MEDICAL ABORTION: "WHY HADN'T ANYONE TOLD ME THAT IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS?!"
"Tears streaming down my face, I called my husband back and told him I was dying!"
"This pain was unimaginable. Indescribable. It was the worst pain I have ever felt. With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet."
"By the time my husband arrived home a few minutes later, the water in the tub was colored red by blood and our dog was barking like mad in-between my screams."
INTRODUCTION: KAY'S ABORTION EXPERIENCE WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD
As a ardent pro-choice advocate, Kay tells her story of a 2006 surgical abortion and a horrific medical abortion experience in 2013 that had been provided by Planned Parenthood.
Married, in her late twenties, pursuing a PhD to advance her academic professional development, Kay found herself facing a second unplanned pregnancy when a course of potent antibiotics treating a serious infection interfered with her birth control.
In 2013, Kay and her spouse went to Planned Parenthood's Georgetown Health Center in Indianapolis, Indiana to terminate an early pregnancy with the mifepristone/misoprostol medical abortion pill regimen.
She stated "the whole ordeal was awful"and left her feeling very angry that she had not been properly informed and warned about the unpredictable risks of an early medical abortion pregnancy termination.
Her husband had called Planned Parenthood several times describing Kay's alarming condition to them. They responded that this was “normal” and she did not need to go to the hospital unless she was hemhorraging.
The duration of the medical abortion process in addition to accidental bleeding episodes left Kay embarrassed, depressed and hiding at home.
Planned Parenthood discusses on its website that the medication abortion pill option is private, feels more "natural" like a miscarriage, women feel more in control, it's less invasive, and nearly all women would recommend the method to a friend.
Kay had her own personal experience with medical abortion. She shares her story so others can learn what can happen when choosing the abortion pill as an option.
Is medical abortion truly the ultimate in women’s reproductive empowerment and personal privacy?
KAY'S PRO-CHOICE STANCE & ABORTION EXPERIENCE WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD
"I want to start my story by stating that I am pro-choice. I firmly support a women’s right to privacy in areas affecting her health."
"This is not an anti-abortion rant."
"Rather, it is the true story of my own experiences with both a surgical and medical abortion."
Kay’s First Unplanned Pregnancy & Surgical Abortion
In 2006, at the age of 21, I became pregnant with my now spouse. The pregnancy was the result of our own stupidity. We had unprotected sex without birth control.
After deciding on a surgical abortion, we made an appointment at the nearest Planned Parenthood and went together.
Although I had to go through the appointment alone and the entire process took most of the morning, I felt only mild discomfort during the procedure. The appointment began with a counseling session, a wait while the drugs required to soften my cervix began working, and the actual procedure.
The pregnancy had been confirmed during a previous appointment. I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant. After the procedure we had lunch and drove back to our apartment. I felt no ill effects immediately or in the days following. During the drive, we discussed what had happened at length.
Though we both firmly agreed it had been the right choice for us, we did not want to go through a similar situation in the future. Armed with information and birth control, we became slightly fanatic about contraceptive use. We were married a short time later and both began graduate school to pursue our doctorates.
Kay’s Second Unplanned Pregnancy & Medical Abortion
Seven years later, in 2013, I was prescribed 4 weeks of antibiotics for a severe chest infection. I had been assured by my primary care physician that despite what I had heard, the antibiotics would not interfere with my birth control.
When my period did not arrive at the end of the month as expected, however, my husband and I realized that we had been misinformed. We discussed what we should do. We were both overwhelmed with our graduate studies and I was going to be leaving the country for research.
Frustrated to find ourselves back in the same position, but agreeing that it was the right decision,
I again called Planned Parenthood. At that point, I was less than 5 weeks pregnant.
The Medical Abortion Pill Option
When I inquired about a medical abortion, I was told that it was too early to exercise that option. I had to have an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and I wasn’t far enough along for the technician to be able to do so.
Incredulous, I asked “so, you want me to be more pregnant before I can terminate my pregnancy?” After checking with her superiors, the woman on the phone confirmed that was the case. I scheduled the ultrasound for the next available time (after I was sufficiently pregnant by their standards) for two weeks later.
When I went to the appointment, I was again left alone (my spouse was not allowed to come past the waiting area) for an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound that took nearly 45 minutes.
Planned Parenthood’s Medical Abortion Pill Video
After the pregnancy was finally confirmed, I had to watch a video on the medical abortion pill.
The video described the process very superficially and compared a medical abortion to a “heavy period”.
After watching the video and having a consultation with a registered nurse, I scheduled my appointment for the next week (again the earliest available) to receive the medication.
I also assumed, incorrectly as I detail below, that I would receive the rest of the information about the medication at that point from a physician.
The Cost – The Process – The Consultation
On the morning of my appointment, my spouse drove me to the clinic, I paid the $450 for the medication and we waited for my name to be called.
I was alone when I met with the physician. In less than two minutes the physician covered the four medicines he was giving me (phenergran for nausea; hydrocodone for pain; mifepristone to end the pregnancy; and misoprostol to induce cramping), the procedure, and what I ought to expect.
I waited patiently for him to finish so I could ask a few questions. When I started to ask questions, he handed me a one-page printout with drawn-diagrams and said, “This will cover everything you need to know.”
Persistent, I thanked him and continued to ask a few additional questions. Obviously frustrated, he said to me,
“Don’t be so anal about this. The hardest part, getting here, is over.
Just follow the directions on the printout.
All the information you need is there.”
I pointed out to him that one of his instructions (not to take any products containing aspirin- a blood thinner) was not on the handout.
He responded by saying, “If you have any problems call the number on the handout and don’t put anything in your vagina- fingers, crayons, etc.- for three weeks.”
That was the end of our “consultation.” It lasted ten minutes.
The Cavalier Attitude at Planned Parenthood
I took the mifepristone in the office and then left with a brown paper bag of my other medications.
Upon exiting, I was asked if I needed any birth control. “No” I responded, “I have a prescription that I am currently using right now, but it failed because of antibiotics. I was told by my physician that it wouldn’t, but here I am.”
A nurse standing nearby said, “The antibiotics didn’t interfere, that is a myth.”
Already annoyed by the cavalier attitude of the Planned Parenthood physician, to her I responded, “Well, I have been having sex with my husband for eight years using the same birth control and in that time I have not gotten pregnant- yet within weeks of taking antibiotics, here I stand.
You will forgive me if I doubt what you say.” With that I left the clinic. My husband and I drove home.
Planned Parenthood's So-Called “Comprehensive” Directions
I waited two days to take the misoprostol. I followed the directions exactly. I took two hydrocodone and a phenegran in advanced of taking the misoprostol.
I held the misoprostol in my cheeks to allow them to dissolve. And I waited in a warm bath (which I later discovered you are not supposed to do because the water might enter your uterus and cause and infection- information again not included in my one-page “comprehensive” diagram sheet) for the cramping to begin.
I also called my husband and let him know to come home. He said he would be there shortly. None of us felt any urgency.
After all, it was supposed to be just a “heavy period” right?
Medical Abortion: The Worst Pain I Ever Felt!
Within 15 minutes of the capsules dissolving, I felt heavy pressure in my lower abdomen and uncontrollable cramping. I was in so much pain I nearly fainted.
Tears streaming down my face I called my husband back and told him I was dying. I told him to come home as fast as possible and I hung up.
I have a very high pain tolerance. I once spent half-a-day hobbling around on what I later discovered was a broken ankle before going to the emergency room and having them give me Tylenol (which was enough for me to feel fine).
This pain was unimaginable. Indescribable. It was the worst pain I have ever felt. With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet.
I felt nauseated, dizzy and light-headed. By the time my husband arrived home a few minutes later, the water in the tub was colored red by blood and our dog was barking like mad in-between my screams.
Planned Parenthood's Advice – This was Normal?
My husband immediately called the emergency/informational number listed on the paper they had given us.
He described the situation to them and they responded that this was “normal” and I did not need to go to the hospital.
They recommended that if I was “uncomfortable” that I take more hydrocodone. They also told him that I should not be in the bath tub due to the risk of infection.
Frustrated, he hung up the phone and lifted me up. Unable to stand on my own due to the pain, he held me in the shower to rinse off the bloody water and carried me to our bed. He got several towels and laid them underneath me and gave me two more hydrocodone. The additional medication (keep in mind- four hydros in less than 90 minutes) barely cut the pain.
I faded in and out, shivering and sweating.
He laid next to me while I went through the worst experience of my life.
I was horrified.
Why hadn’t anyone told me that it would be like this?!
My husband cleaned up the towels, wiped the blood off of me, and changed the sheets. He had to dress me because I was too weak from all of the pain. I took two additional pain pills and finally fell asleep.
Bleeding for Weeks – Embarrassment – Depression
I still bled for the next five weeks. Sometimes it would just be spotting, but at other times there would be gushes of blood.
One afternoon, about a month later, I was getting out of the passenger seat of our car. We had just had lunch. As I was getting up, I felt a gush. Shocked, I thought I had somehow peed my pants. I told my husband in the driver’s seat.
Surprised at my sudden lack of bladder control, he told me to stand up. When I did, we both realized that the seat of the car was covered in blood.
There was blood everywhere- on the seat, on the floor of the car, on the back of my skirt, down my legs (and completely soaked through the mega-pad Planned Parenthood had recommended).
It all had happened in just a few seconds. He told me to go inside and to lie down. He called the number again, was told that this was “normal” and that I didn’t need to go to the hospital unless it happened continuously (i.e. unless I was hemorrhaging).
While I slept, exhausted, my husband spent the next few hours cleaning the car as best as he could. Though less dramatic, there were other times when I would bleed though both my pad (you aren’t supposed to use a tampon during this period) and my pants during meetings.
Embarrassed, I spent most of my time depressed and hiding at home.
The whole ordeal was awful.
Kay’s Anger Toward Planned Parenthood & Concerns about Informed Consent
Sometime after the abortion, I spoke to a friend about my experience.
She agreed but responded that Planned Parenthood probably didn’t want to “scare me away from having an abortion.”
As an ardent supporter of women’s rights, I can understand wanting to help women make the difficult choice to end their pregnancy, but I disagree that such support should come at the expense of fully informing them.
If I would have had all of the information, I would have rescheduled and opted for the less expensive surgical abortion option.
Instead, at this point, the experience was so traumatic that I have told my husband I never want to be pregnant again. Maybe I will change my mind. I hope so.
What I keep thinking about is, “What if I had been alone?”
Kay Shares Her Thoughts About the Abortion Pill Risks Website
I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be a teenager or even a young woman going through that experience. I am extremely grateful that I had the support of my spouse.
Where I actually received the medication was the Planned Parenthood: Georgetown Health Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I realized after going through your website that I was given an off-label procedure, but I was never informed of that fact.
I hope my story helps.
All the best.
Page Last Updated: September 9, 2013