A gynaecologist on how abortion restrictions lead to dangerous abortions

Several states recently passed (or aim to pass) restrictive abortion bills that will close most local abortion clinics in those states. Texas’ effort became famous when Senator Wendy Davis filibustered against it for more than 11 hours to wide acclaim. But that bill differs little to ones that slipped through quietly in Ohio, Wisconsin, and… READ THE REST

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Amazed that you can’t get an IUD. Is that everywhere in the US or just some states?

It’s not that they’re unavailable, it’s that either insurance isn’t covering it (not for long), or the uninsured simply can’t afford it.

I take back the unavailable part, kinda. There are pockets of extreme assholishness in this country where asshat “christians” pretend at lady-doctoring (I’m looking at you “Dr.” Ron Paul). These moralizing dickwads will refuse to provide IUD’s or any other kind of BC they don’t “agree” with.


When I was an office nurse many years ago, our PA-C told hair raising stories about his time working in an ER in a place where abortion was not available back in the day. If you had money you could cross state lines, but that left impoverished women with no options. He said, despite being super conservative in all the normal ways, he was adamant about being pro-choice.

He was haunted by his experiences, and because of that, he really educated me on this issue. I’m young enough that at the time I had never lived in a time where it was illegal, or was under fire for stupid crap restrictions.

Now when I see all these wangholes trying to restrict abortion, my first thoughts are always of my old coworker, and the stories he had, and the women that died on him.

I really never thought we’d be back to this fight.


I never heard detailed stories from my mothers days working in the ER as tech/nurse but she pretty much said the same.


I have a close friend in Minneapolis who had to go to multiple OBGYNs before she found somebody who would give her an IUD at age 22.

She got denied over and over for several reasons:
-Some docs didn’t want to give her a more-permanent form of birth control because she was “too young”. IUDs are reversible at any time, of course, but they were acting like she didn’t know her own mind well enough to decide she wanted to make an investment in a form of birth control that would last her a decade. There are plenty of doctors who think young women aren’t competent enough to make their own decisions about when (and whether) they want to have children.

  • Other docs were uncomfortable giving her an IUD before she’d had kids, but for medical reasons. My understanding is that the only IUDs available in the US are of a “larger” size, designed for women who have given birth before. It can be tricky (and, depending on your body, potentially more painful) to insert one of those IUDs in a woman who hasn’t given birth. It’s certainly not impossible. And it’s not OMGDANGEROUS. But if it’s something the doctor isn’t used to doing, they might just want to avoid it. Why the smaller size IUDs aren’t available here, I have no idea. Right after my friend got her IUD she found out that smaller sizes are available in Europe.

I know someone who was involved in the underground network referring women to relatively trustworthy doctors, back when abortions were illegal.

I’ve always thought that the coathanger was perhaps an overly strong symbol for why we must not go back to that prohibition. But I didn’t expect to see the Religious Right regain ground on this issue. Maybe they do need that strong a message.


I had the same problem in 1991. I shopped it all over, but it just wasn’t available. I was twenty at the time, and didn’t want any children, and then shopped for a doc for a tubal ligation. It took 12 docs before I found one that would actually see me. I lucked out to find him. Everyone else thought it was find if I decided to make a life altering decision to have kids, but I was too young, and dumb to make the life altering decision not to.


Perhaps I’m overly paranoid, but I think Dr. Gunter is being generous when she thinks lawmakers who are passing, or pushing, restrictive laws really are interested in reducing the number of abortions. As she said it seems to be “all just posturing”.

More and more the fight, it seems to me, isn’t just about abortion but also about birth control. In 2003 I first started hearing stories of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control because of “religious or moral reasons”. I was shocked to learn that in six states–Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota–such refusals are legal, leaving women who have prescriptions with little choice if the only pharmacy in their area refuses to dispense, or even stock, the medications specified by their prescriptions.

I find it disturbing that many seem to be trying in the U.S. to turn back the clock not just to pre-1972, but to the early 20th century when most forms of birth control were illegal.


Now imagine that you’re in a less liberal place and try the same gambit. I’ve had a kid, and go to a university medical system, so I didn’t get any static, but your friend isn’t the first person I’ve heard of having a really hard time finding someone to install an IUD, even up here in the Northern Tier. It’s beyond stupid to deny a young woman a form of BC that she seriously doesn’t have to think about unless she’s ready to have a kid (cough and tug, out it comes). BTW, for all the ladies out there thinking about it, take the non-hormonal offering. Especially if you’ve ever had a bad experience with the pill.

As for why the smaller ones aren’t available in the US… well, us dirty sluts need to be punished somehow for all our non-baby makin’ sexytime. /s (FSM, I really shouldn’t need to tag this one.)


You´d think an explanation of how abortion restrictions lead to dangerous abortions was redundant, but there you are. One can only hope the people in need of one will be reading it.


There’s more to it than that. The current Republican strategy, which we saw in Texas, is to impose burdens so onerous that most clinics will be forced to close. If that means women can’t get pap smears and well-baby exams, well it’s their own fault for being such sluts.

And Wade v Roe actually outlaws this, as being “undue burden.” But most judges in this country were appointed by Republican presidents, and all of Obama’s choices - all of them - are being stonewall filibustered. Wade v Roe only counts if the courts actually enforce it.


Friend of Jane?

There’s no plaque on the building, but if you come to the south side of Chicago I can show you exactly where the Jane Collective was based.

I will say the same thing that I said when a friend posted this article (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-07-10/flea-market-abortions-thrive-as-texas-bill-might-close-clinics)

I cannot imagine that the people supporting these restrictive abortion bills really care about the woman who suffer because of the black market abortion pills that they take.

I also think that this comment

brings up a good point, because this comment

is expressing exactly what these “pro-life” people think … yes, I saw @IronEdithKidd’s sarcasm tag, but it seems like a lot of people make those statements because they really believe it.

Last year I read an interesting blog post from a woman who previously described herself as “pro-life”, but now considers herself pro-choice: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html If I remember correctly (I am not rereading those comments!), a lot of the commenters there were making statements that basically said that women should be required to “face the consequences” of having sex.


Having children is of course an intensely personal choice… but I will say that

  1. I was really dumb at 20 (I’m still dumb at 42 but I think somewhat less?)
  2. Having children is by far the most transformative, life changing thing I have ever done. Nothing else I can think of even comes close.

I hate to evangelize about this stuff, but it’s kind of hard not to.

I think you absolutely have the right to make whatever decision is right for you, but given #1 and #2 above I also think it’s reasonable to get good intentioned resistance to make sure you’re really, really, REALLY, double-plus really sure about a permanent decision like that at age 20.

I really do apologize if this comes off as preachy. I was just sitting here and thinking if I was one of those doctors, I probably would have hemmed and hawed in exactly the same way, and I wanted to explain why that is, and not because I am a women’s rights-hating jerk.

NB: since I wrote that article, we had twin girls, so I am in a world of pain now. Hurts so good…

Women May Resort to Coat Hanger Abortions, ‘But, Hey,’ Says Republican Named Bubba

get good intentioned resistance

Please explain what that is?


I’m a 41 year old nurse, that is trans. Not having kids was very important to me. I also have some hereditary issues that would have been un-good to pass on to another generation.

My point, is of the 12, or so docs, I went through, none of them let me explain my choice. They all assumed that because I had female reproductive organs, that I would want to have kids. Even the doc I went to had to have my husband sign paperwork stating my husband agreed to my permanent sterilization of my body.

I had to de facto get my husbands permission. Luckily for me, my husband is still with me, and cool with my decisions on my own body.

However, I should not have to explain all that, or go to 12 different docs, to get what I want done with my body. 11 of those blowhards, were perfectly fine with me having children and taking hereditary risks for them, and don’t even get me started on trans issues and bodily autonomy.

Why would you trust me to have a child, and raise it, when you can’t trust me to know what I want with my own body? At the age of 41, that was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.


Fair enough. I didn’t mean to pry and I appreciate your honest answer. Eleven is a lot, but on the upside, at least you could tell Doc #12 “Look, buddy, like I said to the 11 previous doctors I talked to”…

Don’t sell yourself short on your potential value as a parent, though. As famously noted in The Breakfast Club, it doesn’t exactly take a license to have a kid. Just on the basis of your thoughtful posts here I bet you’d do a better job than most. What the hell, I’m an optimist.

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Actually, doc #12 still forced me to get another human beings permission to make decisions about my own body. He was more about the liability issue if my husband sued him, than about anything else.

I think I’d be a great parent, because I did really well in psych nursing. It’s remarkable how many similar issues come up.

But in the end, I don’t want to be. When you are young, and present as female, you get a lot of crap thrown your way about how you will regret it, and you don’t know what you are doing, etc.

I guess I just can’t wrap my head around how it was just assumed that because of being a woman, that I shouldn’t be allowed to follow through on the decision to NOT have kids, whereas having kids was fine. I know a lot of great young women these days that also fought for permanent birth control. Hell, even getting an IUD can be a fight.

Why is it culturally okay to question a woman’s choice about that, and not about say. . . getting a tattoo, or going to graduate school, or giving birth? I think it has more to do with how we think about gender, and women as nurturing caregivers. If you don’t want to get pregnant, or have kids, you go against a cultural role, and that is a tough upstream swim.