Cutting Corners


This image
makes me recall a conversation with a former friend about a year ago, in which she (a chronic procrastinator, with her piles of unpaid parking tickets & overdue power bills) expressed total shock at the concept of late-term abortions, musing about what kind of person would “just wait around”until the last minute to schedule an abortion.

Presumably, the sort of person who can’t afford to take several days off work to have and recuperate from an abortion. The sort of person who didn’t realize she was pregnant until the second trimester. Or the sort of person who doesn’t own a car.

Several months ago, when I aborted, I bypassed all of the above – no gas-guzzling car ride to a clinic flanked with screeching protesters; no awkwardly invasive sonogram. …because I couldn’t afford it.

I was about 5 weeks along. A D&C performed at that stage will typically run you about $350 – that just isn’t realistic for many people, myself included. What was realistic, though, was a $20 dropper bottle of blue cohosh, a handy abortifacient herb.

Herbal abortifacients obviously aren’t as reliable as surgical abortions – at best, the rate of success is still only about 50%. But because clinical options weren’t open to me, I had to work with those odds – I’d put several drops of the stuff in a hot cup of tea each night, hoping for quick results. For several days, nothing happened.

Then came the several-month-long bloody deluge from hell.

I’d use a super-absorbent tampon along with a bulky overnight pad the size of a fucking neck pillow, and I’d soak through them both in under one hour. At one point, the bleeding was so bad that I briefly considered swallowing my pride and buying some adult diapers, but I couldn’t afford those, either.

The most upsetting part of the experience was its effect on my mood – I often felt sluggish or faint from blood loss; as you can imagine, the hormonal roller coaster didn’t exactly alleviate my depression; and my sex drive went down the toilet. In short, it sucked.

The worst of the bleeding stopped around December; from thereon,the miscarriage was just like a normal period, albeit an ongoing period that lasted until early February. My sex drive and mood still aren’t what they used to be; but I’m slowly going back to normal mode. All this bullshit, just because I couldn’t afford a necessary medical procedure.

The pro-life crowd like to suggest adoption1 as an alternative to abortion; and I’ve always found this dishonest – adoption is an alternative to rearing a child for 18 years. You still have to go through that whole pregnancy and childbirth thing.

Hopefully, reading my experience won’t frighten everyone away from herbal abortifacients – because of my medical issue, a surgical abortion would have been a superior option, but it was an option I couldn’t consider. Herbal alternatives are an important resource for women who don’t have the clinical option available. They obviously aren’t perfect, and they aren’t safe for everyone; but they’re an often-overlooked possibility for desperate women considering even less savory possibilities.

Furthermore, given the medical industry’s toxic history wrt reproductive health, we owe it to ourselves to understand how our bodies work instead of blindly entrusting them to profit-driven strangers at every turn. Learn about it – Browse websites. Read a book. Talk to women who’ve used herbal abortifacients. Seek out more narratives.

..and with that, I leave you with my Big Bold Disclaimer: I am not a doctor; so nothing mentioned here is a one-size-fits-all recommendation. Several drops of blue cohosh in a hot cup of tea worked for me; but I’ve no way of knowing what works for you. Maybe you need a larger dose. Maybe you need a different herb entirely. Maybe herbal abortifacients won’t work for you at all. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you’d like to know more (e.g. where/how to obtain certain herbs, which to steer clear of, and so on); but in the end, you have to educate yourself.

1. Adoption wouldn’t have been an option for me, anyway – a doctor’s visit (interestingly, paid for by my now-estranged parents’ insurance) revealed that the pregnancy was abnormal, which is why I bled so heavily & for so long.

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