The Return of the Back-Alley

I’ve had a few extremely rough calls these last few weeks. At abortion funds, every caller is in some sort of distress, usually always financial. Women call who are homeless, fleeing domestic violence, who have been raped, who are minors and know they are not capable of either telling their parents or raising a child without that support.

But with recent legislation being the way that it is, more and more women are seeing their choices taken away. Safe, professional clinics are having to close their doors because states are trying to tell them that their closets are too small. Safe, reliable abortion providers are being harassed both by domestic terrorists and by legislators. Right now the only remaining clinic in Mississippi is fighting to stay open, and several clinics in Pennsylvania are fighting against TRAP laws. Viriginia clinics won a small victory, but it the law deters any future clinics from opening.

What does this mean for the women who call abortion funds? It means they have to travel farther. It means they have to get hotel rooms as more and more states pass mandatory ultrasounds done 24 hours in advance. It means more money, when they already have none to begin with.

Unscrupulous doctors know this, and they know desperation can line their pockets. I have had three callers call the fund specifically to ask not for money, but to ask where can they get abortion pills on the internet? They asked for the phone number for the underground clinic. They asked: “How can I do this myself?”

Yes, abortion is legal. But for these women, it is out of reach. It is inaccessible. And that is exactly what the anti-choice lawmakers want. They know they cannot overtun Roe v. Wade. They know there would be dire political consequences if they actually achieved the criminalization of abortion. But they can still have their cake and eat it, too. They can make it inaccessible. In Mississippi they flat out said the goal of their ridiculous TRAP law was not to make abortion safer, to protect the women seeking abortion, their goal was to close the clinic and make abortion inaccessible in Mississippi. This is the return of the back-alley abortion. Women of means will be able to cross state lines, take time off work, arrange child care, and pay for their abortion with a check. Women with no means will seek out pills on the internet that may or may not work (and may even be poison), they will find doctors with little to no training who may end up killing them, or raping them, or destroying their health. They will find unsafe methods, wives tales, or rumors of a way on the internet.

One woman I spoke to broke down crying when I told her the nearest clinic was ten hours away. I informed her that there was another group who could help arrange travel, and yet another group that existed soley to provide lodgings. It didn’t matter. She couldn’t take that time off work. The call ended with her saying she would find another way. She didn’t mean she would go to a CPC and they would magically help her carry to term (cause they never do, the “help” stops the moment you are too far along for an abortion). She meant she was going to risk her life and her health. She was going to seek out a back-alley abortion, because legislators had systematically taken away all of the clinics she could have gone to in her area a few years ago. I keep hoping this woman calls us back.

And I continue to hope that other women in her situation will call us first, before they attempt to find other means of having an abortion. It doesn’t have to be like this. I’ll leave you with this oldie but goodie:

Full disclosure: I am a bit of a naturopath, and I take herbal supplements to treat my PCOS, and would probably first attempt an herbal abortion myself if I ever found myself unexpectedly pregnant at a bad time (a null point due to my PCOS). I would do so under the guidance of a herbal medicine practitioner, and would seek out a surgical aspiration abortion if the herbal abortion failed. This is my own preference. I have studied herbs, their effects and side effects for a long time as part of my own spiritual and religious education. I always, always, encourage the women with whom I speak to seek out a board certified medical practitioner at a licensed clinic for abortion care, and would never advocate that they treat their medical conditions the way I treat mine. I would never recommend to a woman who called the abortion fund that she attempt an herbal abortion, as they are only so reliable, and you have to have an in depth knowledge of not just the herbs, but your own body.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Sunday News Round-Up, Antibiotic-Filled Edition « Women's Health News
  2. Judith Krain
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 01:59:52

    Sprinkle some of your magic dust at wrrap.org!

    Reply

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