Like some 49% of pregnancies in America, mine was unplanned. My partner and I had flirted with the idea of children, but we had securely filed it away in the “Maybe Someday” box. More pressing in our minds were things like me graduating college, saving up to move out of our crappy studio apartment, my partner starting college, and learning to drive so we could get a car. That's why it was like a punch in the face when I stared at that test; the test I bought for one dollar because I was so sure I couldn't possibly be pregnant.
I rushed out of the bathroom, tears streaming down my face, calling for my boyfriend. I called Planned Parenthood the next morning. I got an appointment for about a week after I called. I decided not to go through with my abortion - I chose to give birth. But this is not a piece to discuss that choice, and how and why I made it. This is a piece to discuss the process I went through in arranging the procedure and the choices I had to make.
There are two kinds of abortions; medical and chemical. A medical abortion is the kind most people seem familiar with, where suction is used to terminate the pregnancy. A chemical abortion is where two pills are administered. The medication is what causes the termination of the pregnancy. For either of these procedures, a woman is required to report to the building and be under the care of a medical staff for the whole procedure. These also require follow up visits to make sure everything has gone according to plan.
I opted for the chemical abortion.
It is not free to get an abortion. I called to schedule my appointment and was initially quoted seven hundred dollars. That was more than I had, so Planned Parenthood was able to offer me a discounted price based on my income. Now, I did have insurance, but my insurance would only cover an abortion that was deemed “medically necessary”. In that case, a doctor would have had to state that having the baby would either result in my death or result in damaging me severely. I hadn't even seen a doctor about being pregnant at that point, so I opted just to take the discount offered to me, which lowered the price to about two hundred dollars.
I couldn't just walk into my local Planned Parenthood and get an abortion. I called in and was told that my location didn't even perform abortions. I would have to travel to one of two locations; one was forty five minutes from me, the other was two hours. Being that neither my boyfriend or I were able to drive, this presented a problem. We chose to go to the Planned Parenthood forty five minutes away and ask for a ride from someone we trusted. I found that I would also have to have my follow up appointments at the same place, so this would mean I would need to schedule even more rides.
My appointment wasn't for three days after I called, and that was the soonest they could get me in. It felt both too long and too short. More than that, I would have to appear at my local Planned Parenthood and pick up a packet. This packet detailed to me what was going to happen to me in either procedure, which was helpful. It also showed me pictures of what my fetus looked like at every stage. The packet also discussed options, including abortion, adoption, and parenting. If I failed to go and pick up this packet, my appointment would have been canceled immediately. The packet was probably the worst part of the whole experience, because I didn't want to hear about my other options.
I ended up canceling my appointment the day of.
I had been told that if I had gone through with it, I would have been counseled by a social worker. The social worker would have given me a run down about what was going to happen to me, and ask if I had any questions or fears. Then I would have had a doctor come in and explain to me, again, what was going to happen. If I had any doubts or questions, it would have been addressed at this point.
Nothing that Planned Parenthood did discouraged me or encouraged me to choose any option over the other. They were open, honest, and just wanted to make sure I knew what my options were. The professionals wanted to provide me with what I needed in a supportive, safe manner. My choice had nothing to do with the organization.
While, in the end, the abortion wasn't the right choice for me, I was happy to have the option. I was really glad to have a safe place to go where I didn't feel judged and where I wasn't scared of the people around me.