Do you take precautions or chance it?
February 26, 2015 4:17 PM   Subscribe

"Fertile Ground" asks you to place yourself in the shoes of a young woman in South Dakota facing tough decisions in the wake of a one night stand. With a Choose Your Own Adventure format, you have to make the best choices you can.

The options available to you are shaped by the state of reproductive rights in America's great plains. The morning after pill is should be available over the counter at a nearby pharmacy. (The abortion pill requires a prescription.) But South Dakota allows pharmacists to refuse to dispense the morning after pill. If you can't obtain contraception, Sioux Falls hosts the state's lone abortion provider. (Your 5 hour drive to Planned Parenthood isn't the biggest hardship. The fact that South Dakota requires a 3 day waiting period means Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls isn't even considered as an option.)

With your fate in your hands, Sara James Mnookin's "Fertile Ground" asks you: Do you take precautions or chance it?
posted by Monochrome (23 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I took precautions and it all worked out fine right away. What am I missing? Is that supposed to be the moral of the story? Take precautions? That's not quite what I was expecting.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:43 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also, it's very strange that it all worked out given that apparently I took precautions a week later???
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:44 PM on February 26, 2015

Some of these options hit very close to home. I had my abortion at 15 weeks almost exactly a year ago. I am thankful for it literally every day. I can't describe my panic when the two PP in my state that provide abortions told me they were booked and there was no way to get me in in time. Fortunately, I found a women's health clinic that could fit me in, I did my waiting period, and an angel of a doctor did my abortion. And now here I am without a 5 month old that I did not want and would not have been able to cope with.
posted by SockMarionette at 4:47 PM on February 26, 2015 [18 favorites]

It's very easy to choose The Right Choice online. It can be very hard to be the right kind of responsible in the real world, and there are any number of extenuating circumstances that can make it impossible in real life.
posted by SockMarionette at 4:50 PM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

So I went in and re-tried. Two more things jump out at me:

1) This assumes that an unintended pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy. There was no "Start turning the home office into a nursery" option.

2) If you basically err on the side of caution it all works out, in spite of the restrictive laws. I don't think this is the message this is intended to convey and I realize that erring on the side of caution isn't always as easy as clicking one link instead of another. I was expecting more of an even-if-you-do-the-right-thing-obstacles-are-thrown-at-you-repeatedly-and-even-doing-the-right-thing-won't-help-you situation.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:52 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nevermind..found the keep the baby option. That one works out fine, too. Though it is framed as "Can't bring yourself to abort" rather than "decide a baby would be great."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:56 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I saw "oh, well, you're out $50 but you're fine otherwise!" and went "Huh. I've definitely been in situations where being out $50 at the wrong time could be a pretty big financial issue, especially if I had a medical copay laid on top of it." There's not really a lot of discussion about the costs of erring on the side of caution every time--if the married cousin had found out, for example, or if money was short, or if there hadn't been a pharmacist willing to sell the Plan B.
posted by sciatrix at 4:56 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

It all feels a little pat. It doesn't have the sharpness of reality, and all the choices seem to have no important consequences, as sciatrix notes.

Twitter seems to love it - some of my favorite writers/reporters gush away - but I don't think this reflects much sense of real life challenges and dilemmas at all.
posted by Miko at 4:59 PM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, like she ends up railroaded into marrying this one night stand after like a year, but it turns out everything is hunky dory and she learns to love her life of motherhood? Come on, real humans do not reliably work like that!
posted by sciatrix at 5:02 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Consider motherhood" is an option in one branch, and there's at least one scenario where you have the baby and all that matters is "she's here and alive" even though you're on disability and in a shitty custody agreement with the one night stand.

I dunno, I understand this is journalism and if so would love more links to stories and images that set a real context (more of the news stories, some images, some real individuals' stories).
posted by Miko at 5:09 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is working correctly. My wagon broke an axle and an ox died of dysentery.
posted by dr_dank at 6:00 PM on February 26, 2015 [26 favorites]

Oh, hay. I had an abortion in South Dakota once, something like twelve years ago. It wasn't exactly easy even then, before the new restrictions. I'll answer questions if you got 'em and if that's even relevant to this discussion.
posted by Blau at 10:53 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

"Twitter seems to love it" is great for Jihad parody videos, cute cats and babies but maybe not for mediocre news articles. Can you really not buy Plan B at the drug store? I heard you could.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:29 AM on February 27, 2015

I'm happy with anything to get people to really think about what women's health services are available and what the real life affects women choices wrt pregnancy.

Just today I heard the story of a local women who is suing a doctor for a botched abortion The real life consequences were exactly what I would expect, but I don't think that people often think about it.
posted by Gor-ella at 8:37 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the problem is it's so easy to just stumble into the one-click easy choice via the "Take precautions" tab, which, why would anyone not at least click it online? So it comes off like not much of a game, even though there may be more there on other branches.
posted by corb at 9:27 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

This gave me an anger. She lets him know that she's pregnant and everything works out because religion. There's no acknowledged risk to her that comes with telling a complete stranger that she is pregnant with his child. YMMV, but I also feel like a relationship based on guilt and shame isn't likely to be all that healthy.
posted by batbat at 11:23 AM on February 27, 2015

Can you really not buy Plan B at the drug store? I heard you could.

South Dakota was the first state to pass a law allowing individual pharmacists to opt out of dispensing Plan B if it violated their personal ethics, in 1998 (the "conscience clause.") The scenario in which the pharmacist refuses to dispense is realistic.

Availability of Plan B in South Dakota.
posted by Miko at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Remember when it was easier to go to the Dakotas for an abortion when you lived in Western Canada?
posted by clvrmnky at 4:22 PM on February 27, 2015

Everything about the "take precautions" answer on the first prompt could have been done so much better. Why is a seemingly consensual one night stand with a hot stranger in which a condom was used necessarily a "bad decision?" Why is $49.99 definitely affordable?

I wish that when you clicked that option, it said something like "Plan B will cost you $49.99, which means that you have to choose between paying your electric bill or buying the pill. Would you like to pay your electric bill and wait until your next paycheck which comes a day after the peak effectiveness window for Plan B or have your power turned off and buy the pill?"
posted by cheerwine at 7:02 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Why is $49.99 definitely afford

Absolutely, 100%. When I was in my mid20s this would have been a choice between Plan B and a serious sacrifice - electric, sure, or food, or my car insurance bill for when I needed a car to get to work but would often delay payment because of cash flow. It was a little pat about what life is like when you have no money - like, even when you drive to Fort Collins, this author knows you have to sign over two paychecks - but (a) what low-income person has two paychecks around that they haven't already had to cash, and (b) how the hell did you cover the gas to get to Fort Collins and back? Let alone the lost wages for being gone a few days.

I think it reveals a writer for whom living on the financial margins is a theoretical principle. Hey, if it gets people talking about abortion rights, great - but it's actually a lot softer and sweeter than these situations are in real life, making it all seem really not that bad.
posted by Miko at 8:20 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can you really not buy Plan B at the drug store? I heard you could.

I went to buy Plan B at a tiny drugstore in Georgia. The pharmacy assistant told me I had to have a prescription. I said, no, I didn't. He finally asked a supervisor, and they carded me.

Now what would've happened if I wasn't so persistent?
posted by "friend" of a TSA Agent at 12:57 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had saved this post to read later as I was at work when I first came across it... literally 30 seconds after I clicked on the post today, Planned Parenthood called asking me to renew my membership. Better believe I donated.
posted by polymath at 1:49 PM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can you really not buy Plan B at the drug store? I heard you could.

Depends on the store. Large chains seem to carry it for the most part, little independent ones vary wildly.
posted by MissySedai at 11:00 PM on March 1, 2015

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