate.

My friends told me I was warehousing junk, but I knew these guys would come in handy some day!
posted by Pudhoho at 12:35 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I read this, wanted to give the writer a hug, and immediately thought of Handmaid's Tale. I hope she is not sought out by a wingnut. Then she named her doctor. Dr. De-Lin is a hero, but I worry that someone may seek her out and travel to New York to harm her. What a shitty way to have to think.

And if I went to a health care provider who would not provide the best option, I would file a complaint, and decline to pay for the appointment. Holy crap, that's such a great example of anti-choice assholes affecting day-to-day medical care.
posted by theora55 at 12:50 PM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is the American Taliban, why are we just accepting this as normal?

Well, it's a lot less destructive than the way we didn't accept the Islamic Taliban.
posted by carping demon at 2:35 PM on September 2, 2014


H.B.2, the Texas law that was passed in a completely shitty manner after Wendy Davis's filibuster and memorable testimony from others, and which Kutner cites in the first linked article, has had its worst provisions struck down by a federal court.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:34 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


It has already been appealed, Pallas. I don't know if they will take the fight futher if the Fifth Circuit repeats itself, but any abortion case that goes to the Supremes is going to cause some nail-biting.

The State of Texas immediately appealed Yeakel’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has overruled Yeakel in past rulings pertaining to HB 2. Until the Fifth Circuit stays Yeakel’s ruling, however, existing Texas abortion clinics may continue providing care without making hospital-like upgrades to their facilities.
posted by emjaybee at 5:12 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know people--my neighbors are two--who are lovely folks, the kind known as good Christian folk. I like them, they're fun to be around, and one or two of them are even thoughtful enough to discuss abortion in a civilized and thoughtful manner. But just knowing their antiabortion stance and desire to impose their will on my life makes me occasionally look at them with something like hatred.

I don't see the Taliban and Fundies as any different. Both willing to kill other people in the name of their god.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:16 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


In 1988 I was a student at the University of Toronto and participated in a lot of the pro choice marches leading up to the Supreme Court decision striking down the old laws. One of our chants was "I don't want to take a trip over the border. I don't want my body under law & order. (I forget the next line but the last one was...) I want the absolute right to choose." This chant alluded to the fact that at that time the US was where Canadian women could go to get an abortion. I'm so sad that many of those rights have since been eroded and know that it can happen here in Canada too.(and is in places)
posted by biggreenplant at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2014


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