Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why I'm Pro-Choice (Part 2 of 3)

While waiting to start the pill again, I got pregnant.

Even being pro-choice and medically complicated, the decision to seek an abortion was deeply painful. I thought that being in Ann Arbor would offer me choices about who would do the procedure. (Ann Arbor had already passed a law stating that should the courts overturn Roe v. Wade, the city's only penalties for doctors still performing abortions would be a $25 fine.) Wrong again. The only facility that offered the procedure was the Planned Parenthood clinic in nearby Ypsilanti.

While Planned Parenthood does a lot of excellent work, my experience at this clinic was a nightmare. Although Michigan didn't have any mandatory 24 hour waiting period law in place, the clinic required you to come in the day before the abortion for counseling. I had a job with a very difficult boss at the time (may he rot where he stands), so getting time off was going to be rough. I finally convinced him to let me off for a day and a half and had the counseling on a Thursday afternoon, with the procedure scheduled for the next morning. I figured that would give me the weekend to recover from any after effects.

One of the concerns I shared with the nurse who did counseling for Planned Parenthood was that the normal discomfort caused by having an abortion would be exacerbated by my existing spinal cord damage. She assured me that the doctor would provide me with a prescription medication before the procedure to alleviate all pain. However, after I arrived for my procedure, had changed into a gown and was on my way back to the operating room, I was told that after the doctor heard about my previous medical problems, he was "too scared to give me any medication, even ibuprofen." Needless to say this news was all that was needed to tip already fragile emotions over the edge and I began to cry. The nurse told me that I'd better stop crying or the doctor will this you really don't want an abortion and he'll refuse to do this." Given that this was the only option in my area and that I had already wrangled very hard to get time off with my boss, this threat only made me cry harder out of fear that might lose my job if I needed additional time off to travel to the next nearest clinic that performed abortions.

When the doctor came into the operating room and found me crying, he repeated that I needed to "pull myself together" or he would send me home. My heart aches for those women who were truly torn apart by having to have an abortion that were forced to deal with this man -- how can someone who does this for a living not have more compassion and understanding that this is a painful decision for many women, or that others simply are afraid of the unknown?

As the doctor examined me in preparation for the procedure, he decided that the physical state of my body did not support my assertion that I was 10 weeks pregnant and challenged me about the I reported as my last menstrual cycle. When I told him that I was certain that date was accurate as I had been tracking my cycle for years, he cut me off and insisted that I was wrong. Of course, silly me! Being a silly girl, I forgot that old white guys were, by definition, far more knowledgeable about my bodily functions than I was.

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