It is appalling the lenghts anyone has to go through to get quality medical care in thw United States if they are un- or under-insured.
This is most especially true if you are a woman, where you can expect to pay as much as 30% more for insurance just for checking the ‘female’ box. Women are less likely to be insured, and more likely to need an abortion then men.
So women are forced to make difficult calls to family and friends, asking for many. Many women just say it is for an unexpected bill, rather than share their personal information regarding their abortion. These calls are difficult. Often their family and friends are also economically disadvantaged, too. If the friend or family member knows what is going on, and is not supportive, the woman may receive a lecture instead of help.
Women have to gp through the few belongings they might have to figure out if there is anything they could pawn or sell. Often they sell valuable jewelry with significant sentimental value. Or they sell a laptop they were using for online classes, hoping it would lead to a job, or that they were using to look for a job. They might sell a television, which was the only source of entertainment their children had.
These decisions take a great toll on the women, who are already stressed out about feeding their family, getting by, and are heavily shamed for their decision.
There are several unique stressors that are impacting the womans mental health. 1. The societal shame the woman is told she should experience due to her decision. 2. The stress of having to get an extraordinary amount of money together in a short amount of time. 3. The fear of judgement, or actual judgement. 4. The fear of others finding out. In addition to 5. The stress of her everyday life. If the woman is facing a pregnancy due to rape, incest, or abuse, her stress increases.
This is a time when a woman should be supported, above all else. This is where abortion funds can help out.
I always refer a patient to Exhale, and to Faith Aloud if she indicates she is a person of faith. But often women wait until after the abortion is over to address their stress.
A funding call can be extremely stressful for the woman. She is being asked to have uncomfortable conversations about money with family and friends. She is being asked to part with what few valuables she may have. She is being asked to do odd jobs, ask for an advance on her pay, and other wise go to great lengths to get as much money as she can. And she is being told to do this by someone who is on her side.
We need to incorporate first-responder counseling on self-love and self-care while on the phone with these women.
This can include just listening to them, affirming their feelings and validating their stress.
This can include giving them tools to help deal with this stress. Some tools I commonly suggest are going on walks while listening to uplifting music, reading a happy book, making a list of all the things she loves about herself, and ensuring she is getting enough sleep and food.
I often establish some sort of plan with the caller. Here are the things I often suggest are in that plan:
1.) Creating a schedule for coming up with funds that includes pre-planned breaks (ex: 10am-11pm Call Family Members, 11:00AM-11:30 take a hot bath to relax. 11:30-1:00 pm – search for things that can be sold or pawned). Also, the schedule should include meals, and at least 8 hours of sleep.
2.) Write letters to herself, her friends and family, and to the fetus if she chooses (I’ve heard callers refer to the fetus as their “spirit baby” or “water baby” and it helps them to write a letter directly to it if they feel they need forgiveness). Write a letter explaining why they are doing what they are doing, how they feel about it, and their thoughts and feelings about it. Because of the stigma that anti-choice forces on abortion, many women feel like they should be ashamed, but aren’t ashamed, and then feel guilty because they aren’t ashamed. These women often write letters reflecting this lack of shame, and reflect on that.
3.) Find time to do some exercises or stretches. Exercising and stretching releases happy chemicals, and that can make you think clearer. Going for a brisk walk, a jog, or doing some simple stretches in the living room, or in a park, can release tension.
4.) Talk with a friend or family member who is 100% supportive. If there are no friends or family members the caller feels comfortable confiding in, make sure the caller has the numbers for Faith Aloud, Connect & Breathe, Exhale, Backline, and other talk lines specific to their situation (ex: RAINN). NAMI talkline is a good one, too, to refer them to for general mental wellbeing.
Share your tips in the comments!