Like it or not, all of our rights are intertwined.
June 15, 2016 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Maybe there’s some woman who has had four abortions and maybe that feels really wrong to you. But my rights are wrapped up with hers, so I have to fight like fuck for her to have as many as she wants—not just for her sake, but for mine, too. If I ever have a daughter, the way things are currently going, she’s going to be fucked if she ever goes through this.
From "Interview With a Woman Who Recently Had an Abortion at 32 Weeks"
posted by AceRock (57 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is an amazing interview. What that woman went through, and yet there are those who would pillory her for it.
posted by suelac at 11:42 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, there's no trouble that a woman can go through that you won't find people lining up to make worse.

That boss, geeze. It's one of those "little things" that's not so small.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:46 AM on June 15, 2016 [28 favorites]


Oh my god, such a hard read.

Lots of medical squick/terrible things happening in that link--just figured I'd mention because hoo boy was I not expecting that level of awful details.

That poor woman. I don't know how she's getting up the nerve to try to get pregnant again after all of that, but yeah, she can't really have a happy pregnancy even if a future one goes well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:48 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Somebody said once that, after a tragedy, if what you’re compelled to say starts with “at least…” then you should just shut up. I think that’s pretty true.

Yessssssss

Other than that. I don't know what to say. Other than it should be a crime for a women and her husband dealing with that much heartbreak to have to pay that much money and go through all that shit to do the best possible thing for their poor, suffering baby.
posted by love in light at 11:55 AM on June 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


God, that poor, poor family. I read this with my two-month-old son on my lap, him sleeping, me crying. I can't imagine. It is so beyond fucked that anyone in the world wants to do anything other than give this poor woman hugs and fine chocolates. And her poor little son, whose biology never gave him a chance, whom so many people would insist on being born into pain and suffocation. It makes me see red.
posted by town of cats at 11:56 AM on June 15, 2016 [29 favorites]


They want to make sure that you’re alone for some time, which I can appreciate, but not having my husband with me for arguably the worst moment of the entire eight months of pregnancy, was very hard.

Wow. I can't even. This woman is amazing. I am in awe.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:57 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's easier, less expensive, and less humiliating to buy a gun in most states than it is to get an abortion.
posted by rtha at 11:57 AM on June 15, 2016 [45 favorites]


This was a great interview, but it's also horrifying and rage inducing and heart breaking. Still, I'm glad I read it, so thanks for posting this FPP.

My heart goes out to this woman. It's amazing that she was willing and able to go through all of this in an interview, especially with it being so recent.

Also, if anyone was wondering about ways to contribute to Dr. Hern's clinic or similar causes, the top comment is by the author of the article and she posts links and information about how to donate to this cause. (I'm mostly mentioning this since I know some people don't like to read comments, especially since the comments on these kinds of articles can be vicious.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:00 PM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fund Abortion Now: There are abortion funds in many communities around the U.S. To find your local abortion fund, please use the search function below. In some cases, there will be more than one abortion fund that can help you. If you haven't made your appointment yet but you know which state your clinic will be in, go ahead and include that information. If you know how many weeks you are into your pregnancy (either based on an ultrasound or by counting back from the first day of your last period), please include that information, too, as it may affect your search results.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


He’s this 78-year-old man who’s been doing this for decades, who developed a lot of the abortion procedures that we know to be the most safe. He’s had 37,000 patients and he’s never lost anyone. And he’s a zealot, but he has to be. There are websites dedicated to offering money to kill him; his practice has four layers of bulletproof glass. They’ve been shot at. He was there during the Roe v. Wade decision. He’s been through it all. And the only other peer he had at his level was Dr. Tiller, who was killed in 2009.

Jesus. When exactly did people become so completely bonkers?
posted by Melismata at 12:17 PM on June 15, 2016 [27 favorites]


What really gets me about that article:

There are a few doctors in the country—four of them, you interviewed one of them—who will do this. But my doctor had previously referred patients to Dr. Hern, who’s in Boulder. He’s this 78-year-old man who’s been doing this for decades, who developed a lot of the abortion procedures that we know to be the most safe.. [. . . .] He has one other guy who is studying with him right now, but that doctor is an old man as well;

Abortion is bog standard medical care. It's basic health care. And when it isn't just basic health care, it's highly-specialized, delicate, complicated, life or death medical care. It's not part of the standard medical school curriculum and women die or become seriously injured because of that.

But with every inch backward the fucking GOP takes us, and with every step backward the fucking members of the DNC who continue to "compromise" and renew the Hyde Amendment take, it won't matter how Constitutionally guaranteed abortion is.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:20 PM on June 15, 2016 [64 favorites]


Already read this on Jez this morning: fabulous article. Thank you.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:27 PM on June 15, 2016


Bawling-at-work warning. Just so heartbreaking.
posted by Dashy at 12:29 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


that was a brutal read. it wouldn't really be possible for me to become more pro-choice than I already am (it's turned to 11) but damn....wtf America?
posted by supermedusa at 12:31 PM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Jesus. When exactly did people become so completely bonkers?

When their religious, socio-cultural, financial, and governmental leaders all decided to be one team and promote their goals in that way. People are susceptible to social influence, which is why the consequences can be so dramatic and severe when people in power decide that the non-powerful and their lives are expendable in the pursuit of greater social mastery.
posted by clockzero at 12:35 PM on June 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


It makes me feel angry that we can't just have an honest conversation about it—that we can't talk about it scientifically or practically. It all has to be talked about in these couched terms that are ultimately religious and it just makes me crazy. [...] Abortion law is Christian Sharia law, based on religion and emotion.

Oh, this. The fact that anti-choice activists would gladly continue to let this woman and all others like her suffer so unnecessarily, just to curry favor with their idea of god? And the rest of us are supposed to respect their "opinions," even as those "opinions" turn into law, for no reason other than that they're hiding behind the mantle of their religion? Fuck this.

Reading this interview interspersed with the faces of decades' worth of pro-choice activists carrying signs and hopeful faces makes me feel so despondent. Growing up in the '80s, it never occurred to me that 2016 would look like this, where we're trying to claw back our bodily autonomy from the clutches of the same old misogynist nutjobs. Among the many truths I internalized coming of age under the tutelage of the second wave was that women had simply sacrificed too much for us to lose what had been so hard-won.

So for most of my girlhood, I had truly believed women's rights were well on their way to being held sacrosanct and that common sense and choice would ultimately prevail. That we're spiraling back to the era of coathangers and Jane a little faster every day never gets any less shocking. It's terrifying to know that 20-something years after I wore a t-shirt with this printed on it to middle school, women are actually significantly worse off than we were back then. We can relearn the herbalist ways of our foremothers, escort women to clinics, talk about our own abortions to any and everyone willing to listen, distribute free birth control, donate and vote and protest, but truly, when the rubber hits the road, what the fuck else can we do?

Men, we can't stop this without you. We need you to speak up and act out and raise hell for our rights. It isn't exactly a coincidence that no one listens to women unless we just so happen to agree with men, so please, please, DO SOMETHING.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 12:35 PM on June 15, 2016 [87 favorites]


This is why I did not join in with the rejoicing and laughing at Gawker's expense when they declared bankruptcy. I have read too many articles and interviews from them that featured important, under-served voices like this woman's to think the news of their demise is anything but a blow for news media.
posted by schroedinger at 12:40 PM on June 15, 2016 [82 favorites]


32 weeks is the gestational age when my twin daughters were born, after a nail-biting, gut-wrenching, too-short high-risk pregnancy. We had the endless string of ultrasounds, the constant growth monitoring, the constantly changing expectations for how "normal" the kids were likely to be, the targets of "if we can just make it to X weeks...."

Our situation wasn't otherwise much like hers, and our outcomes were very different. But the idea that someone could be forced to watch this parade of mounting awful news, to confront the possibility of some of the worst human experiences I can personally imagine, and then be forced to deliver and have those experiences become reality... for me, personally, that's exactly the horror movie that plays out in my mind when I think of what could have been.

Thank goodness this woman was able to make the choice that made sense to her, and good on her for sharing it. We need more of these stories.

I just wish that, where we are right now, it wasn't necessary for her case to be so horrific, so clear-cut, for society to consider her decision valid.
posted by gurple at 12:42 PM on June 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


Also, if anyone was wondering about ways to contribute to Dr. Hern's clinic or similar causes, the top comment is by the author of the article and she posts links and information about how to donate to this cause. (I'm mostly mentioning this since I know some people don't like to read comments, especially since the comments on these kinds of articles can be vicious.)

Thanks for this, I'm conditioned not to read the comments on most articles but as soon as I was done with this piece I wanted to give every dime in my bank account to this doctor and to the women who need him.
posted by kate blank at 12:50 PM on June 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


A note to any self-proclaimed progressive who has ever felt inspired to trot out the "she's not one of the Good Ones, she's using abortion as birth control!" canard in a discussion about women's bodily autonomy: This is what you're encouraging, these people are your ideological compatriots, and this is what you're fighting for. Kindly gather your hot takes and dispose of them where the sun &c. &c. TIA!
posted by amnesia and magnets at 12:55 PM on June 15, 2016 [38 favorites]


Abortion is bog standard medical care. It's basic health care. And when it isn't just basic health care, it's highly-specialized, delicate, complicated, life or death medical care. It's not part of the standard medical school curriculum and women die or become seriously injured because of that.

What would it take to change this? It seems like a pretty glaring gap, and it means that even if abortion laws became way more liberal everywhere we'd still have trouble filling the need - and the more students have to learn about a procedure they can't legally perform everywhere, then the more those future doctors will care about this issue.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:11 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


This just hurt my heart to read. What a brave woman, to come forth with her story.
posted by MissySedai at 1:13 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had to take a break and come back to that article. It was so harrowing. How can the truth prevail? I just have almost no hope that these truths will ever be given the standing that they deserve. Will men read this article?

I'm curious about all the pamphlets that show up in medical offices about various pregnancy things and why I've never seen one about abortion and your rights. When I was pregnant they were very cavalier about doing blood testing. At an appointment around 12 weeks I brought it up and the technician went, "Oh! Did you want that testing? You *have* to have it by 13 weeks!" Uh, yeah, I said, of course I want this testing. It was only in retrospect that I realized I had no idea about these limitations and how they related to my state's laws about abortion and about what my own rights were and what the resources were if things went sideways. Things go sideways a lot.

Women must be allowed the right to make medical decisions that are best for them with the advice of a doctor. They must be allowed the right and they must have the ability to have medical procedures performed in a safe and timely manner. Without that right, women die.
posted by amanda at 1:17 PM on June 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


showbiz_liz, I don't know what it takes to change this. Medical Students for Choice does an abortion education clinic that gets about 800 students a year and lobbies medical schools to make abortion education routine in their curricula. And they have chapters all over the world. As far as I know, they are the closest thing to a lobbyist on the issue--I don't believe I've ever seen anything from NARAL or Planned Parenthood on the issue.


The Amerian Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also advocates for better abortion care training in medical school
, but clearly no-one is listening. It's not an unknown problem, but it's one that does not get a lot of press or concern in the political regulatory bodies.

I think that state legislators who oppose abortion restrictions like the Texas hospital-admitting-privileges provision should add "trained in abortion in medical school and medical schools must offer the training as standard curriculum" to bills. But I doubt it would work.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:26 PM on June 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


First-hugs to this family for having to go through all of this! And then for sharing their story! Best wishes for their future pregnancies!

Then-I'm always fascinated by doctors who won't do elective abortions but will do therapeutic abortions for miscarriages via D&C's and some D&E's. It's really quite similar technically. I'm (no longer) amazed that in the USA predominantly male-led and publicly financed med schools caved to political pressure to justify not teaching a procedure that up to 1 in 3 women might need based on historical miscarriage rates. I guess they send everyone to a surgeon these days for a D&C if meds can't be used. No wonder I occasionally hear of women going to PP for their post miscarriage D&C because it's less expensive than what their OB arranged.

Finally-injecting meds to stop the fetus' heart and then going to the hospital for induction? Not that uncommon actually.....
posted by beaning at 2:02 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wasn't totally clear: could she not have the abortion in NY because of a lack of providers, or does NY have some anti-late-term-abortion law?
posted by Monochrome at 2:14 PM on June 15, 2016


Jesus. When exactly did people become so completely bonkers?

Leaving aside the political, when they are either too lazy or too badly socialized to be self-reflective and so they think it's totally fine to have fun and enjoy punishing "bad" people. What drives this at the mass level is mass enjoyment of sanctioned cruelty.
posted by Frowner at 2:20 PM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wasn't totally clear: could she not have the abortion in NY because of a lack of providers, or does NY have some anti-late-term-abortion law?

The latter. New York has a ban after 24 weeks "or necessary to preserve mother's life".
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:30 PM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I just shared this interview on FB... It so sad and so powerful. I have deep respect for her and her willingness to be so honest about her experience. I know a few women who have abortions due to genetic issues but none were as far along as she was.

Her story reminded me of how important it is to vote for pro choice politicians at every level of government.
posted by cairnoflore at 2:32 PM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Holy shit this was so hard to read but thank you for posting it. I'm always struck by how pro-"life" folks seem to have no compassion for women like this, or they think that if we allow one person access to abortion everyone will just get them willy nilly. No one should be forced to endure the financial, physical, or emotional hardships this woman endured. Our politics are just downright cruel and I'm so fucking tired of it all.
posted by FireFountain at 2:41 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I wasn't totally clear: could she not have the abortion in NY because of a lack of providers, or does NY have some anti-late-term-abortion law?

Both. There is a law in NY, but there are also maybe 3-4 late term abortion providers left in the whole country. There is a lack of training in abortion in general and given the cost of medical school and the risk and social opprobrium faced by those who would practice it, med students aren't exactly beating down the door to learn how to do it.
posted by schroedinger at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know an ob-gyn who asked about late-term abortion training while in med school and was flat-out denied; one reason given was that if they trained in it, that would be their whole career because there are so few others doing it.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 3:10 PM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


What a read. What an important and profound article.

We fetishise parenthood and motherhood so much that knowledge and narrative and stories of women's experience that is different is almost completely absent.

I'm infertile and after three years of trying to get pregnant (including 7 IVF rounds) i am sick of hearing only the good stories and the good outcomes.

No one talks about when things go wrong, we focus only on this Blissful Experience of Motherhood (TM) -- other experiences are rarely heard.

And the toll on women's bodies (which she so horrifyingly eloquently describes) is elided completely. After three years, seven IVFs and two miscarriages i am a physical and emotional wreck yet i must put on an outward face that everything is okay.

And whilst my husband has also had a horrific emotional journey, getting himself through and also supporting me (AMAZING AND AWESOME does not even begin to describe him), he's never borne the physical toll.

Horrifying as it is, this woman's story and others like it MUST make it into the mainstream narrative. These stories can't be hidden anymore. There are so so many of them.
posted by prettypretty at 3:23 PM on June 15, 2016 [52 favorites]


This woman is so damn brave. What a refreshingly frank interview.

I really hope this piece reaches some of those who may not have strong convictions on this issue, or feel like it has nothing to do with them, so why even care? This is why. This is why you should care, because this woman could be your sister, your friend, your colleague, your niece, your friendly coffee shop barista, your next door neighbor. This could be any of us women given the perfect storm of tragic and unforeseeable circumstances.
posted by bologna on wry at 3:53 PM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have to admit this ugly truth about myself: I'm pro choice all day long but internally I do struggle with being judgemental towards women who have abortions for reasons that I don't personally consider "good enough". It's something I really hate, that I have an emotional knee jerk reaction to something that is frankly, none of my business. That's why this woman's point about her rights are tied up with every other woman who has an abortion really struck me. She's completely right, a woman having her 4th abortion is no less worth my empathy and respect than she is. It's super important to remember that abortion is our right as women-for any reason. And a woman's reasons for having an abortion are nobody's business but her own.

When she stopped and asked the interviewer if SHE was ok? What an amazing woman.
posted by hollygoheavy at 4:05 PM on June 15, 2016 [31 favorites]


Also, Dr. Hern should be heralded. As an almost 78 year-old who probably at one time had blissful thoughts of retirement, I can't even imagine the pressure he must feel to keep practicing given the dire scarcity of remaining providers.

Not to even mention the whole trying to stay unmurdered and other bullshit he surely deals with every freaking day. Can you even imagine? Hey, call the roofer, this leak needs to be patched... oh what's that? Roofers A through X won't do business with us? And we now have to pay extra for Roofer Z to travel from three hours away and give him $1,500 upfront just for hazard pay? So this $750 patch job is now costing us $4,200? Great.

I mean, I'm making all of that up, but I wonder just how far down the rabbit hole the headache of more-shit-to-deal-with travels, being associated with a VALID HEALTH CLINIC like this. Ugh.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by bologna on wry at 4:14 PM on June 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


I just don't have the right words. I have feelings all in my head and heart but they're not emerging as good words.

This woman's story represents many, many stories, each one different, but all involving suffering. Even without the travel and the money and the security concerns at the clinic, this would have been a horrendous thing to experience. Her clarity of thought and ability to express herself amaze me.

Reading the interview was wrenching. I had an early abortion when I was 19, and a bunch of years later, had a very long and difficult birth with my son, who was a premie. The physical and emotional things she describes bring back clear and physical memories. I don't even have a uterus anymore and the spot where it used to be throbs in empathy. I was lucky enough to exercise a lot of choice during both of those events, but there are things, body and nature things, that are beyond anyone's control.

Two decades later, I vividly recall what epidural failure and seizure-like shivering feel like. I never talk about them or any of the other awful things that happened, even in the most glossed-over of ways, because it frightens people who want children and disgusts people who do not. And the slightest mention always includes, "But it was worth it for my amazing child." And it was, but that's pretty much echoing every person who invalidated my experiences because at least the baby was eventually healthy -- including a therapist. And I very, very rarely discuss my abortion; I've been often surprised by people's views on the subject (on all sides of it) and cannot handle someone without a personal stake running off their mouths. It's been lonely.

I guess my point is, even when abortion is accessible and when a woman is giving birth to a wanted child who will live, it can be so god-damned hard. Restrictions on what a woman is allowed to do for her own peace, health, and sanity only cause suffering on top of suffering. It's alarming that things are only getting worse, with many states passing stricter laws and with the population of doctors that are equipped to help women getting older and dying. I don't understand why the suffering of women is an okay thing to support.
posted by Miss Scarlet with the Candlestick in the Lounge at 4:19 PM on June 15, 2016 [34 favorites]


We don't research or know how to treat most pregnancy or fertility issues. No drug companies want to touch pregnant women. Nobody wants to study it. As a result, a *terrifying* number of problems are just giant unknowns. Pregnant women facing issues are regularly dismissed as having "first pregnancy jitters" and most medicine prescribed is off label. Fertility treatment is a giant crap shoot and many women end up spending huge amounts of money on treatments, potions and lotions with zero proven benefit.

We don't know how to talk about pregnancy loss. Late term pregnancy loss and infant loss is kept in the dark, not discussed. Things are improving, but not quickly enough.

We don't know how to talk about infertility and miscarriage. As women who can't hold a pregnancy, we sweep it under our emotional rugs and we do so for good reasons-- if you talk about it, people start to judge. They wonder what is wrong with you. Or they mouth sympathy but secretly feel superior that they started early enough/didn't party when young/whatever. And when women do talk about infertility or miscarriages, there is *inevitably* someone who tries to make them feel better by suggesting adoption. Which is another way to silence the grief someone feels. (No offense to adoption-- a wonderful thing to do, but it is unfair to both children and mothers to treat it like a cure for a heart broken by infertility.)

I'm really happy Jezebel posted this story, and I'm also even more pissed at the people happy about the fall of Gawker right now.
posted by frumiousb at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


but internally I do struggle with being judgemental towards women who have abortions for reasons that I don't personally consider "good enough".

It's hard to silence this voice, but what does it for me is this thought: when a woman who is pregnant tells you "I can't do this," that is what makes her deserve an abortion. A woman who can't handle a pregnancy is a person who by definition needs an abortion.

Pregnancy is hard, sometimes dangerous, sometimes fatal. No one should ever be forced to go through with it if they aren't ready. Any more than you would force someone to jump out of a plane or climb a mountain.
posted by emjaybee at 5:07 PM on June 15, 2016 [99 favorites]


emjaybee: I cannot favorite your comment hard enough or often enough.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:23 PM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


We don't know how to talk about infertility and miscarriage. As women who can't hold a pregnancy, we sweep it under our emotional rugs and we do so for good reasons-- if you talk about it, people start to judge

Spot on.

And whilst I feel comfortable posting about my infertility here, under a pseudonym, I would never talk about it under my real name. I want people to know what I've been through but right now I don't think I could handle the (incredibly well meaning) response
posted by prettypretty at 5:51 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the best interviews I've ever read. Truly touching. A great post - thank you.
posted by Kalmya at 6:12 PM on June 15, 2016


It is an empowering place: there are pamphlets there that say, “You’re a woman. You know what’s best for you.”
A moment of hope and solidarity in an incomprehensibly horrible event. Thank you, Dr. Hern, staff, and all the abortion providers putting their lives on the line to do difficult, thankless work.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:27 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


These are important stories to tell. The anti-abortion forces are selling a lie with a blown up picture of a perfect white fetus. They never want to talk about all the horrible ways it can go wrong and the choices an expectant parent has to make. They make these tragedies a thousand times more difficult to endure.
posted by humanfont at 8:49 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


This woman's bravery and eloquence is stunning. I'm grateful she had the strength to share her story despite the unfathomable pain she's still dealing with.

If you haven't seen the documentary After Tiller, about the four doctors left in this country who perform late-term abortions (including Dr. Hern) I cannot recommend it highly enough. This interview with Dr. Susan Robinson, one of the other four, is also worth reading.

Oh, and as a measure of just how fucked up things are, the Jezebel interview was actually the second thing I read today from a woman forced to travel across state lines to terminate a non-viable pregnancy because a law prevented her from accessing timely and compassionate care at home. This eloquent NYT op-ed by Valerie Peterson, of Texas, was the first.
posted by karayel at 9:23 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I can't believe I made it through this whole interview because it's too close to home.

I've had two abortions now for reasons similar to, though not exactly the same, as this woman. It's been hard for us to conceive at all, and we have no living children. Both these pregnancies were very precious and wanted by my partner and me.

The first was at 20 weeks, which is not as far along as this woman but pretty fucking terrible nonetheless. I could feel my baby kicking. We had made plans and were excited, dreaming of what our baby would be like. To learn something had gone so seriously wrong was devastating. All the stuff she describes about the not knowing, then finding out there could be something terribly wrong, all the tests and shit and then finding out for sure everything's gone sideways and then having to decide what to do, and then having to wait...yeah. About how you have to walk around obviously pregnant with everyone wanting to be excited about your baby, but you don't want to explain the baby is doomed. It's awful.

I live in a country with good access to abortion and socialized medicine, but we still had to travel far and pay money for things that aren't covered. Nothing that touches the amount she had to pay though. We were treated so well by the medical providers and I'm grateful for that. And it was still the worst experience of my life, close second being the second time the whole fucking thing happened again. It was only marginally better the second time because we were less naive and knew what to expect, but it still was devastating even though we did know.

I can't imagine compounding this experience with the kinds of barriers American women routinely face.

I know some people would judge, so I don't tell everyone that we made the choice to terminate two severely unhealthy pregnancies. I don't regret our choice, but I really don't have the emotional energy to deal with judgment, either. (Plus, I'm worried I'll end up telling someone they can actually just go fuck themselves or worse, punching them in the face.)

I commented previously on MeFi, after our first loss--and I consider it a loss, though there are people cruel enough to tell people like me that we don't get to call it a loss because we chose to terminate--that although our baby was very much wanted, I don't consider my abortion for medical reasons worthier than someone else's for non medical reasons. All pregnant people deserve access to safe, legal abortions, including people like myself, like the woman in the Jezebel article, and yes, the person who is having an abortion simply because they're pregnant and don't want to be.

It's not the kind of thing that's easy to explain to people. The best and kindest friends and family do their best to try to understand. I'm very glad this woman has shared her story.
posted by Secret Sockdentity at 2:11 AM on June 16, 2016 [36 favorites]


What I'd like to do to her boss!

Great interview. She seems like a very strong lady and I wish her and hers all the very best.
posted by james33 at 3:17 AM on June 16, 2016




I couldn't finish this article. I read up through the trip to Colorado and the pain and tragedy of what she had to go through was simply overwhelming.
posted by Atreides at 6:54 AM on June 16, 2016


Wow, Dr. Robinson is an impressive person. Such warmth, dedication, and competence. I watched the piece on her with rising anxiety, however. What can an average person even do to help increase the number of practitioners who can help women?
posted by Miss Scarlet with the Candlestick in the Lounge at 7:54 AM on June 16, 2016


This interview is incredible, and Jia is great. But how incredible is it that now only does Elizabeth walk us eloquently through this awful ordeal, but halfway through she checks to make sure "Are you okay?" I sure wasn't okay.

In regards to the issue of there only being 4 late term abortion providers left, who refuse to retire because no one would take their spot, my local NPR station did a two part report on the very similar issue of abortion training for OB/GYN residents in Texas.
Surveys and research show that doctors who do abortions may have fewer job opportunities. That’s because many hospitals and group practices refuse to employ doctors who do abortions, even if it’s during evenings or weekends, on their own time.

A few years ago, 48 doctors in Texas did abortions, but a recent study shows it’s now down to 28. Some of the remaining doctors are getting older.

Dr. Bernard Rosenfeld, 73, hasn’t been able to line up a successor. “They’ve picketed my house where I live,” he said. “They put bullets in our parking lot.” Rosenfeld has two medical offices, but provides abortions at only one, a modest brick building in the Museum District. He bought the abortion clinic from other doctors in 1982, but now he can’t find anyone to buy it from him.
...
In the end, it was found that only three out of 18 programs in Texas have made arrangements for residents to spend time learning at an outpatient family-planning clinic. Those types of clinics are where most abortions in Texas take place.
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:48 AM on June 16, 2016


From the Texas article that Karayel linked above:

"I had never been involved in activism before. I didn’t know about these types of laws, or really have an opinion on abortion before I needed one myself."


This is part of the problem, I think. As a species, we actually have a hard time with empathy. We have a hard time understanding the particulars of a situation until it happens to us or a close loved one. Part of the reason I think it took so long for homosexuality to come out into the light is that it took time for people to have their first "gay experience" with a gay child, a gay friend, a gay person in their church. Then they could see the light. It's maddening. So maddening.

Abortion is also something that happens to women. And daily I read about how expendable women are. It's icky and we don't want to think about it...like menstruation and rape and sexual assault. Ugh. Gross. Let's not think about it. And when you do have an experience like this Texas woman, Valerie Peterson, it feels singular and lonely and it's hard to get people to fight your fight.

This is why we rely on government. We rely on the people who can make the change to find the empathy to cover for the rest of us who, honestly, have 99 problems and today, abortion or gay rights or homeless children or pay inequity are not one of them. The only reason abortion and reproductive rights are in the mess that they are in is because it has helped certain people get power. They have gotten elected on the backs of expendable women.

Pregnancy is a medical condition. It's dangerous. It's necessary. Reproductive freedom is the only freedom that allows women any semblance of equality. Without it, there are no gains. #expendablewomen
posted by amanda at 8:52 AM on June 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


but internally I do struggle with being judgemental towards women who have abortions for reasons that I don't personally consider "good enough".

Here's the thing: Pregnancy sucks for some women. I'm currently pregnant with a planned baby. But I didn't plan to be this sick. The exhaustion, constant nausea, daily vomiting (sometimes multiple times a day, and yes, I've used the work toilets and worried if someone thought I was bulimic)...

If we've cooked in the house in the past 48 hours, I can't stand the smell inside the house. But if I try to go outside--well, they're spray painting the new construction.

I no longer enjoy eating. I don't go out because I have to bring an emesis bag with me, and my nose is too sensitive anyway. I don't sleep well and wake up at the slightest noise. All of this, even without hormones--of which there are plenty--is enough to make a woman become mentally ill. (And in fact, I've had way more fights with my husband, with whom I almost never fight.)

I've taken 1-2 sick days every week for the last 3 weeks. Even when I go to work I'm not productive. Thankfully, I have a very flexible work environment that will tolerate this.

Most women feel better by the end of the first trimester. But a lot of women feel sick the entire time.

If I were accidentally pregnant and working a job that doesn't allow this flexibility, I would absolutely abort. If you want a woman in such a situation to keep the baby (even for adoption), you're asking her to lose her job and her life potentially for the entirety of her pregnancy. And there's no guarantee she can ever get back on track. (And if she does not adopt out the child, I can totally see how she would resent it, because being pregnant is not easy.)

Yes, I understand some women struggle to get pregnant. But the fact of the matter is that the world is not fair. Some women want to get pregnant and can't. Some women don't want to get pregnant and do. Just as our healthcare should cover fertility treatments, it should also cover abortions.
posted by ethidda at 12:21 PM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


ethidda--I came to really understand after my two pregnancies just how much of a toll it can take on one's body. I wanted those babies, yet I found many aspects of pregnancy difficult. Even though I myself am willing to put up with those physical consequences again, I would fight tooth and nail to make sure no one had to go through that experience who didn't want to.

And just as an aside: anti-abortionists who try to pressure women to give their babies up for adoption instead of having an abortion--fuck them. Do I want a baby? Yes. I'd love it if someone handed me a baby. But no one owes me a baby. Pregnant women should not be used as incubators for infertile people.

Am I sad I'm not a mom? Hell yes. But that doesn't mean women who want abortions owe it to me to carry a baby to term for me. What a horrifying, inhumane idea.
posted by Secret Sockdentity at 1:55 PM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yep. I don't care whether anyone thinks my reasons for having an abortion are good enough. Having an abortion if I feel it is necessary is my right. And that's that.

The point she makes is so important. This story is heartrending and makes me so sad and angry for this woman. But you don't have to have a heartrending story or a medical reason compelling enough to sway anti-choice activists, or anything like that, in order to be as worthy of making decisions about your body and the things it does. We are empowered to make that choice and we need to keep fighting so that everyone stays empowered to make that choice, no matter how compelling your story is to people looking in from the outside.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:42 PM on June 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


A woman also knows other kinds of dangers she is in. Is this world a safe place for her to bring a baby to term? Does she have enough food to eat, a safe place to sleep? There have been articles and studies suggesting that homicide is the first or second leading cause of death among pregnant women. The other cause being heart disease. So, you could be pregnant and have a sick heart or a sick boyfriend, and if it's the latter, you might know it and it's very dangerous for you to be pregnant. When a woman is pregnant, it traps her. She's got to "see it through" to one conclusion or another. But a woman knows when it is dangerous to be pregnant. How dare we suggest to women that they cannot make a safe choice?
posted by amanda at 3:06 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


"To be clear, if the doctors thought there was any way he might make it, I would have taken that chance. I truly would have put myself through anything. What I came to accept was the fact that I would never get to be this little guy’s mother—that if we came to term, he would likely live a very short time until he choked and died, if he even made it that far. This was a no-go for me. I couldn’t put him through that suffering when we had the option to minimize his pain as much as possible."


What a clear thinking and compassionate person.

She was Spartacus' mother. She made the best decision for him.

RIP little Spartacus.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:17 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


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