Realistically. The bill created with a 20 week limit was a smoke screen. It was for the very reason you stated.
Texas legislators, in order to avoid confrontations from federal courts, so as to not battle provisions related to the "viability decision" in Roe v. Wade. They took the coward's way to construct the bill. The legislators imposed such stringent restrictions on medical providers and facilities, which would be very difficult to meet such standards that most all facilities will no longer be able to operate.
Texas legislators are chicken****s and moral fascists. They are balless control freaks who aren't just after reducing women's rights over their reproductive roles, but to also significantly degrade their rights to self-determination. They believe women should be subservient to men.
I've kept largely silent on this issue with my friends and family because there are quite a few of them who would judge me, if not for my opinion then for the experiences which have shaped it.
When I was 23, and had been dating my now-fiance for six months, we discovered I was pregnant. We had used two forms of birth control and both had failed in epic fashion. At the time, we were living together and struggling to make ends meet. We were the typical lower-middle class couple struggling through a recession. Between the two of us we had just enough money for bills, gas, and Ramen....if we got creative. Coupled with that, I was still untreated for some very serious psychological damage related to my relationship with my mother.
Being pregnant sent me into a tailspin. Money issues notwithstanding, I had repeated panic attacks and nightmares for two weeks because I quite honestly believed that I would harm my child in very serious, significant ways. I was not ready to be a mother. I even questioned my ability to safely carry the child to term to consider any other option because I was so incredibly screwed up mentally, and it was causing physical issues.
After three weeks of debate, I contacted one of two Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortion services in the DFW area (there's one in Dallas and one in Fort Worth). I listened to a recording describing the procedure and the risks and was told that the clinic could only perform the procedure up to 12 weeks gestation because of the way in which the clinic was set up.
My appointment was on January 30th, 2009. When I got to the clinic, there were armed guards at the front entrance that treated EVERYBODY, including patients, like common criminals. We were yelled at, questioned, and herded onto the next level of security outside the clinic's suite, where the treatment was much the same. I honestly would not have been surprised if those assholes had demanded that we consent to searches of our bodies (as it was, they dug through my purse).
Once inside the clinic, the seats quickly filled with other women there for the same procedure. Some were alone, some were with significant others, family, or friends. I was taken to the back where a very rude bitch of a woman tried 5 times to draw blood to check for iron levels and RH factor. After she was done she barked at me to go to the next room, where a vaginal ultrasound was performed to pinpoint how far along I was and where the fetus had attached.
(Side note: That ultrasound was performed BEFORE the law required them, and was done for the reasons outlined above. I had absolutely NO issue with that procedure. The nurse did not describe the fetus to me, show me the ultrasound, or make me listen to the heartbeat. Even if she had, it wouldn't have bothered me. Vaginal ultrasound is much more accurate than external ultrasound that early in the pregnancy, and given the rest of the procedure I'm glad that step was taken to ensure the procedure was performed "correctly".)
So after the ultrasound, I was told to go back to the waiting room, where they said I would wait for up to three hours for the procedure. I'm not sure what they did during that three hours, because I was the 3rd procedure performed and they didn't take very long.
As for the actual procedure:
I was escorted into one of 5 "operating" rooms. The other four were also filled at the same time. The doctor came in after completing abortions in two of the other rooms (I waited maybe 5 minutes). When he entered the room, he washed his hands, verbally berated one of the nurses for selecting the wrong size tube for the evacuation device, and then rather forcefully positioned me on the table. He then looked at my chart, sighed in annoyance, and complained that I hadn't been administered the requested pain meds and he didn't have time to wait for stupid nurses to do their jobs. So the nurse hurriedly injects me with the medication and before it had even had time to take effect, he unceremoniously jammed the tube where the sun doesn't shine.
I have had kidney stones. I had stones in my gallbladder the size of golf balls. I've had major surgery. NOTHING has ever hurt as badly as that abortion procedure hurt. I went to my regular OBGYN the next Monday because I was convinced the doctor had caused injury during the procedure. Thankfully, other than some cervical scarring (which I'm told PROBABLY won't affect my ability to have children later), no serious damage was done. The procedure itself lasted about 45 seconds. The doctor took off his gloves and left the room without a word once he'd finished. He never even addressed me during his time in the room. After he left, the nurse handed me a pad the size of Wisconsin and walked out of the room. I was in pretty serious pain at that point and it took me a minute or two to get off the table and begin dressing. Apparently, this was too long for the clinic staff, because they came into the room and actually YELLED at me to get dressed and go to "recovery".
The recovery room was probably the only portion of the clinic where I didn't feel completely mistreated. The nurse assigned to the room was polite and concerned and did her best to offer us whatever we needed. All of her efforts were pretty much crapped on by the bitchy nurses who kept coming in and complaining that she wasn't turning us out fast enough. I spent MAYBE five minutes in recovery.
In addition, I was not given the Rhogam shot I required due to my RH factor, which can cause problems in future pregnancies.
When I left, they handed me two bottles but explained neither. One was obviously a pain reliever (recognized the OTC name), but the other was unrecognizable. I had to google when I got home to determine it was an antibiotic. A slip with instructions came with both bottles, but didn't explain what either medication was intended to do...just when to take it, and how.
Two weeks later, I had to go to a follow up appointment at another PPH clinic closer to my house. I went to a location in Addison, where I lived at the time. When the doctor begin the physical exam she somehow hit upon one of the injured areas of my cervix and I damn near blacked out from the pain. I was told to stop being dramatic, bitched at when I asked for the prescription for my BC (I had insurance and didn't want to pay them $50 a month when I could go through a pharmacy and pay $15), and blatantly ignored when I asked questions regarding future fertility given the known damage to my cervix (I wanted a second confirmation in addition to my regular OB). I never should have gone to them for follow up, but I thought perhaps the PPH abortion center was different from their clinics.
(Second sidenote: while I was waiting in the exam cubicle (no rooms at the follow-up clinic...just cubicles separated by sheets), I overheard an exchange between two nurses and two patients. The clinic staff had switched the urine samples for two girls and had told one who wasn't pregnant that she was, and one that WAS pregnant that she wasn't. If the non-pregnant patient hadn't been adamant that she be retested, that would have been an absolute disaster for two people.)
So all of that to say this:
While I understand that the new bill requires expensive and difficult new standards for abortion clinics, and while I also understand that we will see a decrease in available clinics, at least in the short term, I fully support that parameter of the bill. My experience was not all that unique. In fact, the 50 girls who had abortions on January 30, 2009 at the Dallas clinic all had the same exact experience, and I'm pretty sure that day wasn't isolated. Not only was the staff cold and callous, they were unprofessional and risky. They did not provide proper care and post-care instruction. And as difficult as the decision to have an abortion was, the experience was the most traumatizing part. I still do not know for sure if I can have a safe and health pregnancy (or even become pregnant, given the scarring). I won't know until we try to have children. I've switched OBGYN's since the abortion and my new doctor has expressed concerns over the way the scarring has formed over the cervical entrance. He assures me that a properly performed evacuation procedure would have involved graduated tubing or slight dilation, which the abortion clinic did not do.
I honestly don't understand how we can simultaneously demand a higher standard of care or facility for other medical specialties while rebuking higher standards for sexual care. Poor sexual care can cause just as much lifelong damage as poor prostate care, poor ENT care, poor gastrointestinal care, etc., etc., etc. A woman's right to choose abortion should not mean that she receives substandard care to ensure "easy" access. Quite frankly, I find it insulting as a woman that other women think the abortion care we receive is fine as-is. It isn't.
Perhaps instead of focusing on how we're "restricting" women's rights, we should focus on how to address the emotional side of pregnancy and abortion decisions. We don't serve women by maintaining low standards, and we don't support them by leaving them "high and dry". So while we go through what is likely to be a tough transition, why don't these "advocates" for women's rights seek out grants, foundational help, or other means of quickly getting clinics up to par, and traveling to areas where women have limited access to provide them with support, services, and solutions? Instead of inciting panic and telling women what risky things they're going to do now, get out there and create calm, factual opportunities for women to better care for themselves.
Now, as to the 20-week rule....I have always felt that there comes a time when having the right to choose is trumped by the development of the fetus. A child that can survive outside of the room is an obvious benchmark to me. Currently, we accept viability to exist between the 22nd and 24th week. Obviously, 20 weeks is a little early. Then again, what's two weeks? If the fetus is healthy, if the mother is healthy, what is the difference between 20 weeks and 22? BOTH procedures would come with significantly higher risk than an abortion performed before 12 weeks. BOTH procedures would be significantly more expensive. As it stands now, most abortion clinics cannot handle the level of care and attention required to perform an abortion so late in pregnancy, so providing a legal roadblock to them doing so just makes sense to me. When and if these clinics improve their standards and meet the new state requirements I MIGHT be convinced that they can safely perform the later-term procedure on a broad scale. As it is now, most late-term abortions related to the mother's health or fetal defect are performed by doctors who specialize in labor and delivery, and occur in hospitals.
Personally, I think there comes a point when a later-term abortion on a healthy fetus carried by a healthy mother is just a little depraved...but that has nothing to do with the safety and legal issues concerning abortion limits.
And sure, the motivation of some law makers had little to do with the health and safety of women and more to do with decreasing the number of abortions. I understand the outrage associated with that. But their motivation doesn't negate the fact that the law DOES have the ability to create safer, less damaging abortion services for women in this state...so I support it.
Last edited by tessaesque; 07-14-13 at 11:17 AM.
"Hmmm...Can't decide if I want to watch "Four Houses" or give myself an Icy Hot pee hole enema..." - Blake Shelton
Thank you for your sharing your first-hand experience.
There is no reason why those who are pro-choice cannot now rally to raise funds. Prenatal clinics that offer more choices than abortion have done this for decades. Much better expenditure of time than collecting feces to throw, anyway.
Sorry for the ridiculously long post...
"Hmmm...Can't decide if I want to watch "Four Houses" or give myself an Icy Hot pee hole enema..." - Blake Shelton
I think I support a similar law regarding firearms. You can only buy a gun in the first 20 years of your life. After that, you're no longer allowed to purchase them. After all, 20 years is plenty of time to decide. I know many countries have much more limiting criteria than 20 years. Furthermore, I support legislation which says firearms can only be sold at Bass Pro Shops. Sure, there are only a few of them scattered throughout the country, but how else can we make sure guns are being sold responsibly by people following the law?
This is my proposal, and I fully expect the pro-life people in this thread to support my reasoning, even if you don't support my idea.
Last edited by Slyfox696; 07-14-13 at 11:14 AM.