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Thursday, March 3, 2011

245

Ask an Abortion Provider

Hello! I am a person who is training to become an abortion provider. As you can imagine, it is really fucking weird to be one of me, especially lately! I think maybe you have some questions?

1st question: Why?

I can pretty safely assume you have not socially encountered one of us before. No, not because I think you’re not cool enough! Let me explain. I went into healthcare in general because of a bunch of shitty gynecologists growing up who told me, for instance, that “when you” (me) “have sex with so many people” (I, like, halved the real number) “so young” (18) that “none of them care about you” (me). I figured the most direct way to ensure that there wasn’t a total asshole at the bottom of the table was to do it myself.

But why abortion, then? State-of-abortion fact storm forecasted for this paragraph. How many providers do you think there are in this country? Like, total. 30,000? 10,000? Nope, fewer than 2,000. Here’s a quote I read today: “Now only 2 percent of ob-gyns perform half of all abortions. Many are approaching retirement. Others are weary of stigma, threats and violence. The number of providers has declined by 37 percent since 1982.” Fewer providers in practice mean fewer people to train from. And other factors — like how only 12% of ob/gyn residency programs require training in abortion — also contribute to our dwindling numbers. So, this time, it was seeing that the most direct way to ensure that anyone — anyone!! — was at the bottom of the table was to do it myself.

There was also a personal reason. On the way to providing abortions (president!) I became a person who has had one (also a member!). In December 2006, at age 20, some wayward jizz from a guy who was still a virgin put me up the stick. That’s right — CONTACT PREGNANT — the statistic, 1 in 1000? Whatever. Let’s just say I took one for the team. Hearing those sighs of relief, first 999 of you reading this! Everyone else: you are at risk. The whole thing went well with no complications and a lot of support from the people around me. The only hitch in the procedure was when I told the doctor about my long-range dream to become a gynecologist and how I had wanted to volunteer there and now, ha-ha, I was a patient. She listened with all of her heart minus the part that governs word choice and then told me that she was proud of my aspiration. What oh. Aspiration like goal! My goal. Of becoming a provider. Not aspiration like an abortion! An aspiration abortion. The kind I was getting.

I was able to move on quickly. The dude forgave me for my method of breaking it to him, which was asking “So, do you want to see what a positive pregnancy test looks like?” and stuck with me. We got engaged this past November. I finished college, got into a grad program to become a nurse practitioner, and four years to the very day of my own abortion I assisted for the first time on another person’s. I have no regrets, and although I’ll never know what could have been PSYCH I do know what could have been! The dude and I would have broken up and I would have not finished college let alone grad school, and I would have been a fucking disaster of a mother, because even now the best I can promise to a child is to be convincing enough that they can't tell I secretly wish they were an adult instead.

I speak of my abortion as a positive experience, not to secure the “most awesome abortion” prize (hello judges...?) but to save a seat for the possibility that this doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life. I don’t want it to in any way represent anyone else’s experience or make them feel disavowed of their own. So let me say: this is my personal experience with abortion! It was positive in every respect. It made me want to help other people also have as positive an experience as possible, so I went into the business. If you think that’s a bullshit line, or it makes you uncomfortable to think about abortion as something that could possibly be positive for a person, think of why you're a person who doesn't want someone to do the best that they can under the circumstances they're in.

2nd question: What’s it like?

Abortion training in this country is basically done by “apprenticeship” — if you’re an MD/DO, you’re supposed to learn in residency, but as we saw that doesn’t happen so often, so there are organizations like Medical Students for Choice to connect people to training or fellowships like the Ryan that you can take on in your own time. As a nurse practitioner (or a PA, or a midwife) what we’re allowed to do depends on where and when we’re practicing. We can provide medication abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol) in 15+ states but surgical abortion in far fewer, even though the actual procedure is exactly the same as other ones (like completing a failed miscarriage) that are solidly within our scope of practice almost everywhere. This is basically because the world is a vampire, sent to jail. The actual hands-on training is straightforward, because first-trimester surgical abortion is a very technically simple procedure. Completing 100 to 300 procedures is considered achieving competency, and the reason it takes that many procedures is because complications (like infection) happen so infrequently that it takes that many to see even a single one.

When I started I knew intellectually that half the country wished I hadn’t gone to work that day and a smaller percentage probably wished I hadn’t even woken up, but pro-life was never part of my life until I actually took on the job. The idea of “sin” had eroded out of my parents’ Catholicism so that the only part they passed on was the punishment style (“I want to let you know that if you have sex you can get a yeast infection in your eyes and you would deserve it”). I am lucky to be training in a liberal Northeastern state: the biggest impact of "antis” on my training is that I have to bring my lunch every day because it’s not really a good idea to go outside more than you have to. The protesters only figured out that I was a clinician-in-training and not a nightmarishly fertile young woman by my 3rd or 4th visit, and when they called me “babykiller” I was like “No way, I’m still working on ultrasound technique!” A couple weeks later I finally got my shit together to look directly at them and I saw that they were (a) a scraggly group of five or so and (b) all old white dudes, historically the least likely demographic to spiritually or morally lead me. Relief!

I had spent most of my life thinking that “following politics” was like being the sports fan who makes sure to watch every game her team plays and always wears the jersey on gameday. Yeah, I want us to win too, duh, but you know, does it really matter if I’m sitting there? I’ll check it out if they get to the playoffs or whatever. But now that the news is me I understand the value of a stupid tie with team colors. I saw that South Dakota bill and I cried. I wanted to call up my friends and say, “Hello! So, at least a couple people in South Dakota want to make it so that it kind of wouldn’t be illegal to kill an abortion provider. Like, me, your friend who does abortions. I’m an abortion provider and I’m your friend. So it would become legal for someone to kill me, your abortion-providing friend. So please, please, please help me do something about this.”

Up until recently I’d come out of any closet I found myself in — queer, non-monogamous, I fucking love Tool still, whatever — not that I live to hear the drink-choking sound, but because, to me, coming out was just one of the ways I could pay back the privileges that had been arbitrarily bestowed upon me (educated! white-appearing! “normal!”). My responsibility to normalize as much as I could. But training as an abortion provider is the first thing in my life that I hold back on spilling about. At the core of it, there’s a huge gap between saying “I had one” and saying “I do them.” I don’t want to alienate people. And nothing else I’ve ever done or been has felt like a direct invitation to a motivated someone out there to kill me and get away with it.

3rd question: What about the patients? Like, who are they?

I can confidently say that not a single one of my patients wants to be there. If we somehow removed the emotional content and just looked at everything else, abortion is an experience that is at least a little physically painful, and expensive both financially and in time investment. The process of obtaining one is full of bullshit even under the best of circumstances. Please see hilarious Onion articles “I’m Totally Psyched About this Abortion!” and “New Law Requires Women to Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion.”

Nobody wants a fucking abortion or at any point in their lives thought, “Oh, who cares, I’ll just take care of it.” Not even the woman on her tenth who said to me when I came in the room, “Hm, I haven’t seen you before! You must be new.” I am going to tell you that having 10 abortions is extremely rare, but I am also going to tell you without even starting another sentence that it doesn’t matter how rare it is because there should be no hierarchy of abortion. On demand, without apology? Great, I’m glad we all agree. It all breaks down to this: no one is immune to mistakes, whether it’s a mistake of their own making or (more likely) an end effect of the system, especially our fucked-up broken medical system I hate representing. (Sorry, system! Had to say it.) If you think I am making too many excuses for my patients, I will let you know that I am often one of the first people to make excuses for them in their lives and am happy to do so for no fee whatsoever. I would juggle speculums if they asked. I have not yet been asked to do this.

Additionally, the women who come to terminate their pregnancies at my clinic and in general are disproportionately poor. Is this because poor people are disproportionately stupid and can’t use a condom or don’t believe it works or whatever? Nope! It’s because poor people are disproportionately fucked by the system. I could tell you things that would make you SO MAD but I won’t. OK fine, I will, just one thing.

If a patient who has just gotten an abortion wants an IUD — the most effective form of birth control, little chance for user error, good for five or 10 years depending on which kind you get — they have to come back for it, not because there’s any clinical reason to wait, but because Medicaid doesn’t cover two procedures in one day. Most of the time the way this ends up breaking down is they come back for their follow-up appointment, then again for a pap smear/pelvic exam to “clear” them for the IUD, then one more time for the insertion. All to make sure it gets covered. And also please don’t get pregnant at any point in that month-long process where you don’t have your preferred method of contraception because then the process repeats. Man, are they ever stupid not to pay for it themselves with the five hundred dollars they allotted that year specifically for that purpose! I wonder what else they’re dumb at.

But “the remorseful patient” is the only patient whom your nice-but-then-surprisingly-conservative aunt is going to be like, “Well, I mean, I don’t believe in it, but if she was really sorry. And if she was married and it was crazy how it happened.” If you need help recruiting your aunt and others who are not quite on board with us no-hierarchy-of-abortion people yet, try my favorite fact for this situation: 65% of women who get abortions in this country are already moms! Smile, there’s a 65% chance your mother chose abortion because she wanted to make sure she could take care of her already-existing children, i.e., you. If that doesn’t work, take the “trend” angle and say how more evidence is showing that contraceptive sabotage is part of domestic violence. And just as no one is immune to contraception just straight up not working, no one is immune to those probably-apocryphal “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” stories, so encourage their recounting and then bring it on home. Should these women be forced to have a baby, too? I’ll be seeing both of you at the potluck next week!

4th question: What is the craziest thing you’ve encountered?

Every day I have gone into the clinic I cannot help but feel I'm working with the heavy shit — high drama. Not just the threat of violence and the content of the work but the fact that the news has a way of showing up in your waiting room pretty much daily. I shall call this place that is so dense with significance “Nightmare Town.” Which includes pro-life patients! Yes! They too get abortions! I will tell you the story of the one who was my patient.

I was with the doctor I train with doing the initial steps of an intake — an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and a full history.The patient says to the doctor, “I should not be here today. I agree with the people out there.” Gestures out window to street. The people at the bus stop???? “The people who are protesting. I think what you are doing is wrong. I think you should be killed.” Oh. Whoaaaa!

Dr. S does a clinical version of “Werewolf-ing Yourself” which consists of extensively documenting this woman’s ambivalence in the chart, alerting the counseling staff to a patient who would require a lot of support and quickly peacing out of the room before she voiced any of the many justifiable but possibly hurtful words that could come in response to someone looking you in the eye and telling you that you should die for what you do. The only thing that she did say before closing the door was to me, and it was “Your turn!” This is because my secret healthcare superpower is invulnerability to other people’s cognitive dissonance, no matter how profound.

So I told my patient what I truly believe, which is: “I’m so sorry that you feel that way because feeling that way has got to make this an even harder decision than it already is. I imagine it must really feel awful to think that you have to do something that goes against your own beliefs.” (Secret inspiration: my own feelings about the situation!) “I know there is no way you're going to go home feeling you did the absolute right thing no matter what happens today. We are not going to do any procedure until you are absolutely certain that this is what you want. I do not want you to have an abortion. The only that I want you to do is the thing that is most right for you, whether it’s continuing this pregnancy and becoming a parent, or adoption, or abortion.” Then we brought her with her boyfriend to the counselor who talked with them for hours about the spectrum of resources available for not just abortion but adoption and parenting. At my clinic, we joke that we turn away more patients than the protestors do. And although she did end up terminating the pregnancy, the procedure went well, there were no complications, and she told the staff we had been the “most supportive!” I personally thanked her and told her it was an honor to be there for her and still get teary when I think about it. Ice burn, Lila Rose!

Another visit to Nightmare Town. One week, on a Monday, I read about the Burris Amendment, which was an amendment to the defense bill that would have let soldiers have abortions in military facilities overseas. I read “Current law bans abortions in most cases at military facilities, even if women pay themselves, meaning they must go outside to private hospitals and clinics — an impossibility for many of the estimated 100,000 American servicewomen in foreign countries, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.” It was struck down. Couple days later one of our patients was a soldier from Afghanistan. Hey, I was just reading about you guys.

No contraception around (she was stationed pretty far out) meant that she got pregnant. "Regulations require that a woman be flown home within two weeks of the time she finds out she’s pregnant, a particular stigma for unmarried women that ends any future career advancement." Ends any future career advancement. For my patient, that meant that she had to figure out how to make it back to the states on her own. Even if she had chosen to “go straight,” it wouldn’tve been much better: “Servicewomen who make the decision to have an abortion must first seek approval from their commanding officer to take leave from their military duty and return to the United States or a country where abortion is legal.” (Guttmacher.) Ask your boss if you can please take off a while for your abortion. And no matter what, she had to pay for it all herself. So even though she knew she was pregnant almost immediately, it took eight weeks to make arrangements, travel plans and raise all the money. That means by the time she walked in our door, she was beginning her second trimester, which is a way more expensive and invasive procedure. She also had to spend eight more weeks than she had to miserably pregnant. In Afghanistan.

Her procedure went well with no complications (notice trend) and before she left, Dr. S took her hand and said, “Thank you for saving us out there.” She responded, “Hey, thanks for saving me over here today.” As I watched them the thought that someone somewhere had to be scripting this appeared and then immediately burst. Here's the policy that you can get pissed about, and now here's the person you were pissed for. I see a lot of people get frustrated and huffy about stuff, and you can, but then you have to promise to actually do something about it. I have the privilege to be reminded that this is someone’s life, not the New York Times Most Emailed Article. And it is an honor to be reminded. It makes me work harder. Being an abortion provider has meant that I drive home from work knowing I did something, actually everything in my power, to support people who needed it. It’s a privilege and it’s fucking awesome.

Dolores P. is most of the way through training as a nurse practitioner. She has probably seen at least 1,000 vaginas. She's also into reading, driving very fast, and penpals:  intrauterinista@gmail.com.

Photo via the Wellcome Library.



245 Comments / Post A Comment

Lily Rowan

Thank you so much. Both for your work, and for this article.

saythatscool

There's an Family Planning place not too far from my home, it always makes me laugh when the protesters throw eggs at the building.

But that's just me.

juliec

This was an amazing read. Thanks for the insightful perspective and setting the record straight, Dolores.

mathnet

Wow. I'm glad you wrote this and I'm glad I read it.

gimlet

This was incredible. The amount of brains, guts and sheer grit it must take to do what you do is amazing, and I'm so glad you shared your story.

Is it weird that I don't know you, but I feel somehow proud of you? There's no basis for this, really. I'm just so happy you exist.

applestoapples

"I speak of my abortion as a positive experience...to save a seat for the possibility that this doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life... If you think that’s a bullshit line...think of why you're a person who doesn't want someone to do the best that they can under the circumstances they're in."

Thank you for all of your insight, Dolores, but especially this.

laurel

Yep, that was the part where I got goosebumps the first time.

nice_belt

spiralbetty: THIS

MoonBat

Hard to find an "especially this" within such an incredibly well-written story from an obviously amazing person, but yeah, ditto. Standing ovation, Dolores.

km1312

This is sosososo great.
Dolores, you rock for your work, and for having such an awesome sense of humor about it.
Hairpin, thanks for publishing! Would love to see more "Ask A [healthcare provider]" in the future, as it's so damn difficult (and often, expensive) to get a simple medical question answered these days.

hykuw

Dolores, thank you for sharing this!

amuselouche

This was so great. When I think about the amount of ignorant/patronizing OB GYNS I've run into (like 90% old white dudes) it just makes me so crazy, especially on behalf of all the women who don't have my resources to just say "fuck you" and walk away. So yay for more medical professionals like you!

*Seriously, when I went in for a pregnancy test years ago the guy kept referring to me as "Mommy" the entire time. I was 18. And clearly would have had an abortion if it had been positive.

hopelessshade

@amuselouche I cannot construct a comment about this that accurately describes my seething reaction to your experience.

mmwm

"my secret healthcare superpower is invulnerability to other people’s cognitive dissonance, no matter how profound."

I wish this were all doctors' secret healthcare superpower. Or at least one of their superpowers. Or abilities at all.

DoctorDisaster

For a while there, I was thinking, "I should train to be an abortion provider!" But then I thought: "Doctor Disaster, abortion provider" and it sounded too much like a Chick tract. (Also I know absolutely nothing about medicine.) This was a fantastic article anyway.

fairlyalarmed

I'm really happy that there are people like Dolores out there in the world. Truly.

"...and although I’ll never know what could have been PSYCH I do know what could have been!" made me laugh about a subject I don't find all that hilarious, so props.

Internet Girl

That was my favorite part too! I hate hearing "waaah waaaah what about THE UNBORN CHILD'S LIFE???? WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN???"

"What could have been" is that the woman in question (full grown, actual person) could have been really unhappy with her life!

noodge

amazing article, amazing work. we <3 you.

C_Webb

You are made of awesome. Be well and safe, and help others be so as well.

Argyle

This was super profound and honest and thank you for writing it, especially for us folks who have struggled with our views on abortion throughout the years (though now consider ourselves pro-choice). I think the bulk of pro-lifers out there would be really moved by Dolores' story.

Bittersweet

I am pro-life, and was very moved by Dolores' article. Although I really struggle with the ethics behind abortion, I recognize that in the end it's all about people trying to figure out the best thing to do with their lives.

thundacunt_1

awesome article.

i fall into the 65% of women who are already mothers. the fact that people are trying to take this option away from women all together is terrifying. i could be living in the projects with 6 kids now and living off the goverment for every single thing. instead i have 3 beautiful children that i love and that i work extremely hard everyday to take care of. i vowed never to be like my mother with 5 kids and not enough money. when i found myself pregnant again when my son was barely 3 months old i felt i had no other option. its never an easy decision. its one i think about often, but never regret. thank you for voicing the other end of the procedural relationship.

winchesterwolcott

And...whenever people use the line, "What if your mother had an abortion?" Well, she did, and I probably wouldn't be here if she didn't. She wasn't ready to be a mother, and if she went through with the pregnancy, she probably wouldn't have met my father. People need to do what's best for them. That includes women.

anna to the infinite power

I want everyone I know to read this!

City_Dater

Wonderful writing!

If I knew you, every day I would hug you and say 'thank you.'

DorothyMantooth

Many, many thanks to you, Dolores.

abigail

Fantastic!

McFly9

As someone who reluctantly had to have this procedure done this very week, and who saw this headline and felt sick, because I didn;t want to think about it anymore, thank you Delores. It's weirdly the first time I've not felt awful in weeks about it. Thank you for your courage, and for making me feel like it's okay to laugh to get through this. (and if this somehow links to my fucking facebook, can the admins just delete it? thanks. I am not as brave as Delores.

blee

Thank you so much to The Hairpin for publishing this and thank you to Dolores for writing it!

laurel

Dolores, in addition to being clear-headed and funny, you write really well.

LizHo

This is the most moving article I've read in weeks. Months? A really, really long time. Thank you, Dolores.

Maven

Thank you--this was a great read and I am so thankful that providers like you are following YOUR consciences so that abortion remains available and safe.

cherrispryte

This was amazing and good and thank you so much, Dolores, for doing what you do.

eatflambefuck

You...... I cannot fathom anything related to what you are saying... but its hilarious? I want to be your best friend so you can give me advice? Mainlz I like how you rationalize yor decisions.... it makes me feel a lot more comfortable with my own decisions.

Now...... I just want to say... I feel like you are totally pro people if not pro life/.... and I think pro people is totally cool.

abbyjean

thanks very much for writing this. it was an amazing, insightful, and very moving piece.

in the past, i've donated to medical students for choice in an effort to support students like you who are training to provide these essential services. i'm curious if they've been a resource or support for you or if there's any other suggestions you have as to how to best support students training in this area.

finally, i wish you hadn't used the term "crazy" to describe the drama, tension, conflict, and fear both you and the patients experience when seeking abortion services. as people with mental illness are disproportionately victims of sexual assault and rape and thus part of the group potentially needing these services because of system failures, it's unfortunate that this piece used that term to perpetuate stereotypes that reinforce those system failures.

katypie

@Riff Randell
"This was incredible. The amount of brains, guts and sheer grit it must take to do what you do is amazing, and I'm so glad you shared your story."

I totally agree. But it makes me really fucking sad and angry that it should have to take guts and grit to do Dolores's job in a developed country (or at least any more than any other medical practitioner needs to have).

I'm a Kiwi. In NZ abortion is legal and we don't really have much of an anti-abortion movement (that I'm aware of). When I was 3rd year at uni my flatmate had an abortion - it was a really emotional and difficult decision, as well as being an emotional and difficult experience for her to go through. I can't really imagine what it must be like going through that in a country where abortion is such a dirty word to so many people, where you have to pass protestors to get to the clinic.

Lily Rowan

And that's IF there's a clinic near you, which there probably isn't. Sucks.

Heidi

I love it, and am so glad you wrote this, and it is here. And I wish more people had your courage and were willing. I asked my OB recently what I have to do if I needed to terminate my (planned, wanted) pregnancy, and he basically said (though not in so many words) that I'd be SOL because no one in his group is trained properly.

But...one tiny nitpick...in the sentence "Smile, there’s a 65% chance your mother chose abortion because she wanted to make sure she could take care of her already-existing children" you make it sound like 65% of mothers have had abortions, not that 65% of women who've had abortions are mothers. which is different. Sorry, I know, I'm an a-hole for bringing it up, but I've too many times seen people either (and this is not what you are doing, obv) purposefully obfuscate a statistic to make their point stronger (boo) OR risk rhetorical takedown from people with different views because they missused a statistic.

diane47

Thank you for doing what you are doing. I wish I had the dedication to start medical school or a nurse practitioner program at my age because I have thought many times that I would like to do this.

I know you will have bad days sometimes and I would like to offer you a heartfelt thank you any time you have one. Come here and we will thank you, or I'll send you my email address and you can write me.

nonvolleyball

chiming in to agree with all the accolades above; this is amazing–-funny, uplifting, moving, tragic, fascinating…everything. thank you for writing it & sharing it with us.

throwaway style

thank you. seriously, just thank you.

workerbee

growing up in Dr. George Tiller (RIP)'s backyard, I have always been interested in the "how" of abortion - the apprenticeship, business, and healthcare provided. I would love to hear more from Dolores P. - and I'm sure I am not alone. The internet is flooded with anti-choice messages when you google "abortion..."
Let's hope Dolores' message can reach those men & women who need answers!!!

blee

Also: is this going to be a recurring column? Because I can help if people have questions about abortion funding and some other things! A non-relationship advice column might be a cool thing.

abortioneers

LOVE this idea, please yes? UM or maybe you & I should discuss, bthny? We've got the internet at our fingertips, after all!

Lariope

Thank you for this.

itsamilagros

Dolores, this article is fantastic. I too would like to show this to everybody, particularly pro-lifers, because how can you dispute such factual and quality work?

I hope this is a regular column!

Marley0510

Absolutely amazing article! It's nice to know that someone can talk about what it is like having an abortion and being a provider. I feel better knowing there are people in this world like you :)

Jane Anger

I realize that the author is rather young, and that perhaps the target audience for this piece is also very young, but this is just so badly written. I found it difficult to get past the first two or three paragraphs. This is composed in the style of a video blog or Facebook post, complete with constant parenthetical tangents, fragments, and the, like, totally annoying use of the word "like." It reads as very juvenile and thus undermines both the seriousness of this subject and the author's (laudable, amazing, appreciated) devotion to women's health and self-determination.

Also, the diamond ring ad I am seeing to the right of this piece is offensive and patronizing.

melis

Oh, is this the place where we complain about targeted ads and other things outside of the author/webmaster's direct control? My monitor isn't bright enough. Can someone fix this?

Brunhilde

My internet is being slow. Can you speed up this site a bit please? Thx.

nice_belt

lulz!!1! Jane-- youre such a troll girlfriend zOMG!

brakattack

Is it a bad thing to approach a somewhat clinical piece using a conversational style? It worked for me anyway.

Also it's sort of shitty to suggest the piece is poorly written because of the author's age. If my math is correct, she's in her mid-twenties. That's young-ish, sure, but she's far past juvenile! I doubt Edith is all that much older than the author and she's clearly doing just fine in the writing department. If you don't like the piece that's cool. Just don't be such a dinosaur about it.

Finally - can someone please explain to me how something can be written in the style of a video blog? I have no idea what that means.

littlestar

Juveniles are not allowed to have a view or valid points to offer? If they giggle while they talk I bet that makes it like, super invalid huh?
You must think the Libyan youth sending messages pleading for help and telling of their suffering in their cellphone textspeak are REALLY undermining the seriousness of their situation. I mean, don't they know only grammatically proper sentences are meaningful?

PMS
PMS

There's no need to attack Jane because of her opinion. It's just that the breezy style

..."undermines both the seriousness of this subject and the author's (laudable, amazing, appreciated) devotion to women's health and self-determination."

She's agreeing with the article in content, just not in execution.

theinvisiblecunt

Jane Anger, did you abort your sense of humor?

thundertheft

Question: If the first paragraphs were so terribly written, why did you keep reading?

haynesholiday

Jane Anger, as music critic, reviewing a Bill Withers track: "I realize that Mr. Withers comes from a lower-class economic background and thus lacks the ability to write in proper English, but would it have killed him to simply say 'There is no sunshine when she's gone?"

Bobly

The author's voice is that of a self-absorbed and insipid 16-year-old. It's grating, and I can barely believe it's written by someone old enough to be a doctor.

Still, God bless her for the good work that she does.

null

Thank you for writing this and being you, Dolores. And thanks to the Hairpin for publishing this.

Mariajoseh

This was very hard for me to read.I am pro choice, but I really seriously dobut that MY choice would be to have an abortion. I also have no idea how hard would it be to do it in my hometown, a quite conservative state in Mexico where it's only legal to have one if you were raped or if the pregnancy is life-threatening.
Anyway, thank you very much to Dolores for writing this and to The Hairpin for publishing it. Reading this was really important to me.

Snoclone

Well you hit the nail on the head. It is YOUR choice. Not the state's, not the church's, not the psycho with the poorly spelled signs outside the clinic, it is yours.

michelleO

Great read!Now I'm gonna go watch Schindler's List and laugh at all those stupid assholes! Awesome!

melis

Yes, Nazis could be aptly described as "stupid assholes," among other things.

likethestore

Thank you for what you do and this amazing article. I am freaking blown away by that statistic - only 12% of ob/gyn residency programs require training in abortion!! I would have thought that was just a normal part of training to be an OB. But I am Canadian and maybe it's different here.

modernlover

I looked it up! A 2006 study (based off an anonymous bilingual questionnaire) found that at least 97% of residency programs in Canada include abortion training, and that abortion training is considered routine in approximately half of programs and elective in half. The majority of residents (71%) participated in abortion training, and half of them plan to do elective abortions after residency.
(I got all this from a study called Abortion Training in Canadian Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Programs by Roy, G.)

fictitious

Truly amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. It's so easy for me to be blindly and smugly pro-anything while I'm sitting in my easy chair, but you've really had the courage of your convictions. I'm comforted knowing that you'll be at the end of the table to help anyone that needs it.

michelleO

except for the baby in my womb that you melt and or vacume out of existince!

ohyaknow

How do you melt a baby (technically fetus), michelleO? Can that be addressed in a follow-up article maybe? "Abortions- Not all Death Rays and SuperLasers"

theinvisiblecunt

michelleO, because your comment is fucking stupid I'll bust some facts all over your face for the good of humanity: somewhere between a quarter and a third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Often, this happens so early on that women don't even miss a period from the pregnancy. Implications:

1) If you're religious, your fictional god is the biggest abortionist of all time.

2) Embryos are probabilistic entities that shouldn't be considered human, come the fuck on.

The coopting of the natural, normal, and common procedure of miscarriage for the benefit of real women is a logical extension of our approach to health care. Example: we have isolated the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and sell it in capsule form to assist those who want to sleep. Sorry if your middle school education hasn't allowed you to grasp biology yet! Here's hoping it'll make more sense once you've got more life experiences under your belt, like menarche and algebra II.

contrary

"2) Embryos are probabilistic entities that shouldn't be considered human, come the fuck on."

THANK YOU. I know it's a little different for me because I'm an obligate scientist, but your womb is full of gestational cells. YOU make the call on referring to it as your child.

BTW michellO, the cells are aspirated. Not melted.

theinvisiblecunt

Oh, contrary, word~ all I'm sayin' is that if more people understood quantum mechanics, we wouldn't even be having this debate right now

foxanne

logical extension of our approach to health care, hell yes.

also, "menarche and algebra II" ahhaha

Lindsay Simms@facebook

@fictitious Well you can't really "vacume" (perhaps you mean 'vacuum'?) anything out of existence. For one thing, if the embryo were vacuumed, then it would still exist, just in the vacuum bag. Where do you think all the dust and dirt from your carpet goes? Fun little fifth grade science lesson commencing in 3...2...1... That silly law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created, nor can it be destroyed. You can't just suction something out of existence. It's not physically possible. Sorry, love.

The rest of you touched very nicely on the rest of the points that were streaming through my head.

Dolores, I was deeply moved by this article. I've known for years now that I want to pursue a career in medicine, but I'd always been considering expanding the field of young adult oncology. Your article moved something inside of me. I don't know if it was the pro-choice, feminist liberal stirring, or a side effect of the 4mg of Dilaudid I popped half an hour ago (so roughly 4am) due to the debilitating pain of my recent surgery (which had many more risks than an abortion), but your article moved me in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time; I felt like something was just right for me. Maybe I'll go into providing abortions, maybe not. I'm not really the biggest fan of vaginas, but I've always been the one holding my friends' hands as they got their first pap smear, or hid their birth control and condoms at my house, because they were terrified that their strict Catholic parents would find their contraceptives, and never let them leave the house again.

I will live a life that is far more dangerous than it should be if it means that I can provide women with the freedom to choose what's best for them, in a nurturing environment that won't condemn them for their choice, whatever it may be.

But seriously, vaginas are pretty cool, but they're really fucking gross.

lagreen

As so many others have said, thank you so much for this post, both to Dolores and thehairpin. I have adored this site since the "Women Laughing Alone with Salad" post, but this one made me sign up to comment. The women on here--the writers, the commenters--thanks for always brightening my day. And once more thank you to Dolores for the idea that an abortion doesn't have to be "the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life." I swear that possibility didn't occur to me (a progressive and pro-choice woman) before I read your words.

soulgirl

THANK YOU!!!!

I am in my mid 30's now. I was left no choice but to have an abortion when I was 18. I was in a terribly abusive relationship, the guy was also a drug addict. I was scared, lonely, heart-broken...the list goes on. It was possibly the worst day of my life, but I made the right decision, for the baby and for myself. If I had the child, I knew of no guarantee that it would not be dragged into the same abuses that I was living in.
FFWD to now. I am pregnant, absolutely ecstatic, with an amazing man who shares an incredible love already for this child that has not even been born yet. I cant wait until our baby arrives in this world! The due date is very close to the same day as my abortion 19 years ago and I now know that I can have some happiness instead of sadness on that day of the month.
I am so glad to hear things from your perspective and know 1st hand that there are caring and amazing women taking care of terrified girls/women having procedures that they wished never would have happened!

littlestar

This is so great. It makes me so happy to see all the positive feedback you're getting here as well, so you can feel the thankfulness to make up for some of the shit you have to take. Keep on doing what you're doing girl, you're doing it well.

hungrybee

Dolores, it is an inspiration to me that you do this work with such dignity. Keep holding that head of yours high! Edith and company, thank you for being a platform for Dolores to share her story.

nadie

"I have the privilege to be reminded that this is someone’s life, not the New York Times Most Emailed Article." that. thanks for doing what you're doing.

mouthalmighty

Thank you for this - all of it, everything, thank you.

tiny dancer

It is absolutely infuriating that many med programs do not offer abortion training. We had med students come to train with us at the clinic where I worked. But it was a large city and imagine all of the other students that might not have those resources (and keep in mind this is a legal procedure, geez).

Also, I once had an experience with a protestor that came in for a procedure and said it was okay for her but not for anyone else in the waiting room. UGH where do you go with that?! You did a better job with your "pro-lifer." Anyway, I wish you much luck out there!

theinvisiblecunt

Thanks to you too! The utter hypocrisy of anti-abortion protesters is common and expected: check out the only moral abortion is my abortion if you haven't already.

noplacetosit

Thank you for sharing about your experiences. My feelings around abortion are ambivalent, but my feelings around hate and cruelty are not. Your ability to provide such awesome care to the woman who said she believed providers should die is inspirational and amazing. As a nursing student myself I am excited about all the amazing people I know and see going into the profession. Please be careful.

wev
wev

As one who knows what illegal abortion is like for a terrified teenager because I had one in 1952, I want to beg for a world that values the lives of women and girls and does not pass laws which absolutely insure that more unwanted children are born, that trap more women in cycles of poverty and abuse, that take us back to those excruciating and dangerous days. I've had many years to think about that kitchen table, back alley, dirty, expensive and damaging abortion and, painful and unhappy as it was, I do not regret having it. I regret the need for it and the circumstances I endured.

Since that time, I have seen the introduction of the birth control pill, the triumph of Roe vs. Wade, civil rights legislation, Title X, no fault divorce--and I have seen the push back, the assassination of a doctor at his own church on Sunday morning in America. Terrorism against women. Push back.

I believe with all my heart that what is needed is safe, legal abortion on demand everywhere there are women. Let us work together to insure that every woman is free to choose, that every child is wanted and that every family can afford to care for their beloved children. That's pro-life in my book; that is right thinking and morally responsible. I support women and I trust women. Anyone who does not is part of the problem.

Bless all the young medical professionals who are today standing up for women. Without women, there is no civilization. To employ an old saw in a new cause, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

nandeboleine

It is a shame that you had to go through an illegal abortion, but I want to point out that no child is unwanted. Just because her/his parents don't want to keep the baby doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of families who would love to take care of that potential child; also for many of these families, domestic adoption is the only practical or affordable option.

theinvisiblecunt

Haha WRONG because if that were true, the world's orphanages would be empty but they aren't. There are already millions of kids that already exist who aren't being taken care of by those hundreds of families; the argument "but the adopters are there!" could be just as easily used to justify puppy mills

nandeboleine

I'm a little concerned that you feel it's appropriate to begin your entry with "Haha." If the situation is as dire as you seem to agree with me that it is, we should probably not laugh about it.

theinvisiblecunt

Hahahahahahahaha except again, you dwell on irrelevant window dressing (four characters of laughter, reflecting how funny I think that blatant misinformation was) while the important part of that message–there are sooooo many unadopted children growing up in orphanages, yo, no shortage here or there or anywhere on earth!–goes neglected.

major disaster

@theinvisiblecunt: I notice this is a pattern, not just here, but with concern trolls in general. nandeboleine asks questions and demands answers from us, but won't grant us the same courtesy when we ask the questions. I asked what I think is a legitimate question down below (re abortion vs. blood and kidney donation) which she has conveniently ignored.

theinvisiblecunt

Hahaha, yeah, I noticed that exact same thing reading over the replies: you made some really important points (and did it much more succinctly than I) but I don't structure my casual internet posts like formal essays submitted for grades and sometimes I curse and stuff so I'm an easier target to reply to when your argument has no substance and you just want to bitch about technicalities. ;D Plus, note that your response to this very topic gets ignored. Haaa~~

major disaster

@nandboleine: Whether this is true or not (and it's not), it's irrelevant. The only thing that matters is whether the potential baby is wanted by the woman inside whose womb the pregnancy occurs. And it's not the responsibility of women who are able to get pregnant to provide children for people who aren't.

wev
wev

Sorry, nandboleine, but the daily newspaper in any large American city is full of stories of unwanted, horribly abused, neglected and hated children. They are not infrequently killed by their mothers, their fathers, their grandparents or babysitters. If you know anybody who actually is willing to rescue and dedicate themselves and their resources to caring for a single one of those endangered actual children please put them in touch with social services in the nearest large city today. The children and the mothers could use some help. When we fail those terrorized and virtually hopeless children, all the canned rhetoric, so routinely employed to shame and intimidate women and to discourage their access to reproductive services, rings very hollow.

tiptoemammal

UH-MAZING!!!! Wow. I just realized I've never heard from an abortion provider before! This is so important; why do we never hear from the providers? We never hear about abortion from the perspective of someone who is trying to give real care to women in life altering circumstances. It is just such a game changer, and I suddenly wonder why I have never considered going into this field myself? Brav-fucking-vo, lady.

Claire Zulkey

Amazing piece. Thank you. I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and made my husband read it and I'm proud to be married to a fella like him who also agrees how important this is.

Paige Brown

Awesome article, but: The fact that "65% of women who get abortions in this country are already moms" absolutely does NOT imply that "there’s a 65% chance your mother chose abortion." That's like saying "90% of murderers rode bikes when they were kids, so there's a 90% chance that your bike-riding kid will grow up to be a murderer." An easy mistake to make, but just incorrect math/logic.

thundacunt_1

who jumps to that conclusion?

abortioneers

Many things:

1) This was more or less the best article I have ever, ever read about what we do. And I manage a blog about what we do. From one abortioneer to another: thank you, thank you, thank you.

2) Hope you don't mind us linking to it on facebook, twitter and the blog. We rilly rilly want to.

3) Add me to the list of people who wish we were friends with you in real life.

4) For whoever asked where are the voices of the providers — I know! And that's why we have a blog. Not trying to shamelessly plug, it's just totally relevant — please visit http://www.abortioneers.blogspot.com and come hang out with us, read about the daily ins and outs, and talk to us about it all! And then tell your friends and relatives and neighbors that you have it on good authority that we're not shadowy monsters. For other providers' stories and interviews, you can visit http://www.prch.org or read "This Common Secret" by Susan Wicklund or "Abortion at Work" by Wendy Simonds.

5) Paige Brown and Heidi are right about the 65% statistic getting scrambled in the second half of your comment about it, but the first part's accurate (61% of abortion patients already have kids). Also, if that is the only flaw of this whole article, I mean, how many articles in the history of ever can claim that?

6) "I am the first person to make excuses for them in their lives." Yes. "Here's the policy that you can get pissed about, and now here's the person you were pissed for." Yes. "And nothing else I’ve ever done or been has felt like a direct invitation to a motivated someone out there to kill me and get away with it." Yes. "Which includes pro-life patients! Yes! They too get abortions!" Yes. "No hierarchy of abortions." Yes. You see where this is going. My brain, you are inside it. Well, no, people like us just are living the same joys and challenges all across the country, I guess. I say these things to people over and over but they always need to be said another time. So, yeah, thank you again, from the bottom of my goddamn heart.

Kind Regards,

placenta sandwich
Founder
Editor
VP, Dept of OMG I Wish I'd Written That
http://www.abortioneers.blogspot.com

spiraloflife

Thank you for posting this-- it's so important to get perspectives like this out there. Abortion providers AREN'T just trying to eat your unborn babies!

AntiSlice

@theinvisiblecunt
I'm at the tail end of a class on probablistic methods, and seeing "embryos are probablistic entities" may have made my night.

kafine

Thankyou for this article. As unpleasant a prospect as abortion is, I have always believed that it is necessary if women are ever really going to be regarded as human, and not sub-human, or human-unless.

The fact that if I find myself somewhere I could not get an abortion, one cockup (which might be my boyfreind's, and not mine!) could mean I lose my human right to decide what happens to my body and my life... this terrifies me.

contrary

Thank you for doing what you do.

Tracy

I feel the same way that lagreen did, "I have adored this site since the "Women Laughing Alone with Salad" post, but this one made me sign up to comment." This was a very moving article. I hope Dolores continues to contribute.

nandeboleine

Dear Collective Wisdom: I would love to be highly informed on this subject, because it is important to me to support equality for all people/souls. However, there are many questions and ideas that prevent me from being able to get behind the pro-choice standpoint.

First of all, I have a difficult time understanding why it's ok to terminate a pregnancy without consent of the father. Doesn't every embryo come from two zygotes?

Second, what is the problem with requiring pregnant women to go through counseling/view an ultrasound before terminating? I understand that it's a difficult enough choice without that, but what if the counseling and ultrasound were not intended to prevent the abortion but to drive home how serious the choice is and thus discourage the woman from getting into the same situation again (assuming she had consensual sex, although many pregnancies caused by rape stem from high risk behaviours that the woman could avoid).

Third, does the domestic-violence-contraception-sabotage really happen all that often? The only similar situations I've ever encountered (and I have seen it happen many times) were cases of the woman sabotaging the contraception --poking holes in a condom, not allowing the man to pull out, flushing their pills. Why is there a double standard against men?
I would appreciate real consideration of my questions from people who are able to stretch their mind to consider multiple viewpoints. Please don't just assume that I am "anti-choice" and slam me. I am asking to be educated in order to fight my own ignorance.

Penny

I'm not an expert either here, but I will try to begin a discussion about your questions.

1) The mother is the one who has to carry the fetus to term, birth it, etc. Her body is infinitely more involved with the pregnancy than the father's. I understand this is a simplistic answer, but perhaps it's a start.

2) I think you've answered your own question. Having an abortion is already an exceptionally difficult choice as Delores' article makes very clear. Forcing women to view ultrasounds etc. assumes that they do not have the intelligence to make decisions on their own. There are many other reasons, but again, this is a starting point. Also, the connection between rape and "high risk behaviours" is completely and utterly false. I don't want to dive into the deep end on this one, but your information about rape is seriously outmoded. Rape happens everywhere, and to anyone. No buts about it.

3)I have no idea what the statistics on this are. However, Delores' point seems to be that women can be very easily forced into a pregnancy against their will. Any supposed "double standard against men" is beside the point. Women become pregnant under all sorts of circumstances, and Delores' point about "no hierarchy of rape" is especially relevant here.

Hope that helped.

nandeboleine

Thanks, Penny. It honestly doesn't help much, as I have previously considered all the points you've made here. Having been pregnant myself (and VERY pregnant at that--twins!) I fully understand how the woman's body is involved. However, you do not take into account the possibility that some people believe that the body doesn't belong only to you, but is shared with those people with whom you have sex. Also, some people believe that it is shared with the [potential] baby. Yes, under traditional gender/sex definitions, many women can get pregnant, while men can't. Why can't these women understand that we are child-bearing creatures and accept that fact? That's part of who we are. It sucks that we have to menstruate also, but we don't see people fighting for our right to not have a period (except for those who profit financially from the certain BC pharmaceuticals that attenuate or prevent menstruation).
I think it is more harmful to assume that all women DO have the intelligence/maturity/responsibility to make decisions on their own than it is to provide the information just in case they aren't. I think too much information is usually less harmful than too little.
Maybe you do not see a connection between rape and behaviour/situations, but from my personal experience and that of people I've known, many rapes could have been prevented, even without 20/20 hindsight. Maybe my info is "outmoded" -- after all, it's been over eight years since it happened to me, and now we have smartphones and Twitter -- but I think that I would still make the same choice now as I did then, and that choice was not to terminate the pregnancy. And now, the children I already had at the time are beautiful, intelligent young women, and the child with which I was pregnant is part of a family who love and cherish her. I'm so glad I didn't abort their daughter!
I don't think there is a hierarchy of rape, nor should there be a hierarchy of abortion -- it should definitely be the mother's choice. However, we should also take into account the many men who are forced into pregnancies/fatherhood. I would never want to make that choice, not even for my own daughters. I appreciate your time, but I still maintain my questions, especially the second one. This is too serious of an issue to be taken so lightly by so many people.

theinvisiblecunt

"However, you do not take into account the possibility that some people believe that the body doesn't belong only to you, but is shared with those people with whom you have sex. Also, some people believe that it is shared with the [potential] baby."

Some people believed the earth is flat but their mistaken beliefs didn't flatten this shit out, it's still round as fuck!

"However, we should also take into account the many men who are forced into pregnancies/fatherhood."

Nah I'm pretty sure no men are ever FORCED INTO PREGNANCY, I'm pretty sure that never happens. Forced into fatherhood? That's a bad thing, but once an actual living baby is present, it needs to be taken care of (and often isn't; men skip out on child support and parenting all the time). Why eliminate the ability to prevent that kid from happening? If there were a way for that to happen, I'd be totally in favor of i--oh wait there is and it's called abortion. There's an argument you're working here between parallel situations that don't actually affect each other: because men can't skip out on fatherhood (except they totally can and do), women shouldn't be allowed, but that's illogical. You say women need to accept the fact that we can get knocked up, so I know gender inequality by way of biology is totally cool to you, and the exact same situation is at work here:

a. only women get pregnant
b. therefore, only women can get abortions

I mean, if you want the guys to have a consolation prize, they get prostate stimulation, soooo

theinvisiblecunt

Correction: "because men can't skip out on fatherhood of an actual human (except they totally can and do), women shouldn't be allowed to skip out ON PREGNANCY of a theoretical intermediate involved in the creation of a human" (and it's still illogical)

nandeboleine

Gender inequality is not ok for any reason. However, the ability to bear children is not an inequality, it's a difference. What I do believe is that irresponsibility resulting from a sense of entitlement is dangerous.

theinvisiblecunt

Gender difference. It's a gender difference that women can get pregnant, so it's a gender difference that only women can get abortions to remove the contents of the uteri that only women have.

wev
wev

@nandeboleine, I am one who initially received your comments with a grain of salt, as it were, wondering if perhaps you really were a troll. Now I think it just might be that you are using many of the same phrases and rhetoric that activists who oppose women's choice also use. I don't think you know how they sound to other women who have done a lot of work to find their own feminist voices.
It might be of use to you in your contemplation if you explored some feminist sites and learn more of what women say. It took me a great many years to learn to trust and listen to women. It was considered mandatory to deny being a feminist in my circle in younger years. Perhaps you're more influenced by men's rights to really hear what women are saying.

I'm suggesting this because it was at a feminist site that I read a revelatory and heartbreaking thread written by women who did not have an abortion but who chose to put their baby up for adoption. There were a great many tears among the writers and readers over the days and weeks of that whole discussion. I respect your choice to do what was right for you but I also think that you haven't got much understanding from others about how utterly painful that choice must have been. The fact that it was right for you and that it turned out well for the child and her adoptive parents does not really address the separate private pain of your choice or promote the healing that needs to take place. The pain of the choices we have to make in life because we are women (and yes, because we are people) is very real and often needs to be shared and consoled.

I hope you let go of what seems to be the judgments of women you have accepted truly because they are part of the very air we breathe and that you can find a sisterhood among women who respect one another's choices and support one another in all our beautiful diversity because we are after all more alike than different. There are plenty of feminists who do not choose abortion!

theinvisiblecunt

1) Wrong, the zygote which eventually develops into an embryo comes from two haploid sex cells. A small error, but your fundamental ignorance of the biology of pregnancy doubtlessly contributes to your anti-abortion beliefs. Between a fourth and a third of pregnancies end in miscarriage: termination of a pregnancy (to repeat an earlier post) is natural, normal, and common. The zygote and embryo are such uncertainties that they are as much a "baby" as sperm and eggs are on their own; the only difference is that the baby-developing events have been kicked into action with the formation of the zygote, but it is the eventual development and growth of these gestational intermediates that leads to a baby. To equate the end result (baby) with these early intermediates in the womb is completely illogical (like saying step 2 of a 20-step synthesis of a molecule is identical to the end product!), and the only reason this meme is so widely spread is because of ignorance and the agendas of people who want sex to have consequences so they can control it.

The pregnancy doesn't affect the guy's body so it's totally fine to terminate it without his consent. When you fuck, you don't enter into an unbreakable contract to forge a baby! Fortunately, he can make more sperm and more zygotes so it's not even an issue

2) Condescending, time wasting hoops to jump through drive home the point that abortion is more serious choice than it really is. It's not that big of a deal, it doesn't interfere with your ability to get pregnant at a later date, and as mentioned above, EMBRYOS ARE NOT BABIES. The longer it takes to get that abortion, the more morally ambiguous, expensive, and painful the procedure is. Abort at week 4? Miscarriages are so common that the embryo is not positively viable. Abort at month 4 because you had to find the time and money to get through a billion arbitrarily required appointments? Now it's a tougher decision that the lady wouldn't have had to make in the first place if she had just gotten the procedure without condescending bullshit

Nobody needs to discourage a woman from getting knocked up accidentally. That's like saying you need to preface a visit to the dentist with horror stories about wisdom tooth removal so they don't just pop in to have an expensive, invasive, painful procedure FOR FUNSIES~!!!~!~!

3) No double standard: as soon as medical science gets sci-fi enough that men can get knocked up, I promise you we'll fight just as valiantly for their right to terminate their unwanted pregnancies

I have to go to work now so this was kinda rushed by I hope you can consider multiple viewpoints yourself, especially considering this one is based in fact instead of bullshit religious anti-science propaganda

major disaster

The problem with requiring pregnant women to go through counseling/view an ultrasound before terminating is that it is imposing requirements on a medical procedure that we don't impose on any other medical procedure, solely for political reasons. For everything else, we trust doctors to provide adequate information to allow patients to make the choices they need to make. There are plenty of medical decisions that are more serious than whether to get an abortion, and we don't allow politicians to impose restrictions on who, when, and how those decisions are made.

"some people believe that the body doesn't belong only to you, but is shared with those people with whom you have sex. Also, some people believe that it is shared with the [potential] baby. "

Well, "some people" believe a lot of crazy things. That doesn't mean we make it the law. Question for you, nandeboleine - do you believe the government has the right to coerce a person into donating blood or a kidney to another person in order to save that person's life? Because guess what - we don't allow that. You cannot be forced to donate a part of your body, not even blood, not even if it's for your own child, not even if you are the only person who is compatible, and otherwise that other person will die. So why should a fetus be allowed to do that to a woman by living inside her body, taking resources from it and potentially causing great risk to her life and health?

nandeboleine

I don't understand why you suggest that what I wrote (which may not even be my own opinion--I might be just considering someone else's opinion, or I might even be playing devil's advocate in order to facilitate more conversation) is based on religious anti-science propaganda. Like you said, some people used to think the earth was round. Those people were considered scientists of their time. I don't know that it's productive to discuss the mutual exclusivity of religion and science here, but just to let you know, I am NOT anti-choice, I am not a right-wing conservative (I'm assuming that's what you think, so sorry if I'm wrong about that), and I am not one of the people who think having sex is sharing sovereignty of your body. However, those people DO exist, and you can't compare that belief of theirs to something that is empirically provable, such as the shape of our planet. The belief that the body can be shared is just that, a BELIEF, or an opinion, what have you. It's not an empirical, universal truth, and I do not present it as such. However, it IS the sociological truth to many people, and those people are humans too.

theinvisiblecunt

Let me make it as explicit as possible so you don't have to argue against positions I wasn't making in the first place: people are allowed to believe that they share themselves with others during sex and live that way! But why the fuck ever would you think that is a position you can legislate? It's not. Planned pregnancies are all alike; every unwanted pregnancy is unwanted in its own way with its own complications!* That is, one might happen to a married woman with three kids who can't afford another, and she talks with her husband and they get an abortion. Another is raped, another is underage and she just broke up with the boyfriend who knocked her up, and many many many many many of these women discuss it with their partner and come to a mutually agreed upon conclusion. Abortion has to be a choice available to those for whom it is the best option.

The difference is that people who want abortions to be available want people to be able to choose that life, whereas people living that life want to restrict others' ability to pursue abortions. This is why I point out that those are just beliefs. I can say that everybody should listen to Metric because Metric is a cool band, but that's a belief that shouldn't be legislated.

*so you don't end up arguing with me because of linguistic flourishes again, I will point out that this is me jokingly paraphrasing Tolstoy. Okay? Not serious, a joke. Don'targueitwasajoke.

theinvisiblecunt

Oh, and
1) Anti-abortion beliefs are illogical from a scientific standpoint so it requires ignorance or aversion to science
2) It's heavily rooted in religious belief
3) Anti-abortion positions are most typically argued from a biased and irrational standpoint, so I'd say plenty of it is propaganda, like those anti-abortion protesters that use pictures of stillbirths and claim they are dead lil' babies killed by abortionists
So yeah, it's anti-science religious propaganda for a large part. That's just a fact. Is it always? No, but I never said it was always

nandeboleine

People do need to discourage women from getting knocked up accidentally. Not every woman is as educated, conscientious, and empowered as you appear to be from your writing. Many females of child-bearing age are very young, both emotionally and chronologically, and many are not mature enough to be able to make choices about sexuality. The young and the mentally ill, challenged, or emotionally immature are especially susceptible to unplanned pregnancy.

theinvisiblecunt

No, they don't, because as I said above, abortion is painful, expensive, time-consuming, and stressful and people don't seek out those situations. (Plus, that argument when posited by politicians and not excessively credulous adherents is disingenuous, because these measures are intended as nothing but extra hoops.)

You really can't approach legislation from the position that women are a bunch of motherfucking idiots and babies and dumbfucks who don't know what's best for themselves.

nandeboleine

At what point did I write that I was referring to legislation? I'm pretty sure that I wrote quite the opposite, albeit perhaps in a response to someone other than you.
It's a shame that you feel this angry, and I'd hate for you to experience more negative energy on my account (though hopefully you don't care that much about what I think to actually be angry). I apologize if I've offended you, but I hope that maybe someday you'll realize that you can't force your opinion on others, no matter how you dress it.

theinvisiblecunt

The "pro-choice standpoint" is all about legislation. It's not about whether you personally would have an abortion, it's about whether you want to deny other women the right to do so legally ("However, there are many questions and ideas that prevent me from being able to get behind the pro-choice standpoint.") or make them jump through hoops to do so ("what is the problem with requiring pregnant women to go through counseling/view an ultrasound before terminating?").

Yeah, my reading comprehension is spot on, you're just backpedaling. You did the same thing when you decided all of a sudden that you ~might be~ playing devil's advocate (coy smile~~~) even though you opened your first post explicitly saying you had difficulty getting behind the pro-choice standpoint, though, so it's not a surprise that revisionism is your go-to escape hatch! It's pretty funny that you can write so many words about a topic and understand so few of them, though, so there's that

I hope you realize you can't force your opinion about who women are obligated to share their bodies with on others, no matter how you dress it

theinvisiblecunt

Also hilarious is the way you had the balls to suggest that I was trying to force my opinion on others while advocating for the government's right to force your opinion on others; I liked that, nice touch

glencora

The problem (well, one of MANY) with requiring pregnant women to undergo counseling/view an ultrasound prior to terminating is that we don't counsel newly pregnant women that having an abortion is much less risky than carrying ANY pregnancy to term. You can talk about having all available information, but as a physician (I am a pediatrician, but I logged my hours in OB/GYN), we do have to pick and choose what is useful to tell people at any given time. I can explain to you every POSSIBLE side effect of every medication I prescribe, but I don't. I generally discuss the common ones or the ones particularly relevant for you, in your particular situation. This is for the same reason that I don't explain the POSSIBLE side effect of every bite of food you put in your mouth, or every bite you don't, or every choice you make all day. Of course you may say some of those things are small, or silly, but I have seen children choke on grapes (those are a no-no under 4, but people think I'm nuts when I say it. Nuts are also out, by the way). You can develop a food allergy at any time. Etc. So if a woman came to me to begin prenatal care for a wanted and overall normal pregnancy, even though I know full well it's to her medical benefit to have a prompt abortion, I will omit this piece of information.

That's at least part of the difference.

Penny

Thank you for writing this article. Thank you Hairpin for posting it. You've made me laugh so many times and now you made me cry. Best article I've read in quite a while.

mullenitover

Agreed, first time I've cried (in a beautiful, positive, this-is-so-right kind of way) from a Hairpin article. Thank you so much for posting.

abortioneers

1) "I have a difficult time understanding why it's ok to terminate a pregnancy without consent of the father. Doesn't every embryo come from two zygotes?"
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From two gametes, actually. The sperm-giving partner can stop at giving sperm; his body is never required for the sustenance of the pregnancy. So whether he "consents" to an abortion can't be the deciding factor in whether the pregnant person's body is going to be used to sustain the pregnancy. It's not about "whose" zygote/embryo/fetus it is, or whose genetic material is involved, but about whose actual body is being pressed into service. All people should have the right to decide whether or not to remain pregnant; NO person should have the right to decide whether or not someone ELSE remains pregnant.

2) "Second, what is the problem with requiring pregnant women to go through counseling/view an ultrasound before terminating?...what if the counseling and ultrasound were not intended to prevent the abortion but to drive home how serious the choice is and thus discourage the woman from getting into the same situation again"
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Women are generally human beings like you, and they think about important decisions in their lives without being forced to do so by the state. Speaking from experience — they usually have thought a long time about their decision before they make the appointment, and most often are sure about it before they check in. Not that counseling doesn't help anyone (see Dolores's story above, and many others). But the counseling we do at the clinic is very different from the "counseling" required by law in the states that have these laws. The state legislators write these (misleading, intended-to-scare-or-guilt) bullet points of information that must be told to the patient. We call this "the script" because that's really all it is, no actual exchange of perspectives is required. The lawmakers are not medical or counseling professions and yet they think they know how medical counseling sessions ought to go. Thank god we do our own, true counseling in addition, because I can firmly tell you that the state's version of "counseling" hasn't been of use to anyone.
Then, there are these terrible 24-hour "waiting period" requirements that usually go between counseling/ultrasound and the appointment. As we said before, women have already thought things through without being required to do so by the state, so this really only serves as (1) an insult and (2) a hardship to women who now have to come to the clinic an extra time and may not have medical leave at their work or are coming from far away and now need twice the childcare, gas/bus/taxi money, maybe a night in a hotel… It just is a barrier to getting abortion care in a safe, legal setting. Why do they want to push women to consider taking their safety in their own hands?

3) "...although many pregnancies caused by rape stem from high risk behaviours that the woman could avoid)."
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Okay, this? What? This is the kind of thing that would make someone ignore your humble request to be "educated" because they're too filled up with thoughts like "Holy shit, F this ignorant dbag". It seems like you need to educate your own self on facts about rape. For example, a fact: in the US a MAJORITY (like 60-80%) of rapes are committed in the victims' own homes and by a person they know; so should we never stay home and only talk to strangers? There are other facts out there too! So why would you want the state to script yet another insulting, traumatic script of mythical things a woman "could do" [and implicitly "should have done"] to avoid her own rape, when actually the one reliable way to prevent rape is to not be a fucking rapist?

4) "does the domestic-violence-contraception-sabotage really happen all that often?"
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Yes. In the time it took you to write this paragraph, you could have googled "contraceptive sabotage" and found four recent studies (and one much-emailed New York Times study), with statistics and everything, about this alarming form of relationship abuse.
At some point, asking to "be educated" (by people who are already quite stressed/busy trying to survive and retain their rights!) becomes a form of privilege because you HAVE the information in your reach and probably a good clue of how to find it, but appear to feel you don't need to do any of the work required to understand the world at your fingertips. But if you felt that way, then you wouldn't be saying that you just want to understand more. So try to be aware of when you're doing this and could avoid it.

5) "Why is there a double standard against men?"
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If by double standard, you mean that men aren't allowed to force their partners to have an abortion, then please see above, about how no one should have the right to decide whether or not someone ELSE will remain pregnant. That said, your man friends really got the shit end of the stick there, and hopefully are clamoring for male hormonal methods to make that final push to the marketplace, looking into reversible vasectomy, and figuring out how their partners managed to "not let them" pull out. Is that even a thing? Barring woman-on-top positions, which probably shouldn't be in play if withdrawal is the goal, is this actually physically possible? Someone Educate me here.

nandeboleine

Hi Abortioneers. I'm sorry that you seem to have taken my questions personally or misunderstood (it seems from your reply that you are involved in women's healthcare, so sincerely, good for you!) It's been over a decade since I took Biology, so thanks for the correction of gametes vs. zygotes -- my mistake. I certainly don't think that the father should be able to force a pregnancy on the mother, and that sort of thing should NEVER be legislated. I didn't intend to suggest that it be legally required, just that it be an ethical consideration to involve the prospective father--a "choice" if you will, to notify him and have an open conversation if practicable; that's all. By "ok" I just meant ethically, not legally.
I am very glad that you provided so much information about the counseling. I wasn't aware that it was a state-run thing like the classes you take when you get a parking ticket-how horrible! I do think that the health providers and clinic workers should be trained in counseling, if they aren't already, and that the patient should have to be seen by a trained, compassionate counselor (maybe we could encourage the government to support this) before and after the surgery.
You must have assumed I am male, to suggest that I not "be a fucking rapist" and that women are "generally human beings like [me]". I am female, and have been a victim of rape on two instances, both of which were by people I knew (one of them to whom I was married at the time), and both of them could have been prevented by my behaviour or my being more assertive/educated/mature. The second time, it resulted in a pregnancy; I carried that baby to term and gave her to a couple who could not become pregnant on their own. Yes, it kind of sucked to be pregnant for most of a year, especially since I already was a divorced mom with two babies and finishing up my bachelor's degrees, but I survived, and I was able to give the most wonderful gift imaginable. I know that not everyone has the health or the opportunity to do that, so I would never deny someone a chance to terminate her pregnancy; nor would I judge a person who chose to take that chance. I just pose these questions, because I want to have a dialogue with people who are knowledgeable and passionate, and I want to help people to think about all the ramifications of sex, womanhood, and related ideas.
I didn't do research on my own, looking up answers in journals, etc. primarily because I wanted to know personal experiences and thoughts of the people who care enough about these issues that they read and comment on articles such as this.

Bettytron

This is slightly tangential, but man, I'm really sorry you feel like being raped was your fault. I promise you that no change in your behavior would make those guys who were rapists into guys who were not rapists. It is great that you were able to give another family a daughter to adopt, and that something beautiful came out of such a horrible thing, but I sincerely hope that you don't believe you brought that on yourself.

nandeboleine

I'm a little confused by all the people who think I have blamed myself for being raped, though it is pleasantly surprising that there are sympathetic people who are here to do more than sling vitriol. Saying that I could have prevented something and saying that it is my fault are not the same thing. I do not think that it was my fault that two men chose to take advantage of me. However, had I not asked the first man for a ride home, alone, rape #1 would not have happened, at least not there and not then. Rape #2 would have been prevented if I had not insisted that my cruel, drug-abusing husband move in with myself and our daughters if I paid the bills. Neither situation was my fault, but both resulted from putting myself in a vulnerable situation.
Really, both situations contributed to my being current self and caring for people the way I do, so neither was a bad thing in the end. I made the right choice for ME at the time; I don't presume to make that choice for anyone else, but it is annoying that I am so often looked down upon because I chose NOT to have an abortion.

toodles

nandoboleine, the fact that you think you got raped because you didn't do things differently makes me sadder than anything else that's popped up in this thread. Neither of those incidents were your fault, at all, and nothing you did or didn't do would have had any effect on the inherent lack of humanity those men had.

If you take anything away from this thread, please let it be this - if you haven't already, consider talking to a professional about your experiences. It's a lot for anyone to go through and the fact that you're blaming yourself in any way suggests to me that you might benefit from speaking to someone.

major disaster

I feel like I'm a bit late to the party here, but I wanted to be yet another person who thanks you for writing this, and of course for doing what you do. I wish there were more of you, and I wish there weren't so many people out there trying to make it so difficult for you to do your job.

Sarah Gray

I was going to say more, but really I just need to say thank you. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jackie Dupont

@theinvisiblecunt and @major disaster: Thank you for all of your words, wit and humor! I hope that you are either considering to run for office or are already in office because we need women like you to help protect legislation that protects a woman's right to choose.
And Thank You Dolores for such a serendipitously timed article.

major disaster

Heh, thanks! Although I don't think you'll be seeing me in politics - I would be the worst politician ever. I would not last long before my contempt for the wingnuts would show itself. "Local candidate loses it in the face of questioning from conservative constituent. Story at 11."

punkythemonkey

This was an incredible article. Thank you for posting such a powerful essay. It's amazing that such a personal issue has had all its humanity sucked out and the only people in the stories seem to be the ones who aren't people at all: the fetuses (feti?). the providers and the patients are who we should be thinking and talking about. thank you for re-centering the conversation.

abortioneers

@nandeboleine

Hey, I didn't assume you were a man, just someone who was asking these things about abortion patients' lives and mentalities without putting yourself in their shoes. To tackle your specific points:

About rape: what Bettytron and Toodles said! It totally SUCKS that you experienced that, and sucks that you're shouldering blame for it when you shouldn't. I'm so sorry. I too experienced rape within a relationship, and it took me many years to stop believing what much of the world sort of forces into our belief system -- that we deserved it in some way by not having done things "right" somehow. It's a terrible way to feel and I firmly, deeply oppose perpetuating such myths. I didn't mean for you to think that I was calling you a potential "fucking rapist" -- I mean that only potential rapists can prevent rape, by not fucking committing rape. You know? Your rapes were the fault of your rapists. There are so many situations where we're damned if we do, damned if we don't (like my leave the house/don't leave the house example) that logically, there's no true way to "do things right" and assure we can prevent other people from hurting us. Rapists rape because they feel like it, not "because" of something we do to make them feel like it; they're responsible for their crimes, not us.

Earlier you wrote "some people believe that the body doesn't belong only to you, but is shared with those people with whom you have sex."
Yeah, and this is how husbands and boyfriends end up raping their partners. They have an attitude that sharing yourself with them once (or many many times) means you can never refuse sharing in the future, that you have consented once and now they are "yours." But anyone who says YOUR body "doesn't belong only to you" --- doesn't BELONG only to you!!! -- is in contradiction of globally stated human rights. If you believe that slavery is wrong, you probably also believe that YOUR body belongs to YOU. And only you. Right?

About decisionmaking: Your story about your pregnancy and subsequent experience with adoption is actually a really perfect example of what I was saying. Did the state have to pass a law requiring you to "think really hard about your decision" in order for you to do so? No way! (And by nearly all accounts, adoption is MUCH harder on MANY more women who choose it than abortion is on women who choose abortion [this is even echoed by women who have experienced both], so you'd think such a law would be even more justified if it was really about "important and serious decisions.") Would it have improved your life if the law required your doctor to tell you about ways to avoid being raped in the future? I seriously doubt it; if it had been me after my rape, such treatment from my healthcare provider would have crippled me with grief and outrage, and not prevented the continued sexual abuse.

Finally, about women sharing the decision with their partners: definitely, if you have a supportive partner with whom you share a lot of life decisions, it makes sense to share this too -- and MANY women do. But this is the same situation as with parental consent laws, which 35 of the 50 US states already have: most girls who have an available parent and a healthy relationship with them *already share this with their parents*; on the other hand, girls who have an unsafe relationship with their parents SHOULD NOT be forced to tell them (also, girls who are being raised by another relative or a step-parent, or who are homeless, get really fucked over too). So the laws are unnecessary in some cases and dangerous in the others. Same with a spouse/partner/one-night-stand: women should be trusted to judge for themselves whether sharing this decision would be appropriate, safe, and helpful...or not. Now that you responded, I understand you weren't asking about laws, simply chosen actions, and that's fine; just know that most women who HAVE a partner worth sharing the decision with are already doing that, simply because they want to.

Wait one more thing -- about contraceptive sabotage: Yes I could share some stories from counseling, and I see you want to hear about personal experiences. But I urge you to look up the studies because they are very interesting and talk about relationship correlations and risk factors that you can't discover by studying individual anecdotes. Additionally, some of the studies done have been qualitative, involving interviews with girls who have experienced it themselves, so you will see some of the data in their own words.

Sorry this is so long. Here's the bottom line: I respect that you have your own, plentiful experiences in your own life that you're speaking from, and for that reason you probably have plenty of experiential resources from which to empathize with women who chose a different course of action from yours!

Simon R Zimmerman

Hi Cuz - You're big balls are showing, and they're beautiful. An amzing article by Dolores - Very proud of you for publishing.
S.R.

Edith Zimmerman

Thank you SR! So glad you're reading. I love this piece so much.

Snowy

Hey, I just wanted to say I really appreciate this article. Thank you for writing this.

lulu

You are wonderful. Thank you!

EyeScream

@nandeboleine, At first I thought you were a troll of the derailing variety, but this just makes me sad. If you seriously believe that it was your fault that those men raped you, and that a woman's body – and by extension, your body – doesn't fully belong to her/you, that makes me incredibly angry – not at you but the system and people who made you feel that way.

If you haven't already come across them,there is a whole sea of people out there who believe that it was definitely not your fault you were raped, and that your body is completely yours, and that you shouldn't have to answer to anyone else for your choices, and that the same is true for all women. Some of us are right here.

I am glad that your questions come from a position of curiousity and not from a judgemental one. I hope you get the information that you are looking for and I highly suggest that you do continue researching as well as seeking out accounts of personal experience (as long as others are willing to offer them).

xtinar

Very brave post from a very brave woman. And it helps that she's hilarious. "I have no regrets, and although I’ll never know what could have been PSYCH I do know what could have been!"

I had an abortion two years ago and feel exactly the same way. For the week beforehand I lay in terror of all the guilt I was sure I would feel in the aftermath, and although the whole scenario totally sucked, I still consider it one of the best decisions I've ever made. (Which is kind of shocking to me considering I spent 12 years in Catholic school hearing about the Lifelong Scars Felt by Murderous Abortion Havers)

So thank you Dolores for your post and for your work. You rule.

AgingHippie

Thanks.

I'm the other you... Catholic guilt, love of sex, pregnancy at 19, ... But it was 1968, and abortions were not to be had. Instead, I downed an entire month's birth control prescription at once, took quinine because someone said..., fell down the stairs on purpose a couple of time, and finally, sat in the bathtub clenching a knitting needle bawling my eyes out when I realized there was no way out.

I never finished my education, I dropped out to get married and spent 6 years in a bad marriage before trading it for one that's been okay. I lived from paycheck to paycheck, and when the paychecks stopped, there wasn't enough money to keep food on the table or pay the rent, much less pay for medical insurance or save for my kid's college education.

Now, in my 60s, I often dream of what life might have been. So thanks. And if anyone ever tries to dissuade you, please, remember me.

Ione Rousseau

what y'all said.

uh huh

Deciding to have an abortion, for me, was the most heart-wrenching decision I've had to make, and was at a very low point in my life, but thanks to practitioners like you, the experience was as pleasant as a procedure like that could be. They were required to do an ultrasound, but I wasn't required to look. I did, I cried, and I knew that even if that little bundle of cells had a soul, my crappy life was not its destiny. I had been irresponsible and was not taking ownership of my body when I became pregnant, and I was also quite poor, so making the decision to terminate was step #1 of reclaiming my autonomy over my life and body. I don't regret it in the least. The nurse was very sweet and outlined my various options in a very non-judging way. The doctor was quick and gentle. I barely scrounged up the money for it in the first trimester and walked out of there broke, vomiting, but relieved.

I now have two beautiful children and the ability to parent them in a more thoughtful and responsible manner.

thursdaynext

Dolores, thank you.

It breaks my heart to see what is going on in America with the abortion laws. I had an abortion couple of years ago, and I can honestly say that if it hadn't been available I wouldn't be here. It just wasn't what I wanted, and with the hormones I was deep in suicidal depression.

The world needs more of you. Because things happen that you don't plan for, and it should be every woman's right to choose their own path in life.

tiptoemammal

@nandeboleine, some thoughts:

–It's great that you've learned in response to the tragedy of your rape to protect yourself; that you turned sexual assault into a life lesson. But that shouldn't be forced on anyone (we each grow at our own pace), and it isn't really relevant to a woman who needs an abortion. The doctor’s office is a place for medical advice, not lectures on life lessons. I highly agree that women and men deserve more education on the subject, though. It grieves me to see funding for education and other social services being slashed when we have so much to teach our population. Here is some info on rape that YOU can share with people to help get the word out:
http://www.raap.org/faqs.html
–Ignoring the question of legality, here is an alternate viewpoint for you to consider on the morality of abortion: It might very well be a terrible, awful thing to do. But in a crisis situation, which pregnancy is for so many women, the lesser of two evils is often the best choice. Only the person responsible for bearing the weight of that decision has the right to make it. I love my partner, but I'm not currently in a position to care for a child, and should our birth control fail (highly unlikely–we are VERY careful!) I would most likely choose abortion. I am an adult college student, and pregnancy to me reads like this: drop out of college and get on welfare to care for my child, or end my pregnancy asap and carry on with becoming a a productive member of society. The latter, in my opinion, is a FAR WORSE tragedy than an intentional miscarriage. As far as adoption is concerned: it doesn't make any sense to me to create, with my body, a child that I cannot care for, and then foist them onto someone else. There are *SO MANY* children in the world who need and are not getting the love and care of someone who is able to care for them. Why would I take up more of those resources when I have the ability to terminate a pregnancy and avoid creating an orphan?
I'm not saying that the decision would be easy by any means. I love my partner and would love to have a child with him. We hope to adopt one of those many unfortunate children ourselves someday when I have finished my education, and can begin the career I’ve chosen in the field of social justice. If we do not, though, that’s okay. I’m far more useful to the world in the capacity of a community psychologist than as a mother. And I’m certainly more helpful to the world as a professional working for social change than as a welfare mom. Abortion might be terrible, and I might do it anyways. We do this constantly in life: we kill animals (awful!) so that we can eat and not die (worse!). We test medicine on animals (cruel!) so that millions of people don’t die painful deaths (worse!). In these situations I am thankful as hell that I can pay someone to commit the awful deed for me, because I probably don’t have the guts to kill a cow or maim a rat, especially on a daily basis. It takes courage and conviction to be the person to do the dirty deed; to see the humanity in the inhumane.
Killing off some cells that could become your child? Not as bad, in my opinion, as the death penalty or war or lifelong incarceration for nonviolent crimes. Or as bad as ruining my life and the life of a child. As humans we’ve deemed it acceptable to violate the right-to-life of other creatures (including our own) when it saves the lives of others or is just generally convenient (or tasty). Surely my future is worth that?
–Not ignoring legality: the only reasons that have ever been presented to justify making abortion illegal or less available are religious reasons. I challenge you to name a single reason for making abortion harder to access that is not based on social mores or religious taboo. That’s all fine and good; it is society’s job to restrict behavior deemed unhealthy to society through use of mores and folkways. It is religion’s job to tell people what is right and wrong so it can take their money and control their behavior. It is not the government’s nor health care provider’s jobs to control behavior in this way. And of course, it is absolutely no one’s job to tell me what I can and can’t do with my reproductive organs or my soul. If I want to chemically induce my period to keep the cells in my uterus from turning into a human in there and draining me of my ability to live my life, that’s my right as a free human. And if doing so is a sin, it’s my choice to be a sinner. That’s between me and my god.
–My mom told her husband, my father, she was pregnant with me, and he got scared and took off. This was in the 70’s in the south so she didn’t have the option to run away. She was stuck being a mom to a child she suddenly hated. I refuse that position, and I refuse the lack of choice she had in the 70’s in the South. And as an unwanted, abused child who was a ward of the court by age 13? I can tell you a few things:
1. Being an unwanted child is fucking awful. Don’t ever make anyone be one.
2. If I’d gotten pregnant, by any means, as a teen and had to tell my abusive stepfather? I can’t even finish this; just NO. A girl doesn’t have to ask anyone's permission to get pregnant and she shouldn’t have to ask anyone's permission to get unpregnant. There is no one on this Earth worthy or capable of making that decision for another person, but especially not that asshole my mom married.
3.If I’d gotten pregnant as a ward of the state? Who would I even have asked? Who does an orphan ask for permission to not birth up another orphan?
–I’m sure you’d love to see education available to all women so that they don’t have to endure such a situation? Me too. But not as a requirement to get an abortion. We need education on sex and birth control available in every school and every household. Again, it’s horrifying that education and other social services are losing all funding in this country. That is a sure way to guarantee more unwanted pregnancies. If you want to see less abortion then forget shaming women who are already pregnant into not having them. Become a fierce advocate for sex education and birth control. Start by calling your representatives and telling them that Planned Parenthood, the only source of sex-ed and birth control for most of the country, needs their funding back ASAP! (And seriously I need a pap smear and I don’t have insurance.)
I am so glad that you are tackling this issue and confronting your own feelings on the subject. As I learned when canvassing for RAAP ages ago, you can’t blame people for not having the correct information on a subject. Just get them better information. Of course the first place to start is with oneself, and I admire your decision to do so. Good luck on your journey.

tiptoemammal

Oops! I messed up. I said,
"drop out of college and get on welfare to care for my child, or end my pregnancy asap and carry on with becoming a a productive member of society. The latter, in my opinion, is a FAR WORSE"
The former!!! The FORMER is worse! Obviously.

Chuck

I feel a bit weepy! Thank you for writing this and for doing what you do. It is a wonderful thing. Go you!

h_jack

Wonderful read, Dolores! I had an abortion at 22 (am 28 now) and was asked if I was OK with a student shadowing the doctor for my abortion. Because I was all, "I'm adult about this and totally feminist!" I said, "Sure, no problem!" even though I was a little uncomfortable (he was male and I didn't want to be judged by more people than was absolutely necessary). In then end though, I'm glad I gave the OK. I hope he's gone on to do some awesome shit, just like you!

nofunnybusiness

Thank you, Dolores, both for this article and for your work.

Julianne Sherrod

GO YOU! I've been reading the comments here and I am convinced and thankful that if our right to choose was ever truly threatened at the federal level (i.e. repeal of Roe V Wade) that my fellow women and some decent men would rise up and take our right. Thank you thank you thank you for this piece, thank you for choosing the path that you did and thank you for the help that you provide to my sisters every single day that you wake up and go to work!

mkiolbasa

I am always curious about how many of the services at women's clinics are actually abortions?

When I turned 26 and was kicked off my mother's health insurance, I visited Planned Parenthood for a free pap-smear. And I was completely outraged that protesters told me that I was going to Hell... As though showing up for a free cancer screening somehow made me the scourge of the earth!

It actually surprised me to see protesters because I have been under the (perhaps incorrect?) impression that a majority of PP's (and other similar clinics) services are not actually abortions. I haven't ever seen any statistics on what percentage of women utilizing PP services are like me and there in a preventative capacity. Does anyone have any idea?

abortioneers

@mkiolbasa:
see the pie chart here — http://www.tbtam.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/PPFA1.jpg
(found at http://www.tbtam.com/2011/02/must-keep-title-x-planned-parenthood-funding.html)

The post says "Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood’ services are contraception, cancer screening and STD screening and treatment. Only 3% of the almost 11 million services provided in 2008 were abortions." This 3% is cited really often so I think you can go with that figure.

(That said: it REALLY depends which "women's clinics" you're talking about. Many are not so lucky as PP has been to receive federal funds for all those other services. Since federal funds cannot go to any entity that provides abortion care, PP has had to administratively separate their abortion-providing practices from those that receive Title X funds for everything else. This takes a lot of work and a lot of non-PP clinics are way too small to dedicate resources to such a project, unfortunately. [In conclusion: please also remember to support your local independent clinics! They're a lot like local coffee shops and local bookstores…])

lifer

I'm confused. Was your abortion a positive experience or do you maintain that "no one wants a fucking abortion... etc"? Because don't those two concepts contradict themselves?

Since you're out of the closet I don't think I'm out of line in asking you this private question: What were all your reasons for having an abortion?

abortioneers

@lifer

Dude, open your mind a little to the possibilities of language. No one wants a fucking open-heart surgery either, until they're in a position to need one and then I'm pretty damn sure they're happy the procedure exists. And when that happens, they probably would really appreciate having staff who care about them and are kind and respectful, a doctor who's well trained, facilities that are safe and clean, and appointments that are readily available without unnecessary barriers. If these things are available, and the surgery puts you back on your way to a whole and healthy life, you might call that a positive experience. Right? As Whitman said, "I contain multitudes."

lifer

abortioneer- it's not that my mind is "closed to the possibilities of language", as you put it. I'd already considered what you wrote as a potential alternative interpretation, but in the blog it's written unclearly enough to cause confusion. Instead of writing about her "positive experience" in the tone of "wanting an abortion like an animal in a trap wants to gnaw off it's own leg" it reads more like "wanting an abortion like an ice cream cone" . Even if it were surgically removed, anesthesia, smiling surgeon I'd never describe the loss of my leg as a positive experience despite how awesome it is that I got to live another day. I will concede, however, that she just might. Your heart surgery analogy is flawed. With heart surgery a part of your body is broken and a surgeon makes it healthy and whole. With an abortion a body is usually healthy and whole and then it is broken. So, no, I wouldn't call that positive.

abortioneers

"With heart surgery a part of your body is broken and a surgeon makes it healthy and whole. With an abortion a body is usually healthy and whole and then it is broken. So, no, I wouldn't call that positive."

Ahem, your preconceived notions are showing! If needing an abortion is like having your leg caught in a trap, how can you turn around and say that getting the abortion is then like taking your healthy whole self and breaking it?

If you listen to enough women who've had an abortion, you'll hear a lot of different feelings about their own experiences. (Including the trap thing, including sorrow about what couldn't be, and including "I learned so much about myself" and "for the first time in my life I felt cared for.") There's really not a good reason to someone that how she feels about her own experience isn't logical.

The real flaw in my analogy? The biggest difference between abortion and open heart surgery is that even in a legalized, professionalized setting, open heart surgery is a really big deal, medically speaking: substantial rate of complications, takes a long time, requires a lot of anesthesia.

lifer

The trap analogy isn't mine. I'm sure you heard it. It's a famous quote written originally by a prolifer and adopted by prochoicers. Planned Parenthood in particular.

Ummm. Maybe my preconceived notions are showing as I've never actually trapped an animal. The way I understand it is when a animal gets caught in a trap their body is "healthy and whole". They're just trapped. The solution to becoming untrapped is to break off the appendage that keeps them trapped.
The trap analogy works on multiple levels, but I think it's intent was simply to convey the depth of desperation and lack of a true choice.
Obviously your own leg, while deeply important to you and connected to you is a part of you , but not, by itself, a person. With some intrusion into the mother's body what is broken isn't a part of her body but rather the offspring's body . Heart surgery heals a body. Abortion destroys a body. That was the defining difference on the positivity of the one vs the other.

abortioneers

Yeah, I've heard the trap analogy. It's visceral and certainly applicable to a lot of situations. But you brought it up, right before saying that abortion, rather than giving you back your whole and healthy life like heart surgery, takes a whole-and-healthy thing and breaks it. The problem is you suddenly shifted the focus of the "healing" statement from the patient to the embryo or fetus, and I don't see why you did that.

(As an aside, if you were curious about traps, yes, having your leg caught in one causes serious injury. Picture the spring-loaded traps from cartoons, for example; there are great steel teeth on the rings.)

I mean, we don't have to keep on with mapping this analogy one-to-one, you're the one who brought it up. My own analogy still seems perfectly reasonable: abortion is as important and life-changing and potentially positive as open-heart surgery. SOME women who find they're pregnant would rather be having another child and just can't; but this is not true of ALL women by a long shot. Combating oppression would be that we stop shitting on women for having kids AND stop shitting on women for not having kids.

lifer

I did not intend to suggest that the author had an illogical feeling. I can't tell her how she felt, or how to feel. Her feelings are what they are. I just wanted some clarity about what her feeling actually was, because I was getting conflicting messages from her and I have a vested interest in getting to the bottom of how women really feel when getting their abortion. As a woman who views abortion as the greatest symptom of our oppression rather than a real cure, and as a woman who also understands it as a tragedy to the unborn rooted in children also being an oppressed group in society I am interested in what drives women to get abortions, and how their abortion affects them etc. She said EVERY woman doesn't want to be there getting an abortion. Every one of them. That's a pretty significant statement if it's true. I understand that after an abortion women report to all sorts of different feelings running the gambit from most commonly relief to regret. But the most common thing I've heard reported is that even if they feel relief for having made what they describe as the best of hard choices- they all regret having had to be there in the first place.Until now I've never heard it described as a positive experience but rather a necessary one.

lifer

Aside from the hard and rare cases of life and death, why do women "need" abortions? I challenge the notion that we are so helpless that we need to go inside our womb and rip out our offspring in order to survive in and conform to this man's world. With every abortion we perpetuate the social structure that keeps women who are tethered to children as second citizens.

abortioneers

Dude, the patriarchy simultaneously craps on women who have children AND craps on women who don't have children. You're saying that this is a good reason to restrict women's medical and reproductive decisions?

Cautious

I can't speak for every woman, but I "needed" an abortion because I was poor, in college, holding two jobs, and barely keeping myself off the street. I "needed" an abortion because the pregnancy was causing "morning sickness" so severe that I was vomiting upwards of five times an hour, every hour, all day, every day, for weeks. I "needed" an abortion because I ended up in the hospital for dehydration, hooked up to an IV, listening to a triage nurse inform me that I was a sinner, that getting an abortion would send me straight to hell.

I went into my womb and ripped out a blastocyst so that I could graduate college. My pregnancy was never life threatening, but it would have nonetheless ruined my life.

alice.teeter@gmail.com

Thank you for this article, I will share it with my nursing class when we do OBGYN rotation next semester.

Miz James

I wish I could thank the amazing women who helped me through my procedure in 1984. Best decision I ever made. Literally.

Instead I will thank you, Delores, because what you are doing is awesome and sorely needed. Plus your attitude is fucking KICKASS! To be able to help the misguided kid who was against abortion AND thought you should be killed? Not to mention the anguish she must have been in. You've got some serious skills, girl.

Thank you!

lifer

Abort: Instead of solving the problems which cooerce women into having abortions we pit woman against her unborn child and offer the violent end of the unborn as the solution instead. Abortion does not solve the problem of poverty, lack of emotional support, abuse. It does not put daycares on campuses. It does not stop employers from firing mothers or paying them less. It does not lengthen maternity leave or require breastfeeding breaks. It does not socialize men to stop leaving the women they procreate with. It does not radically restructure society so that children and their caretakers are included in the "real world". Society makes parenthood a very difficult thing to do happily . She is expected to stay at home and serve everyone but herself- or she is expected to reject that oppressive role and be seperated from her offspring- or never have offspring altogether in order to conform to the model of a workforce that was only designed for childless people and men *who are socialized to be workers first/fathers second*. Imagine a world where a woman (or man) sat in her (his) office doing creative work with her/his infant in the pack and play next to her/him. Imagine normalizing that mothers and their children not only belong together but are valuable members of society who belong with us. Any abortion made because of money, abuse, unsupportive partner, inability to further education/advance in career, because a fear of being isolated from friendships and society, even the rare desperation that her body will be undesireable after pregnancy ( society shames the post pregnancy body ) - is a reaction to a problem, not a fix for it. We have been forced to be at war with our innocent children. That is not empowerment. I do not advocate restricting Medical and reproductive decisions . An abortion is rarely medically necessary and rarely promotes bodily health. I also want all women to have the choice to get pregnant or not to. Once pregnancy has happened though, I can only support the best possible outcome for both woman and new human.

abortioneers

About 90% of what you said is totally obvious and unobjectionable. The other 10% is totally not a necessary logical conclusion of the first 90%. I support all your efforts to make society a better place for women, children, and families in general; I hope you're doing lots of work to achieve this, because God knows it's taking lots of work. (So is the part about "having the choice" to get pregnant or not to; if you were one of the conscientious, unluckily fertile women I've met you'd be right pissed at your body's thwarting of your choices.) But in the meantime, women are going to need abortion care, and we're going to provide it. Even after this social dream that you and I share -- the 90% -- is achieved, there will always be:

Women whose pregnancies are life-threatening
Women whose pregnancies are health-damaging
Women whose fetuses are dying
Women who are really still girls
Women who are adult but not yet mature
Women whose 24 hours are already taken up by 1,2,3,4 kids and can't make any extra hours in the day, or don't want to
Women who aren't mom material
Women whose partners weren't dad material (or have died, or absolutely need to be on a different continent, etc) and have decided against parenting alone
Women who aren't sure with their whole hearts that they want to commit to parenthood
Etcccccc

But those women really don't need to be justified. This article wasn't about whether abortion is right or wrong. It's a shame to make it into yet another one of those. This one was about a woman's experiences receiving and providing abortion care.

PixieEve

@"lifer"
There's nothing like fauxminism to derail the conversation. It may surprise you to hear, but no one aborts a child. No one aborts a baby. An abortion terminates a pregnancy which may, or may not, result in a baby and eventually a child. Women will never, never achieve equality until we are allowed to control our own bodies. No one should be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. That is oppression.
You're not pro-life. You're anti-choice, anti-woman, and anti-equality.

lifer

@PixieEve - Why does equality= the right to end pregnancy? Why does pregnancy keep us from being equal? If being pregnant prevents us from being equals then the world's view of pregnancy and treatment of pregnancy needs to change. Women shouldn't feel like they must stop being pregnant in order to be an equal. Pregnant or not no man is my superior. As to the no one aborts a baby- you say that as if that were fact. Baby is a social term people give to human offspring sometimes before birth and sometimes only after. The medical term for that same being is fetus, pre-birth and neo-nate post birth. But after conception there exists a unique individual being who is human. A human being. When during the course of his/her development does that being become entitled to his/her life being protected is where the debate lies, not in the existence of that being. An abortion ends that human being's life. Whether that life is yet of value- discuss. But whether there is a new individual who's lifespan has began isn't debateable. A fetus is an individual human being in the early stages of his/her development. I am not anti-woman. I love women. I love people too, though. Especially the very young. It's not anti-woman to want non-violent solutions to the problem of female oppression. I want women to never feel like they "have" to have an abortion just to have equal footing in this world- to have any chance of happiness due to having children equaling isolation from society - or worse to survive.

lifer

@abortioneers i agree with you about women who have life-threatening pregnancies . after that you speak of situations where if society rose to help, the women would not feel helpless and abortion wouldn't be necessary. Why are you more concerned with abortion remaining legal rather than addressing the reasons women get them? And if women don't "need" them, because society is set up to provide for and respect and include mothers and children, why would abortions because of "maturity" or not being mom-material or who don't want to commit to parenting be something so important to champion when another life is at stake? I really think if women were treated better, If children were treated better, women wouldn't be compelled to end the lives of their unborn. If it didn't mean an expectation that your life was psychologically over or if it didn't mean you couldn't provide for yourself- they wouldn't get them, unless their life was threatened. Women don't get abortions unless they feel their life or livelihood is threatened. Fight the cause- not the symptom

fleurdelivre

You are a credit to your profession! Thanks for your compassion and enthusiasm!

Cautious

Thank you so much for writing this. The work you do is so incredibly important, and I am so glad that you are doing it, unashamed and proud. I have had two abortions, both over the course of six months, when I was 21. I was on two forms of birth control at the time. I can't even imagine how horrible things would be now if I had been forced to carry either pregnancy to term. I certainly wouldn't have graduated college, and I probably wouldn't be happily married and planning for children.

The hard work, dedication, kindness, and support that I received from the staff, nurses, and doctors at the abortion clinic I attended somehow made the entire experience bearable. I am incredibly grateful for the work that abortion-providers every where do. I am so grateful that I had the option to have an abortion, and I wish that every woman could have access to the same choice that I had. Not every woman wants to get an abortion - but EVERY woman should have the right to choose.

Juliana Golden Stadelmeier

Thank you SO much for being brave enough to write this article, brave enough to take your life into your own hands to help save others. You are an inspiration, and I hope you will be an inspiration to other doctors and np's around you!

Brandy Miller

Dolores, my heart is full of sorrow for you as I read this article. That child you aborted was God's answer to so many of your prayers, and not only an answer to your prayers but the prayers of your husband and your families and people you will never even know. I will pray for you. I know that you do not realize the damage you are doing. God loves you, Dolores. May you find your way back to Him while there is still time to do so.

Bobly

She's doing good work.
And I should point out that it's quite evident that, whatever else she may pray for, a child isn't on the list.

ribes

I have to agree with Jane on this one. Dolores is a good writer and this is a really interesting subject, but she could use a good editor. Her conversational style would work better for this piece if someone judiciously removed the 'like's and trimmed it down a bit.

abortioneers

FFFUUUU
Dolores! The connections, they are being Missed :(
Your comment to my post didn't include any detectable email addresses (and I know they sometimes do). I replied to you there, though…What now?

abortioneers

Sigh, and also, the double-comments, they are being Effed Up by yours truly. My bad.

meep

This was an amazing article, but there's one minor point...
"65% of women who get abortions in this country are already moms! Smile, there’s a 65% chance your mother chose abortion because she wanted to make sure she could take care of her already-existing children, i.e., you."
What wasn't really clear is that there is a 65% chance that, IF your mother got an abortion, she chose to do so already being a mom. Not 100% of women get abortions, so the probability that any given mother would have gotten an abortion would be smaller.
Even more minor point: if you have substantially older siblings, she may have had an abortion while they were alive but you weren't yet.

PixieEve

I don't know you, Dolores, but I love you for providing safe abortions and for writing this article. I don't know if you've heard of Rabble, but you might enjoy reading it. Especially on days where the anti-choicers, you know, those people who call themselves pro-life but completely devalue the lives of women, get you down.
http://rabbleprochoice.tumblr.com/

twitchingcurtains

I've cycled through quite a few views on abortion before settling on the one I hold now. My mother was a pro-life activist in the 1970's in the UK and I have been dragged along to pro-life events as a child. I always thought that abortion was wrong until I heard about the real-world things which happen to people which makes abortion the safest option for them. They changed my mind, and surprisingly, my mother's too.
My flatmate at university was in what was effectively an abusive relationship. The guy had convinced her through emotional abuse (effectively grooming her) to have demeaning, often anal sex with him, which really she didn't want. When she got pregnant and he wanted nothing to do with her and she realised what he'd been doing to her she was so disgusted at the thought of carrying his child that she became depressed and self-destructive. I sincerely believe that without a safe abortion (provided for free in the UK on the NHS) she would have become suicidal.
Abuse isn't always violent, rape isn't always at knife point, and abortion to save the mother's life doesn't have to involve dramatic medical conditions.
I don't think I would ever want to have an abortion, were I in that situation, but for people who do I think it's so important that it is safe, available and non-judgemental.
I would advocate compulsory counselling before and after- with the counselling before an objective discussion about their motivations, feelings and other options, and a compulsory consultation about long-term, reliable birth control, but I never want to see a situation in the UK like there is in the US where medical professionals are intimidated and assaulted for carrying out medical procedures which help women.
I truly believe this is a great article- sound and objective. As for describing abortion as a positive experience, I believe Dolores meant positive in the sense of it being non-judgemental, professional and woman-centred. I don't believe I would have the guts to do your job Dolores, but I'm very glad that you do.

WhaleRiot

Thank you so much for this article. I'm glad a stumbled upon it. It was also wonderful to read so many touching and supportive comments.

Yvonne Porto

thank you for this article, Dolores. i'm pro-choice. i've never been through a situation like this and i honestly don't know if i would choose abortion over other options, but i can understand why other women choose to have an abortion, and definitely agree that women should have the right to choose!
your article was quite interesting because i don't get to read about the experiences of the people providing healthcare as much as stories from women who go through abortions.

Sparky

Dolores, thank you for everything you do. I once had a friend tell me that if things got worse for women who needed or wanted abortions in this country, she would consider giving up the career she already had to go back to school specifically to become an abortion provider. She went on to say that she, as a person who had an abortion at 22, would even go so far as to set up an office in her home (and believe me, she knew everything about sterile procedure and how an operating room would have to be set up) so that women wouldn't have to deal with pro-lifers hatred outside of clinics. We need more people like you and her, Dolores, people who will bring safe abortions to women no matter where they are. If the clinics disappear, I hope more providers will consider setting up their own. We cannot allow the government to make choices about our bodies. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this and for what you do. You are a hero.

elizabethanne

@Sparky HERO??????? did you really just call her a HERO?

Megan Severson@facebook

Thank you for doing what you do. This is the best pro-choice article I've read to date. If there's anything else I can do to help protect your line of work and your safety, let me know.

nomorecheese

Women deserve the choice. It is their choice. God bless our women.

bri
bri

I am very interested in becoming an abortion doctor and I would love to get some tips and info from someone who has actually done it. I just graduated high school (I live in Wisconsin) last spring and I am wondering what college I should go to and what classes I should take. Also, I want to know what kind of money you make doing this.
Thank you, a reply would be much appreciated.
Bri

Beebee Pomegranate@facebook

Thank you so much for what you do AND this article. I've started down the same road, and my sole mission is to be a provider. (Unfortunately, I will have to do most of my education in Cuba because I can't afford to do it here.) It's great to have read your experience with this.

In response to Bri, you have to carry a lot more liability insurance as an OB/GYN and a surgeon, so you're looking at a good chunk of your salary every year. If you want to make a fantastic amount of money, go into anesthesiology, or pick another profession. Otherwise, you have to get Bachelors in Science, and then 4 years of med school plus another 4 years in residency.

getmeout

I am proud of you...and I hope one of my girls grows up to do something as powerful and meaningful to others as you have chosen.

Michaela Daniel@facebook

I'm glad this article popped back up on my radar. The only local (within 80 mile radius local) abortion provider just had an aneurism, and will probably retire. Why are providers so few and far between?? It's terrible.

elizabethanne

@Michaela Daniel@facebook Because normal people don't like being murderers.

TJP77

I'm so glad that like, someone so, like, awesome and totally serious, is like, going to do abortions and stuff. I mean, like, everyone needs an abortion, amirite?

You're a disgusting individual. Abortion is, at best, a somber necessity, and at worst outright murder. It is not something to be proud of, or to undertake with the cheerful abandon that this author is attempting to put forth. It is one of humankinds most horrific and barbaric practices, every bit as indefensible as slavery.

It's articles like this which make me reluctantly support those that have the moral fortitude to take violent action against abortionists and their facilities.

rootmarm

@TJP77 hahaha, eat shit.

elizabethanne

@TJP77 Thanks for your comment, I totally agree and wish I could write something as to the point as you did. I just feel totally sick now that I read this article! I can't believe she was so happy go lucky and care free about something so serious, and emotionally destructive for women to go through. And so excited about it.....people just do not care about babies and it saddens my heart so much! I 2nd everything you said in your comment TJP77 and I hope this author comes to realize what she is doing, what she is supporting, and has a heart change in her life.
Thank you for your words!

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Jesse Wolfe@facebook

Thank you for writing this.

elizabethanne

@Jesse Wolfe@facebook how could you thank someone for this? HOW? Please tell me you really aren't thankful and are possibly trying to justify some deep hurt inside you? Think about what you are thankful for...

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