I had a late-term abortion procedure.
Although I’m a very private person, I can’t keep silent any more.
I’m mad that there are women who are not told the truth about abortion. I’m furious, actually. I saw firsthand the destruction caused by the lies about abortion.
After my baby’s heart stopped beating late in my pregnancy, I was sent by my doctor to an abortion clinic in Los Angeles to have the procedure known as a Dilation and Extraction. I had no idea beforehand that my doctor had sent me to an abortion clinic. There were no “tells” once I arrived since it looked just like a regular doctor’s office. The name “abortion” wasn’t anywhere on any placards or brochures. You can call me naive, but my husband and I were in the haze of grief and some things may have gone unnoticed. It wasn’t until I left the first day of the two-day procedure and was approached by protesters outside of the clinic that I fully realized where I was. I realized I was going to go through the abortion process (except that my baby’s heart had already stopped beating).
We spent that night on the phone talking with my doctors and our insurance company, trying to convince them to send me elsewhere. I was already distraught over the loss of our child and I couldn’t even fathom delivering in a place designed to end babies’ lives. In the end, I had no choice. The doctors would not refer me elsewhere and I was told I would get sick if I didn’t go through with the rest of the procedure the next day. In our grief, we were unable to think clearly and find a way to fight this. So with great trepidation we went to the clinic the next day, albeit numb and in a state of shock.
I was ushered into a waiting room where the other women sat as they waited to go in for their procedures. It was just us women – no friends, support partners, or nurses. It was a closed room and we were free to talk. They shared their stories and their reasons for undergoing their late abortions. I was the novelty in the room – the only one there who didn’t choose to be. There was an air of calm and friendliness among them. As I sat there, my mind raced as I tried to find the words to beg them not to go through with it. But, it was already too late. They had already had the shot to stop their babies’ heartbeats. Their babies were already gone.
One by one, we were called into the operating room. When it was my turn and I was prepped for surgery, the doctor spoke to me in a kind voice and intimated that all would be just fine once this was done. I imagine he told all the patients that. The nurses smiled at me and patted my hand to reassure me, soothing me with their gentle eyes.
When I woke up in the recovery room, it was to the sound of weeping. Gone was the air of easy calm among us. The things I heard from the women surrounding me were unimaginably sad. I could hear the shock in their voices. The regret. The pain.
“I want my baby back! I just want my baby back! Please!”
I spoke to the girl who said this, telling her that her baby was in heaven. She didn’t have to worry for him. But how flimsy these words must have sounded in the face of such a situation! A woman is told that her decision to end her pregnancy is brave. Strong. Wise. The easiest option. The right choice. HER choice. These words, fashioned into soft scarves, pull her into a clinic that claims to stand beside her. But as the girl next to me laid there on the bed, those silken words hardened into stones that now pelted her. Those words mocked her pain, proving false in the face of reality.
A nurse heard my words and stepped between us, shutting the curtain to block our interactions. I felt the censure in the brisk, loud snap of the material.
The woman behind the curtain wasn’t the only one affected by these misleading narratives; the cries that I heard from the others around us told me that they too were reeling because of them.
After the recovery room, we were led to a separate room where we had to wait an hour before we could be released. We were all writhing in pain, but the best that the nurses could offer was Tylenol. Gone were the friendly smiles from the surgery suite. We felt like we were now annoyances, begging for relief when they couldn’t give us any. We received choppy answers, were told we needed to be quiet, or were simply ignored altogether. Yet another lie revealed itself to these women: abortion IS extremely physically painful, especially in the later stages.
What happened to these women matters. They didn’t enter into that clinic under the assumption that they were putting themselves at great risk of lifelong psychiatric disturbances including suicidal thoughts, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and depression. Neither my admission nor discharge paperwork mention the possibility. It also failed to mention my increased risk of infertility and miscarriage with future pregnancies. I believe that the real risks (of which these are just a few) are buried under language crafted to hide the very real devastation that abortion can cause women. Pain is called “discomfort” and sadness and depression aren’t even mentioned (which is ludicrous as they are very aware that the manipulation of hormones stemming from ending a pregnancy through delivery or abortion puts patients at a very real risk of postpartum depression). It seems almost criminal to forgo the mention of this to women.
Let’s set aside any discussion of culpability for the time being and focus on the fact that there are systemic lies that persuade women that abortion is not murder, and that it’s relatively easy and not unbearably painful. My experience at the abortion clinic that day introduced me to the very real anguish that abortion brings to women. I truly believe that several of the women at the clinic with me that day would not have entered the clinic if they had received a thoroughly honest portrayal of abortion.
I will continue my fight to get this truth out. We all must do this. If we really care for women and their well-being, they must know about abortion’s lasting and traumatizing effects. There are people that want to “defend women’s rights to make their own health care decisions,” and yet they want these women to make these decisions based on false or half-hidden information. This is neither loving nor honest, at best. There is indeed a war on women, but it’s being waged by the very ones who claim to love them most.