Thursday, July 29, 2010
The other day when I answered the phone at the clinic, a Spanish-speaker was on the other end of the line asking about "the pill that brings on your period." I've gotten used to breaking it down on the phone after chatting with clients who ask for a Pap smear, then end up incensed that the Pap didn't test for HIV because that's really what they wanted to check out, and what do you mean that "Pap smear" doesn't translate into "all things vaguely gynecological"? (But that might be another post for another day.) I asked her a series of questions about "Did you take a pregnancy test?" and "Is this the first period you've missed?" because maybe she really DID want to start birth control that would regulate her period. But no, she definitely was referring to the series of pills that would cause an early miscarriage and soothe the conscience into believing it's only a late period, not an abortion.
Women of all demographics are drawn to the RU486/Mifeprex & Misoprostol regimen because it's kind of like Abortion Lite, but women from conservative, Catholic countries where abortion is illegal and money is scarce especially like this route. And when they end up here, in a country where they don't speak the language and they don't have the time to navigate the laws of choice, they often do the familiar thing and buy the pills (usually only one type of pill--the cheaper one that doesn't really cause an entire abortion) on the street. Of course this is dangerous for a variety of reasons, and it ends up being pricey when they have to come to the clinic for a D&C, anyway. So, on the one hand, I appreciated this woman on the phone calling a clinic so that she could get the medication from a medical provider and be overseen by a doctor.
On the other hand, though, I struggled with the desire to give her accurate information and be straight with her with the lingo of "abortion," not "inducing a period" and also respecting her need for coping with this unintended and unwanted pregnancy in a way that she knew how, and especially, not scaring her off an into the streets where she would acquire the tablets from someone who would fully go along with her "bring on the period" plan. Women aren't dumb, and they know full well that a period of this type comes along with a fetus, but where does that leave as as providers and as advocates for women? Readers or co-bloggers, have you ever been faced with this situation? Do you fully disabuse the woman of this notion of the innocuous pill since eventually, they will end up having an ultrasound that clearly diagnoses a presence in the uterus? (That's what I ended up doing.) Or do you go along with the plan a little bit, allowing the woman to see the experience as she wants to see it?