Story No. 258: Provider from Washington

My sister in law recently had an abortion, and gave me permission to share her story with you. As a physician, I was extremely surprised by the difficulty and misinformation she was given by her provider.

She lives in NYC (Brooklyn) and learned in July that she was pregnant. She has three children already (ages 5, 7, and 9) and knew she was done with childbearing so decided she wanted to have a termination.

After talking with me about her options, she decided to make an appointment with her local ob/gyn. She is a teacher and was working in a summer camp in upstate New York for the summer so made an appointment to make the two to three hour train ride back to the city to see her ob/gyn. She was seven weeks pregnant at the appointment, and her ob/gyn told her she was too far along to have a medication abortion and had to have the surgical procedure in the operating room.

I was shocked at this misinformation. My sister-in-law has had three previous C-sections and thought this was the reason for the caution her ob/gyn was exercising. She didn’t know what to do. I told her she could go to Planned Parenthood or see another provider in the city if she wanted to have the medication abortion and that it was completely safe to have the procedure in an office because her pregnancy was very early. She opted for the surgical procedure because of the traveling/scheduling nightmare of trying to obtain a second opinion and her desire to get it done ASAP.

One month later, she calls me and asks me what to do because it’s been a month since her abortion and her provider wouldn’t put in an IUD immediately after the surgical abortion because of a billing issue. So, she had unprotected sex again and took Plan B immediately, but was still worried and wanted advice.

I told her to call her provider right away to ask for copper IUD for emergency contraception and long term birth control plan. She saw her provider on day three after unprotected sex and her provider told her she couldn’t give her a copper IUD because their office had to order it.

I told her to go to Planned Parenthood, and she did, since she had already taken the day off of work and couldn’t afford to make another appointment (no time and no work leave). She was able to get the copper IUD right away. She later told me she thinks her provider is pro-life. I was amazed that even in NYC, with the financial resources and social support to get the care, it was so difficult and such a process for her to receive the care she needed.