PO Box 29
Athens, OH 45701
49 percent of women in America will have an abortion before they’re 45, but hardly any of us really plan for it. I think it is just so important that we have knowledge of what resources are available for us and for our friends. Also, in this world that is increasingly hostile to women having control over their bodies, it’s important that we know what is going on inside of us, and ways we can deal with the emotional and physical impacts of unwanted pregnancy.
I really want to encourage women to form women’s health groups. It doesn’t have to be the focus of your life or the focus of your activism, but I think it’s necessary for us to have at least a basic knowledge of our bodies and our health care options. And if you can’t form a group, you can still learn a ton on your own.
Here are some questions:
Where is the clinic/clinics in your area? Do they offer surgical and medical procedures? How many weeks are abortions offered until? What kinds of experiences have people you know had at local clinics? What kind of sedation do they offer? Valium? Twilight sedation? What are emotional pro’s and con’s of the different types of sedation? What do you think you would want? How does a surgical abortion work? How long does it take? How long do you have to be at the clinic? How does a medical abortion work? What is that experience like? Are there protesters at the clinic? Does the clinic accept volunteers? Do they have translators? How much does it cost?
These things are way easier to find out about when you’re not having to deal with the emotions and panic that often come with unwanted pregnancy.
I’d like to offer up a couple resources here. On the internet, there is the Feminist Women Health Centers page at fwhc.org. It has a lot of information about how it all works, and also a good page on people’s personal stories about their experiences with abortion. Also, there is a group called the National Network of Abortion Funds at nnaf.org/fundinfo.html. It is an organization with local groups around the country that raise money to help women who can’t afford their abortions. They don’t cover every part of the country and most groups need donations and volunteers.
Do you have a friend who you feel like could support you through an abortion? If not, is there anyone who could be that person if you put more commitment into deepening your relationship with them? What are your feelings about abortion? What are your partners feelings about it? Is your partner willing and able to help pay for an abortion? Have you talked about what you would do and what you would need for support if you were to have an abortion? If you need help figuring out what you think about abortion, or how to talk about it, there are a lot of good resources, like The Pregnancy Options Workbook, at pregnancyoptions.org, and Abortionsconversations.com/whoweare.php. I also really like the book Abortion Without Apology and of course, Our Bodies Ourselves.
I know a lot of people who have a vague sense that they would like to try to abort with herbs if they were to get pregnant. If this is something you are interested in, I seriously recommend doing the research before you get pregnant! There is a lot of information to sort through, and since herbal abortion doesn’t have the highest success rate, and the herbs are often hard on the body, it is much better to know which herbs and in which forms you would want to take. There is a really great website called Sisterzeus.com, that has some herb information, and also recommends books that provide more detail. I particularly like Herbal Abortion: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, by Uni Tiamat. Ordering information for this book is on the sisterzeus website.
I’ve been criticized in the past for taking abortion too lightly, and I really don’t. I think abortions are really hard for many of us. They tend to bring up lots of complex and deep emotions, even when we don’t have moral issues with it. They often bring up issues of self-worth and our ability to make healthy choices in our lives. They can bring up issues of abuse. They can bring up questions about our relationship with our partner and our relationships with our friends. They can bring up the defeated feeling of not being treated with care and respect from our doctors. They can bring up body fear and body hate, and control issues. I’m not saying that it has to be that way, or that it always brings up these emotions, but I know that it is often really complex and hard. And I want us to be able to face these difficult times with less fear and with more openness and support. I also think that if we talked more freely about abortion, maybe it would also become easier to talk about birth control, body issues, consent, and all kinds of things that would help us overall in our lives.
I also want to recommend these books: A Women’s Book of Choices: Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, RU-486, by Chalker and Downer, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler, A New View of a Woman’s Body, by the Federation of Feminist Health Centers, and The Biology of Women, by Ethel Sloan