Health Care

In their own words: Three stories of abortion

In spite of being in an all-time low, abortions are still a highly demanded health service.

According to a study by the American Journal of Public Health nearly one in four  women in the U.S.  will have an abortion by age 45.

“Statistically this means that everybody knows somebody who had an abortion,” said Jenn Stanley, journalist and host of Rewire’s podcast about abortion called Choice/Less.

Here, three women share their stories.

In general, CU-CitizenAccess does not quote or cite anonymous sources, but in this case, given the sensitivity of the material and women’s request that their last names not be used, we are only using their first names. The editors have reviewed the materials from the interviews and are confident of the authenticity of the women.


See all stories: 

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Data shows wide variations access to abortion clinics nationwide

While abortion clinics diminish, crisis pregnancy centers flourish

In their own words: Three stories of abortion


 

NICOLE

Nicole was 22 when she had an abortion after finding out she was pregnant for the first time.

In 2008, three years later, homeless in Las Vegas, dealing with addictions, and after getting in and out of the jail a couple of times, she became pregnant again.

She then went to a public library to use a computer and search for a clinic to get an abortion.

Found one in Southridge, called and made an appointment.

When she arrived at the location and thinking that she was getting into an abortion clinic, Nicole ended up in a CPC. “It was in the same lot as the abortion clinic, literally in front,” she said. According to Nicole, everyone was wearing scrubs and it resembled medical facility. The staff refused to tell her the cost of an abortion until after the ultrasound. They didn’t reveal they were not an abortion clinic. “I had no idea I was in the wrong place,” she said to me during a conversation through Facebook Messenger.

After getting the ultrasound, Nicole said the staff of the CPC had her watch a video and talk with a counselor, who showed her baby dolls as if her not yet 10-week pregnancy was so advanced that the bay would look like one of these dolls.

“They didn’t bring up the pro-life angle from when I walked in or before the ultrasound. They didn’t make me watch the bullshit ‘abortion scars women’ video up front. If they had done that in a different order, I would have walked straight out the door. They timed it just right so I ended up being there almost 3 hours and missed my actual appointment,” she said.

Nicole left and went back to the actual clinic the next day.

In her own words:

“When I explained my no-show, the staff was like ‘oh, don’t worry, it literally happens 30% of our new patients.’ They were nice enough to bring me back and do a dating ultrasound (early ultrasound aimed to establish how advanced a pregnancy is) even though I wasn’t on the patient roster. They didn’t charge me either.

I was 8 or 10 weeks. They told me the price ($550) and I was gobsmacked. I remembered it only being $350 from a few years prior. I didn’t even have half. They told me to call NARAL and see if I could get some emergency funding to cover the other part. I spent the next couple days on a borrowed phone spending hours waiting on hold. Nobody ever answered. 

I went back and begged for anything, any other resources, anything, and they said they couldn’t help me.

Now, I went back one more time, I was 2 weeks later and I had gotten almost $400 of it together.  I don’t know what I was expecting them to say, but it was my last attempt. They said the price goes up $150 every additional week.  And in the second trimester, it goes to $1800 and then $2400 by week 16.”

Nicole couldn’t afford it. She ended up having the baby and giving him for adoption.

MARIE

Marie is 25 years old and lives in Beaumont, Texas, with her husband and their two children.

In June this year, she found out she was pregnant. She and her family were not ready for a third child, she said to me in an email interview.

Her decision, backed by her husband, was to get an abortion.

Then, as many women do, she Googled to find a clinic.

One in Beaumont popped up. By then she was about 2 or 3 weeks pregnant.

She called, but no one answer. After that, she found out that the clinic had closed in 2014

The next closest was one in Houston (Texas). Since she was nervous and scared, her husband called and made the appointment.

In her own words:

“My husband (and kids) drove me to Houston after the appointment was made the previous day.  He parks and sits in the car.

There are security guards that help us park and check IDs before entering.

There was someone in a rainbow vest there to assist me in the building. Once there, I checked in. It was about two hours total. I had to go through different people. They gave us a number and that’s what they referred to us by.

 The first step was to do an ultrasound. I then had to urinate in a cup. I had to wait for the next step. They stuck my finger and collected a drop of blood. They checked my blood pressure. They made sure I was also pregnant. (Checked my urine)

I then had to wait to talk to a counselor so they could make sure I knew what I was doing. And I was done with that part. (Day 1)

 The next day, I go in (with a little bit of the same processes as above) and wait. I think what made it a little bit more traumatic was that my file was misplaced. So there are hallways filled with chairs and all these girls are being called in rooms and there is a constant flow of traffic. And it’s all for different things. They are all at different stages of the process.

I ended up sitting there for 3 hours. I was scared to speak up, but I eventually did.

I immediately got seen by a nurse. I was asked about future protection. They offered birth control. I was told how to take the pills. There was one I was going to take in front of the doctor that day and another to take the next day. I was given a bag of pain relief and the pill for the next day. I was then taken to the doctor’s office and I took the 1st pill. I left.”

Including days off work, the clinic bill and the gas, it all cost around $1,100.

KIERSTEN 

Kiersten is a 32-year-old health consultant and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

She found out she was pregnant in 2011. Back then, she was 24  and in college, while working full time. She immediately decided to get an abortion.

She had a talk with her boyfriend, who was the father, and he supported the decision.
“There was never a moment of hesitation,” she said to me in an email interview.

To find a clinic, she googled “abortion providers” and ended up calling a Planned Parenthood clinic.

In her own words:

“I went to the clinic after having to drive past protesters. After a short wait (15 minutes or so) I was called to go in the back. My vitals were taken by a nurse and then I had a counseling session.

She was very kind and professional and asked me how I was feeling, if I had any questions, if I was unsure about my decision, the reason for my decision, what type of relationship I was in (if any), if anyone was forcing me to make this decision.

 I believe that’s all she asked. She approached this as a “friend/counselor” ready to talk with me and make sure it was really what I wanted. I let her know I was not having any hesitation, that this was unplanned after failed birth control, and I was not married or in a long-term relationship with the father. I told her the father was supportive

 After that I was brought to an exam room where the doctor (also kind and professional) asked how I was doing, also made sure this was what I wanted to do, and performed a non-vaginal ultrasound. Before that, he said that State law requires he conduct an ultrasound, and that I can have the option to see the fetus or not. I said I do not want to see it so he turned the screen away. He verified my gestation as within (but barely) the range for a medically induced abortion and explained how the pills would work, how to take them, and what to expect.

 Afterwards, I went back to the room where the nurse took my vitals, she gave me the pills and went over the instructions and care plan. She said to call in case certain symptoms appeared, or bleeding was excessive. She also made a follow-up appointment for I believe 2 weeks later and said someone would be calling me within a few days to check on me. I took the first series of pills (I can’t remember what they were) in her office.

 After my appointment, I went home and took the 2nd series of pills.

Over the next 4 hours, I bled like a very heavy period and passed several clots. I went to sleep that night and had more bleeding the next day like a very heavy period to the point that I called out of work. I was fatigued and had some cramping but the whole experience was fairly mild.

 I was never upset or emotional. The portrayal by activists makes this seem abnormal. Now that I am married and 9 weeks pregnant, I see that MOST women approach the first trimester of pregnancy, even those that were planned or wanted with the same amount of detachment and logic because the chance of miscarriage is so high.

I think this is important to draw this distinction because it challenges the narrative by pro-life activists that women regret and get ’emotional’ over their abortions. Some do, yes, but most women approach that first stage of pregnancy with a level of detachment.”

The abortion took place when she was approaching the 9th week, which is the last one to get a medical abortion (pills).

She and her boyfriend paid for the abortion of their own pocket. It was about $500 total.

Ramiro Ferrando / For CU-CitizenAccess

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