Rivers of Babylon: The Story of a Third Trimester Abortion
January 31, 2019 10:41 AM   Subscribe

The first walk I took outside my house after my abortion was with my rabbi....She said something to me, then, that has been a great comfort. “You had a choice,” she said, “but you did not have free will.” A choice that was no choice at all. (Content warning: a depiction of a of third-trimester abortion physically, practically, and emotionally)
posted by muddgirl (21 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well.

This is quite the piece. I am so glad I read it and I will be sharing it with others.

But it is not an easy read. I am incredibly pro-choice. I am. And this has me close to tears at my desk at work.

No one should have to make this choice. Choices. And they shouldn't have to fight their own country and own fellow citizens for the right to make a choice that can only be described as fucking agonizing.

I don't know. I don't think I have the words.

But wow.
posted by aclevername at 11:22 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


“Right now,” he said, “you are most likely, although I cannot promise, dealing either with a baby with profound cognitive impairment that will die shortly after birth, or a baby that will live with intervention, but will never be able to swallow to clear his airway and may not be able to regulate his own breathing.

In this world the good xians are making women in this situation not just guilt laden in addition to the impossibly difficult situation they are living through, but legal and financial hurdles that are mind boggling. There are two (2) possible locations to deal with this in the entire country, Florida (do not go there) and Colorado. Planned Parenthood folks are total saints in this regard, such good people!

Something rational needs to be done, but I got nuthn.
posted by sammyo at 11:22 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Devastating.
posted by impishoptimist at 11:25 AM on January 31


Well, that was harrowing. What this woman had to go through on top of losing a desired pregnancy was utterly inhumane. I can't help but wonder what must be happening to other women in similar situations who can't take days off and travel thousands of miles for help.

Because of the nature of the abortion fight in the country, let me say this plainly: what happened to me was not the clinic’s fault. It was not the doctor’s fault. It was not his staff’s fault. There was no error of medical judgment or medical practice. It is the fault of forty years of pushing abortion care out of hospitals and stigmatizing and marginalizing women and care providers to the point where only four doctors in the United States are foolish enough to risk getting shot point-blank every day on their way to work to provide late-term abortions. It is the fault of legislators terrorizing physicians with spurious investigations instead of funding abortion research and finding ways to make the procedure safer. It is the fault of giving extremist, hateful, radicalizing discourse equal airtime with scientific fact and medical expertise. What would it look like, if we truly funded women’s healthcare? I wish I knew.

.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:26 AM on January 31 [21 favorites]


I am a monthly donor to Medical Students for Choice, which funds instruction in abortion services for medical students. It's not part of a standard medical curriculum and--as I understand it--sometimes not part of medical education at all. When the author wrote about the medical student intern at the clinic, I was reminded of the good work MS4C do.

As long as humans can and do become pregnant, some pregnancies will end in something other than a live. healthy birth. For that reason--as well as others--abortion is simply medical care and a civilized, modern nation has no business making it difficult to receive well-trained. quality abortion care, near to home, when you need it.
posted by crush at 11:57 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


"were God not so full of mercy, there would perhaps be more mercy in the world, and not just in him."

I gasped. Such a statement of what evil is done in the name of God, or gods.
posted by notsnot at 12:02 PM on January 31 [13 favorites]


Wow. That was a hard read. But a necessary one. Thank you for posting it. There was no good choice here. G-d damn the people who make this road harder.

Baruch dayan ha-emet.
posted by Mchelly at 12:06 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


My heart feels squeezed and tears are running down my face in the waiting room at my kid’s orthodontist. Whooooo.
posted by 41swans at 12:11 PM on January 31


abortion is simply medical care and a civilized, modern nation has no business making it difficult to receive

Absolutely. Even if everyone who wants it gets free birth control. Even if the social safety net makes it easier to be a parent. Even if adoptions become a more realistic option, there will still be women who will need to terminate pregnancies. There is no way to completely end abortion without immense cruelty to women.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:19 PM on January 31 [13 favorites]


Having been in a similar situation. The worst part is this grief filled tragedy happens, but it's like your grief is a deeply racist uncle with hard opinions about circumcision and the middle east. You can't bring that grief/trauma out ever without risking at best making everyone deeply uncomfortable, at worst starting an actual fight.
posted by French Fry at 12:26 PM on January 31 [14 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:36 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The Rabbinical Council of America opposes the New York law. The article I linked makes an observation that I’ve seen other pro-choice Modern Orthodox women make, too, which is that the language used by RCA is direct from the Religious Right. I am profoundly angry that some Jews feel so cozy with Dominionists. People like Pence do not have the best interests of Jews (or anyone else who is an outsider to them) in mind. Rather, we’re just pawns in their apocalyptic end game fantasies, and it hurts to see this. I also think the statement is halachally wrong and irresponsible, but what do I know? I’m just a woman.

The article in the FPP should be required reading for anyone who wants to run their mouth about late term abortion. That is the reality, not some made up woman who breezily decides to have an abortion of “convenience” two days before her due date, FFS.
posted by Ruki at 12:41 PM on January 31 [18 favorites]


French Fry, sending love. You can talk to me about it anytime if you want.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 12:42 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


The part about fetal remains and burial and the funeral home, ugh. I get angry and emotional about abortion laws infringing on my religious rights as a Jew, but no more so than when these burial laws come up. I emphasize with her so much that that's what made her crack.

Pro-choice means that people should be able to mourn and bury, or not mourn and bury, the remains after an abortion or miscarriage, in the manner of their choosing, and not what's dictated by someone else's religious tradition.
posted by damayanti at 12:47 PM on January 31 [16 favorites]


A woman having a late-term abortion is a woman who is suffering, whatever the reason and it fills me with rage that we treat them like criminals.

Mike Huckabee, who knows less than nothing about carrying a fetus, propounds that it is wholly separate from a woman's body.

But there is no black and white with pregnancy and birth; the fetus is and is not part of you, or rather it is until it isn't. But even then you can carry part of its DNA, forever. It's built entirely from you, your blood and bones and cells; of course it's part of you. But also an invader, that can get sick and then threaten your health and well-being even as you try to protect it.

I used to think like Huckabee because I liked the simplicity of it, I wanted a fetus to be the same as a born baby, a being that had its own existence outside of its mother, something it was easy to want to protect. But until it's born, it just doesn't. It can't. You can't untangle the needs of the two, and hard as it is, it makes ethical and medical sense to prioritize the life of the woman over that of the fetus when you have to choose.

I think that's the real nub of the struggle; women having worth. Women being people with lives and rights that must be protected even when hard choices need to be made. Even when people would prefer their fantasy of full-term baby that could be saved to the reality of a terminally ill or dead fetus.

Our laws, religions, culture weren't built on the assumption that women mattered and we still will choose almost anything, including fantasy infants, over them.
posted by emjaybee at 12:59 PM on January 31 [28 favorites]


The thing about the anti-abortionists is they have built a narrative where they are the heroes because they “give voice to the voiceless”. Anyone who disagrees is supporting the murder of babies and what kind of monster kills babies?

It’s quite the armor they’ve built for themselves.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:09 PM on January 31


Nah, just ask them what they're doing for the babies after they're born.

The rhetoric does do one significant thing: tap into the frantic need of evangelical women to believe that motherhood is this holy obligation that should be the highest concern of the state. It's a necessary bulwark against the fact that their culture actually considers them disposable toys and servants, barely human.
posted by praemunire at 2:24 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


I don't do the prayer thing much but one each for this family, the doc, and the med student on rotation is well and truly deserved.

I'm so sorry our system forces this to be any harder than it already has to be.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:37 PM on January 31


French Fry, I am sorry you have been through this too. I had a sImilar experience and would not wish it on anyone. I'm deeply pro choice, and I also mourn the baby that I lost. It was both an abortion my partner and I chose, and at the same time a loss of a very wanted pregnancy. Choice but no free will indeed.

My partner and I had to travel nearly 1000 km because the hospital where I live doesn't do abortions past 13 or 14 weeks. However, despite having to travel, we were lucky to deal with a very compassionate medical team and funeral home (we chose cremation and had a private ceremony). Our hearts were already ripped to shreds; how much worse it would have been to deal with cruelty and judgment on top of that. Still, I'm selective about who I tell, and in fact this is the first time that I've named my pregnancy loss as termination under my regular username on Metafilter.

But I think it's time for me to talk about it openly, to show that I am also one of the faces of late term abortion. I undertook the decision to terminate my wanted pregnancy not lightly, but with deliberation, forethought, and the knowledge it would change me forever. Permanent sadness, but no regret.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:07 PM on January 31 [15 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:36 PM


I woke up at 5am this morning thinking about this article, and was unable to go back to sleep so I just got up and started my day.

I will be glad I read this eventually, but for now and for a while it is haunting me. Especially the part about rolling away from the needle and what followed. Given that I'm just someone on the internet that read her article and feel this affected, I can't imagine the pain and grieving that T.S. Mendola carries. I hope she is surrounded by love and support at all times.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:19 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


I keep wondering what she would have done if they had not had the $11,500 to pay up-front for this procedure, and then my vision goes red around the edges with rage at how this country hates women so very, very deeply.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:38 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


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