What was the circumstance that led you to Planned Parenthood?
My husband is active duty in the Navy and we are stationed overseas in Japan. Our only option for health care insurance is Tricare, and because of the Hyde Amendment, it does not cover abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is at stake. I was a few days past 21 weeks when my baby was diagnosed with anencephaly. The cut off for abortions in Japan is 22 weeks, but since insurance couldn't help us we couldn't afford to go to a Japanese hospital anyway.
My only options were to wait and see if my baby would pass away in the womb, be stillborn, die a few minutes after birth, or fly to California to terminate the pregnancy. We knew immediately what we wanted to do.
Because of money and because I would only stay in California for a week, we also decided I'd fly alone while my husband stayed with our two year old at home.
What was your experience with Planned Parenthood?
They were kind, compassionate, and friendly from start to finish. I expected things to be kind of cold and methodical but it wasn't that way at all, not even with the woman at the front desk. Since I had to get a D&E [dilation and evacuation] it was a two-day process, and both days they treated me the same.
How were you treated there?
With lots of kindness and understanding. I'd even say I was treated with motherly care. The doctor that did the first part of the procedure took extra time afterwards to make sure I had drinks and snacks that I wanted, and propped my legs up when I felt dizzy. And while I was lying down for the last part of the procedure, a nurse dabbed away my tears, and the doctor introduced herself and talked to me a little bit. I was tearful and upset and she asked if I wanted to talk about how I was feeling.
I was undecided about getting footprints when they first asked me, and I was glad that they asked again after I had woken up. They brought them to me on simple but very good quality paper and envelope. From beginning to end, I was treated with unbelievable kindness.
When you look back at your experience, how do you feel about it?
Sad, of course, to lose my baby. I still miss her and it still hurts. But it really makes a difference that beyond that, my experience was not traumatic. I've heard other stories similar to mine except for a big difference in the quality of care and how the mother was treated, and those women struggle so much more. It's enough just to mourn the loss of a baby, or for going through a second trimester abortion for whatever reason you had, but add on top of that judgment and mistreatment and I can imagine how much worse it would be. I feel very lucky that at a time of extreme vulnerability I was carried through gently.
What would you wish for other women who were in your same circumstance?
That they could get the treatment they need at home and not have to travel hundreds of miles at the last minute. That would mean insurance coverage. For active duty and dependents, Tricare is our only option, and if we're stationed overseas we are essentially trapped without the care we need. It's wrong that women are treated this way.