- Posted February 8, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Have you had an abortion?
can't take it back
In June of 1999, I discovered that I was pregnant. As I was in an unhealthy marriage, and suffering from chronic health problems that prevented me from working in my profession, I panicked. My psychiatrist advised me that I must have an abortion if there was to be any hope that I would ever practice veterinary medicine. I protested with shock and dismay, but after much reasoning and projection of my future in both scenarios, my doctor was able to convince me that this was the only choice I had.
My husband was mortified. He took me to a Minnonite healer, he begged, and he cried. He told me that he would not take me to an abortion clinic. I made an appointment with my gynecologists, whom I trusted to help me sort out my thoughts, or at least to refer me to a reputable abortionist. He told me that a lot of women make the decision to terminate a pregnancy, and suffer no problems afterward. He called the abortion clinic down the street from his office and scheduled the appointment himself. He gave me directions and instructed me that they required $400 cash up front. I was not required to go in for the counseling session because my own doctor was fulfilling that purpose while I was in his office.
One week later, I drove back into the city and stopped by the bank for the money. When I arrived at the clinic, I tried my best to make sure the receptionist didn't notice that I had arrived alone. The nurse escorted me back for the preliminary exam, and then I walked down the hallway in my paper gown to the dimly lit procedure room. An IV catheter was installed and medication was injected. The doctor walked in and proceeded to perform an ultrasound. I was able to make out the image of my 8 week-old baby. I began to cry loudly and uncontrollably. The doctor asked if I was sure that I wanted to do this, and I sobbed "I have no other choice." He then inserted a speculum and injected my cervix, which was painful. He used a vacuum aspirator, which exerted enough pressure to shake my entire body. I had to push hard against the footrests to keep the vacuum from pullling my body off the end of the table. When it was over, the doctor exited the room quickly. I changed my clothes and went back to the waiting room, where I was given lemonade and crackers. The nurse told me it was time for me to leave. No one noticed that I walked out the door alone. After I got into my car, I realized that there was no way that I could drive without falling asleep. I went back inside and asked to use the phone. My husband had to come to the abortion clinic afterall.
Initially, I felt relieved that it was over. As the days and weeks progressed, however, I became very numb. I lost my appetite and was unable to speak to other people, as I felt dazed. 6 months after the abortion, my husband sent me to Georgia to stay with my retired parents, as he had become concerned about my deteriorating condition. We did not correlate these events with the abortion at the time, as I had already been experiencing the other medical problems for a long time.
In January, I confided to my dad that I thought this might have been my last Christmas, and that things were getting so much worse for me, it would be better that I just "move on." 2 days later, Dad drove me to Atlanta and admitted me to the psychiatric hospital at Emory University. I don't remember much about it, except that medication and therapy seemed to make no improvement. My doctor there decided that I should have a few electroconvulsive therapy treatments. As I wasn't showing a response to those, either, they just continued with them twice a week. In all I had over 20 ECT treatments. Portions of my memory over the following weeks are not present.
It has taken many years to build a functional life. In 2007, I became aware of free counseling for women who had had abortions and were suffering from emotional problems. It was through our local crisis pregnancy center that I found this help. If only I had gone there beforehand, I could have avoided this altogether. However, I count it a blessing that I can share my experience with other women, and I have actually prevented some of them from making the same mistake.
I have found that by the time a woman resorts to the decision to have an abortion, she feels that she has exhausted every other option that she could think of. It is a salvage procedure that breaks hearts and ends lives. Women and babies deserve better.