Women describe circumstances that led to abortion

By Lindsey Tanner

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 20 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

It turned out she was 14 weeks pregnant, farther along than the anti-abortion counselor had told her. She paid $1,250 for the abortion. Her insurance wouldn't cover it.

She said she developed an infection that kept her out of work for several weeks. That's unusual. Fewer than 2 percent of women get obstetric infections after an abortion and the risk is much higher after childbirth, according to an analysis of national data published earlier this year. The woman said because of the long absence, she lost her job but has since found another one.

A 21-year-old retail worker in Rockford, Ill., was engaged to be married when she had an abortion on Feb. 23, 2011. Her doctor had told her a pregnancy could kill her.

She said she had a rare but benign brain tumor, and surgery had failed to remove all of it. There is evidence that hormonal changes in pregnancy can fuel growth of these tumors.

Now married, she said she probably would have continued the pregnancy if it hadn't put her life in danger. She was raised in a religious family and worries how her parents will react if they find out about the abortion.

She said she and her fiancé used condoms and she was on the pill when she discovered she was pregnant. Her first reaction after taking a home pregnancy test was, "This has to be wrong!" She took a second test and got the same results.

Two weeks later, when she was about five weeks along, she used $550 in savings for a surgical abortion at Rockford's only abortion clinic. It later closed.

So early in pregnancy, she could have used the abortion pill instead of having a medical procedure. But that would have required a return visit to the clinic, something she said she wanted to avoid.

Abortion protesters were picketing outside when the young couple arrived in the parking lot that morning. One protester was particularly persistent.

"She was just blatantly yelling at my fiancé and I. I turned around and said, 'Listen, lady, you don't know what everyone is going through.' She was just saying that I was already a mom and I have all these options — the opposite of what my doctor was telling me.

"I looked at her and told her, 'I'm doing this to save my life.'"

An unplanned pregnancy during an affair with a married man is what led a 36-year-old Minneapolis area teacher to have an abortion, on Aug. 3.

They had been using spermicide for birth control, a method described as about 75 percent effective with typical use.

A missed period and pregnancy test confirmed her fears.

"I cried for like 36 hours," she said. Estranged from her husband, and with a young daughter, she said continuing the pregnancy was unthinkable.

Though she and the man she was having a relationship with were raised Catholic, she considers herself "pro-choice — I just never thought I'd have to make that choice myself."

Minnesota requires a 24-hour waiting period, so she called an area clinic to schedule the abortion, spoke to a doctor and went in for the procedure the next day.

She had friends and her partner had relatives who had protested at the same clinic. But on this day she didn't recognize any of the activists there.

The protesters tried to hand her pamphlets as she drove into the parking lot, but she closed her car windows.

She was only five weeks pregnant, so chose to have a medical abortion, meaning she could use the "abortion pill." That involved taking one pill at the clinic, and four others within the next 72 hours to finish the process. Her private insurance covered it, costing her only a $25 out-of-pocket co-payment.

Before the abortion, a clinic worker took an ultrasound and asked if she wanted to see the image. "I did want to see it," she said. "Just because I didn't get to keep this one doesn't make it any less my child."

"A pregnancy under any other circumstances would have been welcomed and rejoiced in my life," she said.

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