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Topics: Abortion, Access and Affordability
Area of Life Affected: Dignity, Finances

It Shouldn't Have to Be This Way

Last June, less than a month after graduating from college, I found out I was pregnant. After all the hard work that was put in to get my biochemistry degree, I was not ready to put my life aside to raise a child before I even got my foot in the door (I was still waiting tables from college!). Not only that, but I did not have a healthy relationship with my then-boyfriend, and it would likely only be made worse if we had a child together. Honestly, the list of reasons why it was not a time for me to bring a child into this world could go on for a while.

“At the end of it all, I spent about $600 basically just to take a pill.”

I knew that I needed to get an abortion, which isn’t the easiest task when you live in the South. Luckily, I lived in Baton Rouge, so I was only 20 minutes away from the nearest clinic. I called them for an appointment, and I had two options: Tuesday at 8:00 am or Thursday at 8:00 am. I picked Tuesday. When I got to the clinic, I realized that everyone is told to get there at the same time. Each woman was provided a number at the time she arrived, and then each one was called up in that order to take a pregnancy test.

Then they sit you in another room to wait. Once everyone has taken a pregnancy test, everyone is called up in order again to get an ultrasound performed. Then you have to wait again, where they eventually play an informational video from the 1980s on abortion. Then each one is called into a room where you talk to the only doctor and confirm that you do actually want an abortion.

This whole process took about four hours, and I wasn’t even done, because Louisiana law mandates that women must wait at least 24 hours between their initial appointment with the doctor and the time of the abortion. So I was told to come back the following week (they’re only open two days a week).

The next week, I am back at the clinic, now with my boyfriend, who is not happy with my decision to terminate the pregnancy, but somewhat supportive. It was a similar arrangement as the previous week, where you are cattle-herded from room to room for four hours.

Finally, at the end, I was administered the abortion pill, but not before I was reminded for about the sixth time in this process that I should not do this if I feel pressured. Later I took the second pill, which expels the embryo. I had to get it from a specific pharmacy that the clinic trusts will actually sell us the pill (pharmacists have the right to not fill scripts if they don’t want to, so being in the South, it can be difficult to find a pharmacy that is willing to prescribe you a medicine commonly administered with abortion).

At the end of it all, I spent about $600 basically just to take a pill, and state law prevented my insurance from covering anything. And between the cattle herding and the questions I was asked, I felt like I was being shamed at the actual clinic for getting this done. Not even considering the psychological effects of having an abortion, this is not something I would want to go through again nor wish upon others.

I almost feel bad for complaining about my personal abortion story, because I know that many girls, several of whom were part of the “herd” at the clinic with me, had it much worse. There were only five clinics in the state at the time, and even fewer in other states, so some women had to travel for hours just to see a doctor who could treat them. While I could roll out of my bed and go, some girls and their mothers had to get hotel rooms to get there. And they had to make two trips, since it can’t all be done in one day. Oh, and if they forget to get their prescription filled before they head home, they risk not being able to get the second pill anywhere in their home state at all.

Louisiana doesn’t actually make abortion illegal, but it makes it incredibly difficult for clinics in this area to comply with regulations to remain open. Since last June, all but one of the clinics in the state of Louisiana have been forced to close down due to increased legislation, including the one I went to. Thus, there are even more women out there who can’t get access to the health care they need. Keep in mind, many women in the South seeking an abortion might be doing so for financial concerns, and the hoops they have to jump through might make them unable to get it performed.

Ultimately, these women would be stuck with the even bigger expense of pregnancy and child rearing, for which they are able to obtain government support. It should not be so difficult, costly, or shameful for a woman to get an abortion if she wants one. Abortion maybe should not be someone’s Plan A if they don’t want a child, but if Plan B doesn’t work, who is the government to prevent you from having a Plan C for your body?

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