The nuts, the bolts and the tenderness.
Yesterday I spent 5 hours in a sexual and reproductive health care facility, supporting a dear friend who found she was pregnant and did not wish to continue with the pregnancy.
I, and she (we’ll call her Astrid) are lucky enough to live in a country where the right to reproductive health is honoured, supported and subsidised by our National healthcare scheme- Medicare.
The service started quite simply with a phone call to a 24 hours a day number for information, support and advice. At that point an appointment can be and was negotiated within 3 days.
A support person is encouraged and that became my role. Then the process begins.
I collected Astrid and drove her to the facility. She was asked to fast from midnight and felt uneasy about driving to my place. The clinic sits nondescriptly, but not hidden, in an ordinary suburb near public transport. Access is via a buzzer which opens the front door. Inside it looked like any other medical facility with couches, a TV, magazines and lush, cheerful indoor plants. There were no security guards and no protesters.
The receptionist asked Astrid’s first name and appointment time and requested confirmation of her via photo ID. Once confirmed, Astrid was asked to take a seat and fill out forms which included a brief medical history, a consent form and arrangements for co-payment.
Once completed this was given back to the receptionist and Astrid and I waited. From a secured door a nurse appeared and called Astrid into the surgical part of the facility. The nurse gently questioned Astrid as to why she wanted a termination of pregnancy and spoke of all options available. These being birth and keeping the child, birth and giving the child up for adoption and a termination of pregnancy. Astrid restated her decision.
The nurse then went on to perform an ultrasound examination of Astrid’s uterus, with the monitor only being visible to the nurse. Confirmation of pregnancy and foetus age was established.
Astrid and I went back into the waiting area where she paid her share of the procedure. We chatted and waited.
Astrid was called by the doctor and I remained in the reception area. I watched people come and go for almost 3 hours as I waited.
I observed that the men who supported the women were uncomfortable, unable or unwilling to sit and wait. They appeared lost without the purpose of sitting in support as they and the women waited for the surgery. I guess men are more comfortable with the tangible and preferred to come back later when their partner/sister/friend was ready to be released into their care.
There were at least ten women that came and went including Astrid. Most came with who I assumed were their partners. One young woman came with her mother and the tenderness between them was touching. The most surprising people that I observed were a young couple. Also in attendance was her mother and his mother. This young woman had agreed to, or demanded, a matriarch supporting on each flank. Her partner sat opposite, looking completely overwhelmed and out of his depth. His mother looked terrified and appeared to have never envisaged that on the cusp of 2010 she would be supporting her son’s decision to support his partner’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. I wondered if she ever discussed contraception with her son.
I suspect she hoped she could outsource herself to a doppelgänger, hologram or avatar.
Alas, that is not how unwanted pregnancies operate. It can be an unintended consequence for women who are heterosexual, sexually active and fertile. Contraception options remain adequate at best and catastrophically defective at worst.
Abortion involves many more people than the pregnant woman. Yesterday I supported one such woman and witnessed many others do the same.
Astrid remains asleep in my spare room. She can remain there until she asks to be driven home. She will be well again in a day or so and with love, care, compassion, ibuprofen, coffee, cookies, respect and support she will be her usual self again.
Why would anyone begrudge her the right to choose?
Abortion happens; make it safe.
Image from here
January 2nd, 2010 at 3:43 pm
Thank you for posting this. It makes me worry less for a day I might need the knowledge. And it’s a beautiful post.
January 4th, 2010 at 2:28 pm
You are a good friend Suki.
How much was the co-payment? I have heard it’s over $300, even with a Health Care or Pension card. It’s a Very Good Thing that abortion is legal and subsidised in Australia, but some people might take months to find that kind of money…
January 11th, 2010 at 8:20 pm
Anne, I am unclear how the payment is made if money is not readily available.
Astrid has means, so she could pay. She paid $230.00 on the day.
I am aware that anyone on a Centrelink Payment can apply for an advance payment of up to $500. Perhaps that may be an option.
January 12th, 2010 at 4:15 am
Anne, do bear in mind that abortion is not strictly legal in all places in Australia. A woman cannot simply say ‘I don’t want to continue this pregancy’ and legally obtain a termination. The treating physician must deem that continuing the pregnancy is a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman, which takes the ultimate control of her body out of her hands. While in a functional sense, physicians consulting women seeking a termination normally make the determination that suits the woman’s desires to terminate, it’s not a sure thing.
February 18th, 2010 at 10:50 am
.. unfortunately these protesters have decided it’s a nice thing to protest outside many clinics, Australia wide for the 40 days and nights of lent….I don’t agree with it at all, it makes it stressful for everyone that attends, works at and lives in the vicinity of the clinic…I work in Sydney..
August 31st, 2010 at 11:25 am
From the comment moderation queue, an impatient, violent nutjob from Jackson, Tennessee, USA, gives us a glimpse into the tiny, twisted minds of the christian taliban:
Followed 2 minutes later with:
Let’s go to the dictionary for a definition of the term terrorism:
Threat no. 1:
Threat no. 2:
Basis of threats is ‘to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.’
‘REAL CHRISTIANS’ like Robert are terrorists, simple as that.
Mind you, neither the author of Suki Has An Opinion nor the SHAO moderation staff (moi) are in any way afraid of spluttering religious fascists from rural Tennessee. In fact, we rather enjoy watching them stamp about in their utterly impotent rage. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Women in the USA enjoy a constitutionally protected right to safe abortion services, whether it makes the veins in the necks of threatening religionuts explode or not- but we rather hope it does. While we wait for the imminent circulatory collapse, we laugh and we point, while strong, confident women exercise the right to operate their bodies by their own rules, not anyone’s else, certainly not those of violent religious extremists in the backwaters of the USA.
December 1st, 2018 at 8:35 pm
Suki has no opinion right! 🙂