Tag Archives: abortion


BRING ON 2023!!!

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m so ready for the ball to drop on 2022. I’m super excited about 2023 and can’t wait to get started!

Now, I’ve never been big on New Year resolutions, vision boards, or anything like that.  As a single mom, I was always too exhausted from the frenetic pace of the holidays to really get excited about the New Year.  Plus, my kid’s birthday falls exactly one week before Christmas, which about doubled my holiday stress levels. For more than two decades, by the time the end of the year rolled around, I was running on fumes: financially, physically, and mentally.

This year felt different, though. Medical issues, bad weather, and rising COVID/flu/RSV numbers kept me home and alone for most of the holidays this year. But don’t feel bad for me. I mean, I definitely missed seeing everyone irl (thank God for Zoom). However, I was finally able to some much-needed rest. And so, for the first time in decades, I finally have enough energy and the emotional bandwidth to actually look forward to the New Year.

I still didn’t make any resolutions or create a vision board because I’m just not organized or crafty enough to pull it off by January 1st. But I do love making lists and writing them down, so …

In addition to all the good I plan to manifest for myself in 2023, here’s a short list of my hopes & dreams for all of us in the coming year:

  1. Federally Codified Reproductive Rights: I know, I know. The recent SCOTUS decision on abortion may make this a pipe dream. But I’m actually optimistic about this one. Even though more than 2 dozen states raced to ban abortion with no exceptions since Roe was overturned. You see, dismantling Roe will work against the radical, far right. Because it’s galvanized all those women who’ve been politically “quiet” to finally join our fight. They finally have some skin in the game. So, I’m hopeful for 2023. Or maybe I’m just delusional and still riding high from getting our first Black woman Supreme Court Justice.
  2. A Reduction in Violence Against Women (Especially Black Women): Admittedly, this may be a stretch given that violence is on the rise worldwide. However, the recent guilty verdict in the Tory Lanez case (from when his drunk ass shot Megan Thee Stallion back in 2020) gives me hope. Remember, this verdict comes on the heels of the “Me Too” and “Times Up” movements. And it follows both the Bill Cosby and R. Kelly convictions, which sends a clear message that times really have changed. In the past, powerful men easily got away with violence against women. Just look how long it took to finally convict Cosby and Kelly? So, this recent win for Meg is a win for all of us. And it shows that are we’re moving in the right direction when it comes to holding men accountable for harming women.
  3. Increased Mental Health Awareness and Resources (Especially in the Black Community): As heartbreaking as it is when a celebrity dies by suicide, it at least pushes conversations about mental health into the open. The recent suicide of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, a famous 40-year-old Black man has done just that, and in a major way. Boss was a multi-hyphenate entertainer, loving husband, and devoted father. His suicide reminds us that Black men experience depression, anxiety, and other mental illness, but rarely have the space or freedom to talk about it without stigma. Boss’ death may just be the catalyst to change that going forward. I certainly hope so.
  4. Better Healthcare and Better Health Outcomes for Black women: Healthcare inequality among Black women is rooted in white supremacy. It’s resulted in untold numbers of unnecessary, preventable deaths. You know this. I know this. And thanks to the recent spotlight on this issue, damn near everybody knows this. So, here’s why I’m optimistic going into 2023: we’ve seen our broken healthcare system pivot hard in the face of a global pandemic, during which all of its failings were laid bare for all to see. For example, the pandemic forced the healthcare industry to increase pay for everyone from nurses to EMTs and invest heavily in new equipment and technology. It only stands to reason that grappling with the rampant healthcare inequity among Black people would be a priority going forward, as well, right? Right??

So, there you have it: my short but ambitious list of hopes and dreams for 2023! The cynical among you may consider this list a delusional pile of wishful thinking. But I’m not gon’ let y’all steal my joy. For the first time in years, I believe that we can make real strides in these areas and change lives for the better. After all, something good has to come from the shitstorm of the past few years, right? It’s going to take all of us to pull this off, though. And it won’t be easy. But I’m ready to do my part to make this happen. Will you join me?


What To Expect Getting An Abortion

In light of the news that Justice Kennedy is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court, which puts in question Roe vs. Wade, or American women’s access to abortion, SuzyKnew! is bringing you the experience of women who have had an abortion.

YouTube has numerous videos made by women who tell their abortion story.  Many are judgmental. The video below is judgement-free and is by a young Sista’ who talks about her experience with both abortion pills and surgical abortion, to prepare women who have made the decision to have an abortion.


Will Trumpcare Jack Up Your Reproductive Health?

As SuzyKnew! predicted, Trump moved fast to mess up women’s health. While the American Health Care Act  (AHCA) – a.k.a. Trumpcare – is “Obamacare Lite” in that it keeps a lot of the contraceptive coverage ObamaCare provided for insurance plans people get at work (probably because it’s not so easy to get rid of), the bill calls for some deep, cruel and politically-motivated cuts in women’s health. Note: unlike some web sites, SuzyKnew! is all about contraceptive choice, and although we may feature some methods more than others, we believe every Sista’ must chose for herself which method and product is best for her.

So, will the AHCA before congress jack up Sistas’ reproductive health? For access to contraceptives, it depends. How do you cover the cost of your contraception? Through the healthcare insurance you get at work? At a Planned Parenthood clinic or through Medicaid?

If you get your contraception from an employer-based insurance plan and your employer has more than 50 employees, more than likely, you don’t have anything to worry about. No hurry on that IUD insertion you’ve been thinking about. But, if you work for a small employer you might lose your healthcare coverage. It is expected that the Congressional Budget Office will announce that it expects 15 million people to lose coverage under the AHCA because TrumpCare won’t require as many employers to cover their workers.

TrumpCare won’t continue the Medicaid expansion after 2020 – which many believe gave us the gains made in reproductive health, including the lowest number of abortions in decades and fewer teen pregnancies. Of the more than 19 million women on Medicaid, 70 percent of them are of reproductive age.  Medicaid covers 72 million low-income Americans of which 19% are Black and 31% are Hispanic.  According to Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally, three-quarters of all public dollars for family planning come from Medicaid and half of all births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid, including two-thirds of all unplanned births.

Cruelly, but not surprising, the bill would defund Planned Parenthood for a year.  This means Planned Parenthood would not be able to be reimbursed by the federal government for women who pay using Medicaid. This would mean, the organization would lose around $530 million or 40 percent of its budget jeopardizing the group’s ability to keep many of its 650 clinics around the country open. The clinics that remain open will more than likely offer services at higher prices. So, not only will this version of the AHCA significantly reduce women of color’s access to contraceptives but also services for diabetes and cholesterol testing, vaccinations, breast exams, pap smears, STD testing, and of course abortions, which are not paid for using federal dollars. As women of color are more likely to get uterine and breast cancer this reduced access to preventive reproductive health services is especially threatening.

If you get your contraceptives from an individual plan instead of one from work, it may be difficult to find a low-cost plan that covers contraceptives or abortion.  The current AHCA plan will allow insurance companies to offer bare-bones coverage covering only medical catastrophes but not contraceptives or pregnancy like Obamacare. Before, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, only 12% of plans found on the individual market covered maternity care. So, having a baby will be a lot more expensive under Trump – perhaps cost prohibitive for many. And, avoiding pregnancy will also be more expensive, if you rely on Planned Parenthood or an individual plan.

Using health savings accounts (HSAs) and tax credits, Republicans will prevent tax credits from being used to purchase any insurance plan that offers abortion coverage.  Effectively, this would mean women earning less than $75,000 a year will not have have insurance with abortion coverage  since there is an economic disincentive to spend more on a plan with such coverage. Insurers who want to participate in Trumpcare exchange will have to drop abortion from their coverage, including in states in which abortion coverage in state exchange plans has previously been allowed.

Many predict there will be more unintended pregnancies and women may try to self-abort with reduced access to abortion. Would there be a rise in uterine and breast cancers?

Yes, the AHCA will jack up your reproductive health. And, if you rely on Planned Parenthood for your reproductive and other health services, go get your IUD or implant insertion while you can and while you’re there get a breast exam and pap smear.

And, while the AHCA is only a bill, call your congress representatives to voice your concern. Don’t let Trumpcare become law and do untold damage downtown.


for colored girls who have considered abortion / when the rainbow is enuf

Yes, Ladies. The title of this piece borrows from Ntozake Shange’s first and most celebrated work “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf,” a series of poems choreographed to music in 1974, a year after Roe v. Wade. Shange’s work ushered in a bold, new way of depicting our struggle as women of color. Mixing poetry, music and verse, it was the result of Shange’s strengths as a poet, playwright, director, actor, educator and more.  Seeing the play was considered a right of passage for many girls and young women during the 1970’s and 1980’s. At the time, it was considered big drama – and still is today.

In a similar way, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to strike down the Texas law limiting access to abortion by requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals which resulted in shutting down large numbers of clinics has been big drama, too. The struggle is real. Stephanie Toti argued the case on behalf of the plaintiff Whole Women’s Health at the young age of 37. It was her first case before the Supreme Court, and will probably be her most celebrated work – like Shange’s first piece – at least for a while. The ruling is ushering in a new way of seeing abortion laws. Reading about the case may become a right of passage for law students in the near future.

Although academic literature states that one third of all women will have an abortion in her life time, the procedure is so stigmatized that few people talk about it. But, Black and Brown women are more likely to have an abortion than their White counterparts. Talking about abortion can be stressful – with a lot of drama. So, considering abortion can be traumatic. But, thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision, accessing abortion can be less traumatic. Abortion isn’t suicide, but for some its pain can only be overcome by focusing on the rainbow.

Photo by Sy Friedman: Ntozake Shange (center), with Janet Leaue and Trazana Beverley, in the original stage version of for colored girls…

The Many Shades Of Beige In My Abortion

If you were pregnant and found out you had Zika would you keep the baby? A friend asked me this when I was in Ghana. I told her I wouldn’t because my personal beliefs wouldn’t allow me to bring a child into the world knowing it would have tremendous challenges that might not be solve-able. I would not let my personal longing to be a mother overshadow a desire to provide any child I had with the most pain-free life I could manage. This is, of course, a strictly personal perspective on things. My friend’s differed. She said she would have the baby because of her religious convictions. In her eyes a life was a life, life began at conception and it was not her call to decide who was healthy enough to be brought into the world. But, she added, the only African country that had seen any Zika cases was Cape Verde and it wasn’t close enough to Ghana for the choice to even ever come up for her.

Now, there is a fervent debate about the role of abortion in the Zika crisis. In the 49 countries where the virus has been detected, most of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean, abortion is criminalized except in cases of rape, incest, and an intense threat to the mother’s life. Abortion has always been a touchy subject. For me it’s a personal subject because I have always been fiercely pro-life. Fiercely. I believe a woman has every right to decide whether she wants to incubate something in her body for the better part of a year and any attempts to deny a woman that right is a violation of her very humanity. Of course, several people disagree. I respect their right to. In a lot of cases I understand their rationale and am moved by their conviction. However, I believe their opinions cease to matter where my personal liberty starts and that no one can dictate anything to me where bringing a child into the world is concerned. Particularly when there is so little help from the people making all that noise, once I birth said child.

My friend is one of those people who believes that when it comes to unwanted pregnancies adoption is the answer. No one says you should be saddled with a kid you are not ready for for whatever reason. Just don’t rob the world of another human being when there are people out there who will want it. I disagree with this line of thinking. Carrying something in your body comes with a lot of hormonal, psychological and sometimes emotional turmoil and no woman should be subjected to this without her complete agreement. Giving birth to a child and giving it away is not as simple as letting someone borrow your handbag or donating clothes that no longer fit you to Goodwill. It’s a fraught process for some and women need to be able to decide whether they want to gift the universe with a baby or not.

With adoption off the table my friend’s next argument was the emotional effect abortions have on women. Here, for me, I told her, the argument starts getting patriarchal. For some women the only emotion that accompanies terminating a pregnancy is relief and gratitude. For others there is a slew of complex emotions that they have to manage with whichever coping mechanisms they have. However, no one has a right to police women’s freedoms to make decisions they might, on occasion, feel ambivalence about. Particularly when that discomfort is largely caused by demonization from the same people who want to police those freedoms. Part of the privilege that comes with being a sentient being is the ability to make decisions and deal with the consequences.

All of this said however, I wish there was a more nuanced discussion about abortion. Particularly after my own personal experience with one. How I came to have an abortion is a simple yet complicated story. I used to be a walking ad for condom use. I fell in love with a man with whom I judiciously used them for a year. Then one day one ripped. A month later another one ripped. Those incidents didn’t make me pregnant but they allowed the argument that the condoms weren’t really doing their job and a combination of the Fertility Awareness Method and pulling out would be more judicious. I had severe doubts but I was in love and in lust and I got caught up in the rabid physical desire and how much better the sex felt. Every month I didn’t get pregnant I became less and less concerned about the possibility of an oopsie. Then I discovered an ovarian cyst and lost my left ovary when I had the cyst removed so the possibility of a pregnancy became even more remote in my mind. Ironically, I started having some severe pelvic pain a year after the ovarian surgery and it was after being diagnosed with endometriosis that the unthinkable happened. I got pregnant. My boyfriend, by then my ex, was in no way ready to have a child. Neither was I. More importantly, I didn’t believe his behavior during our relationship indicated that he was someone I could co-parent with successfully. Okay, cool. We’d just go ahead and do something about the problem then. I was pro-choice. I was a feminist. It would be easy and efficient. It wasn’t.

First came the shame. It was unexpected. What shame? I had done nothing wrong. But a large part of me was disappointed in myself for compromising my sexual health and becoming a “statistic,” another “stupid” person who knew they didn’t want a kid but were too lazy or irresponsible to be proactive about preventing it. Though I had never known that I was judgmental about accidental pregnancies, once I got pregnant the self-loathing I felt made it clear that I supported a woman’s right to choose as an activist ideal but thought of it as a reality that didn’t personally apply to me. Other people accidentally got pregnant. Not me. Not someone who had such a responsible attitude where sexual health was concerned.

Next came the fear. Though I knew for sure I didn’t want the baby, I agonized. I cried. I was missing an ovary and had endometriosis. What if this was my one kid and I robbed myself of the chance to have it? What if I was over-estimating my unpreparedness? Was there really ever a perfect time to have a kid? Couldn’t I and my ex figure out a way to co-parent? My mother thought my having a child was a wonderful idea. My new gynaecologist, who performed the pregnancy test, had printed out a picture of the ultrasound and given me the black and white image of what looked like a tiny peanut floating in a giant slice of pizza. “Look, this is your child,” he had said with all the manipulative guilt-tripping he could muster. When I said I wouldn’t be having the kid he had clasped a hand to his throat and said I was breaking his heart. Why couldn’t I have the kid? With all my gynae problems I might never get pregnant again. The child was a gift from God.

Now I had gone from shame to fear to guilt. The pressure was coming from all directions. I floated in a fog of doubt. But I knew my reality. I wasn’t ready. So I decided to have the abortion. I was a feminist. I was pro-choice. It would be drama-free. It wasn’t.

I was only three weeks along so a surgical abortion, the operation where the doctor goes in and evacuates the foetus and you go on your merry way wasn’t possible. The foetus was too small. They might not be able to make sure they had gotten it all. So a medical abortion was the only option available to me. Two pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, one swallowed, one inserted. My body would expel the foetus and it would be as if I had had an early miscarriage. No anesthesia, no hospital, just me and two tablets. Clean and quick. That’s what I told myself. By now you’ve probably noticed there’s a theme here: it didn’t happen that way. The process was torture. Nothing had ever hurt that much in my life. As my body cramped to expel that clump of cells every hair on my skin stood straight up. It felt like walking through fire. It felt like someone was peeling off my flesh with a scalpel. I was screaming, clawing at sheets on the bed, crying tears so big they felt like soggy grapes. I called the hospital, asking between gasps what I could do about the pain. The nurse on duty told me there was nothing they could advise me to take. After all, she said “It is supposed to hurt. If you don’t feel the pain, then you’ll do it all the time.” The slut-shaming hurt more than the tearing in my gut. I felt dirty. Judged. Exposed.

A day and many soaked pads later it was over. No baby. I had an ultrasound to confirm it. Yep. Empty picture, no peanut. Whew. Okay, now I could move on, I thought. But that didn’t happen. I fell into the deepest bowl of sadness. For months I walked around feeling like I was grieving something. Everything was bleaker, nothing had any edges or any color, no feeling was vivid, no pleasure was real. I was shocked at how sad I was. I was right to do it. I knew that. Why was I sad? What was I sad about? I still don’t entirely know. After about a year it passed. I still feel waves every now and again but they happen rarely enough that I am okay.

One would think this experience made me more uncertain about being pro-choice. Instead it strengthened my beliefs. Pro-choice people who didn’t find terminating a pregnancy easy have no room to talk about their experience out of fear that the pro-life lobby will use their sadness as evidence that abortions are harmful to women. They shouldn’t have to shroud their experiences in the shadows. The diverse experiences of terminating a pregnancy— from exhilaration in some cases, to an absolute neutrality in other cases, to a deep and abiding melancholy in cases like mine, to every shade of beige in between — should be shared. People who don’t think abortions should exist should be allowed to speak. People who need them should be allowed to have them. Women with Zika should have every option possible. As far as I’m concerned it’s that simple. And that complicated.

F.N. is a thirty something free-lance writer from Ghana. She goes back and forth between Accra and Washington, DC

Knowing My Baby’s Cells Are Finding Cures For Others Brings Me Comfort – The Planned Parenthood Videos

Are you disturbed and upset about the series of videos secretly taken by the anti-abortion organization Center for Medical Progress that exposes Planned Parenthood and people posing as fetal-tissue procurers haggling over the price of “baby parts”?  Whether you support a woman’s right to chose an abortion or not, the videos aren’t pretty. They are unsettling in part because they are so clinical.  But, a conversation between an organization harvesting organs from donors and a research lab would be upsetting, too.

That women having an abortion can chose to have the fetal-tissue donated for scientific research is a little known fact now coming to light. In July, Time wrote about a woman who underwent a late stage abortion of a much-wanted baby after she found out the fetus was missing essential organs. The woman found comfort in donating the fetal-tissue knowing her pain could benefit someone.  Now Yahoo Health is releasing pieces almost weekly on abortion and fetal-tissue donations including one that explores the 26-year old man behind the ‘sting’ videos and a recent article on why women decide to donate their fetal tissue – or not to donate it – after an abortion. Even the popular site Whisper  that lets its 10 million monthly users tell their true opinions and secrets is getting into the mix. The site recently asked women who had had an abortion if they had donated the fetal-tissue or not.  One ‘whisper’ asked if someone could point out the verse in the Bible that states God is against abortion. After the Planned Parenthood sting videos, many are using the anonymous site to sound off on abortion.

But, what does this mean for us, women of color?  Whether we live in the US, Caribbean or Africa, whether our governments want to talk about it or not and whether we “whisper” to one another what happened to us, abortion is a reality we’re very much familiar with.  It has happened to us and/or women we are close to. Shaming us, providing misinformation via sting videos or making the procedure more difficult to get will only make the situation worse for women of color.

Also, jumping into the fray Religion News Service (RNS) has highlighted a few key ethical points to keep in mind:

  • The use of fetal tissue in medical research is legal — and scientifically valuable. Vaccines against polio and rubella were developed using fetal issue and fetal cells are essential in developing treatment for Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and other degenerative diseases. Fetal cells are an invaluable tool for the study of eye diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
  • Planned Parenthood isn’t the only provider of fetal-tissue. There are others like StemExpress which claims to the be largest supplier of maternal and fetal blood and tissue globally. Where’s the sting video on them? Fetal-tissue collection is taxpayer-funded ($76 million last year) and $30 – $100 per specimen reported on the videos is a reasonable fee (factcheck.org), less than the thousands of dollars other institutions may charge.
  • According to both religious and secular experts, fetal-tissue harvesting can be ethical, too.

As the fallout from the videos continues to unfold and more people are talking about women who volunteer to have their fetus’ cells used for research, it is clear that the Center for Medical Progress aims to take down Planned Parenthood and doesn’t intend for a reflective, in-depth, multidimensional discussion around the topic to take place. May we find some comfort by gaining a greater understanding and spiritual insight around abortion and the many lives it affects.

Photo courtesy of lifenews.com

How Do I Handle The Emotions After My Abortion? ASK AN OBGYN

Dear SuzyKnew!

Last month I had an abortion. 

I’m 23 years old and am just starting out in my career. The man I’m dating is good to me – I could imagine having children with him in the future. But neither one of us is ready to have kids. I don’t regret my decision. I had to do what I had to do. But, I’m feeling emotional and I don’t have a lot of energy. It’s a hard thing to talk about with my family and friends. 

What’s your advice? 


Dear Reader,

Ending a pregnancy is a decision that many women face in their lives. In fact, an estimated 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion before they are 45 years old.  And it happens to all women- rich and poor, women of all races and ethnicities, and women at different  ages and stages of their lives.  The reasons why women choose to terminate a pregnancy are equally diverse: some are in bad relationships, some, like you, are just not ready to be a parent, some are already parents and find they cannot have another child for financial or health reasons.   Bottom line, it’s an incredibly heavy-weighted decision.

You are not alone.  Many women experience some type of sadness after an abortion.

When a woman has an abortion, it is because something went wrong; and she now has an unintended pregnancy and has to make a life-alternating decision.  It’s a challenging time, often coupled with stress, and sometimes the loss of a relationship.   To make things even harder, most women don’t share their abortion stories.  We tend to keep it as a secret, and there are few opportunities to talk about abortion.

 There are physical changes too. A pregnant body produces HCG, and when a pregnancy is terminated (either through an abortion procedure or a miscarriage) there is a dramatic shift in hormones. This is one of the factors that can make you feel out of whack.  In addition, it can take a few weeks for some of the physical changes of the pregnant body to subside, such as breast tenderness or nausea.

 So are you at risk for depression or some type of mental illness just because you had an abortion?  The short answer is No.  Groups that seek to limit or end abortions have argued that women who have abortions are at high risk of mental health problems, mainly because they regret their decision.  This has been used as a way to discourage women to get abortions.   In fact, former President Ronald Regan famously pressured Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to say that abortions were bad for women’s health.  Thankfully, the doctor in him prevailed over the politician!  Several research studies have been undertaken in response to the abortion-mental health issue.   A 2013 UCSF study found that while many women experience a mix of emotions after an abortion (ranging from sadness to relief), 95 percent of women who have abortions ultimately feel they have made the right decision.   A 2011 study from Denmark looked at the records of 85,000 women who had a first trimester abortion and found that there was no increase in mental health problems after an abortion.

But, even if the research shows no direct cause, the pain is still very real for many women.   I want to share some resources with you.  A great place to start is Exhale, which offers a free, national talk-line that provides emotional support; the website provides resources and information.  As a bonus, the Exhale counselors speak multiple languages including English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.  I also love this (albeit lengthy) pamphlet from a women’s health group in Canada.  They break down the stages of grief and offer some great coping strategies.

I wish you a speedy recovery.  And let me add a word of caution.  Depression can be very serious.  If you are thinking about harming yourself or cannot see a way out, please alert a close family member or friend and seek out professional help.

Take care.


Important Obgyn Misoprostol Drugs Approved In East Africa

As ladies, we know pregnancy happens. And, sometimes pregnancies don’t go as planned.

Labor can be difficult. Postpartum bleeding can happen: postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the number one cause of maternal mortality in many African countries. Also, we can lose the baby through a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Or, we may terminate the pregnancy – have an abortion – for many reasons.

Many things can happen when you’re pregnant. But, medical advances – especially affordable ones that can be used in low-income settings – haven’t been common.

Enter misoprostol. Misoprostol was developed in the 1980’s as a stomach ulcer drug and was not prescribed for pregnant women because it could cause miscarriage. As medical providers began to understand the effect misoprostol had on the cervix and uterus, they began to use it “off label” to induce labor, medically manage miscarriages and for medical abortion.

Many African countries are leading the way in registering misprostol officially for obygn and reproductive health uses. The drug can be administered orally, under the tongue, vaginally or in the rectum. Smaller doses are used for “cervical ripening” to induce labor or prepare for uterine surgical procedures. Larger doses are used for the medical management of miscarriage and abortion with or without mifepristone.The big news is that the East African Community (EAC), including Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, just approved Indian drug maker Cipla’s misprostol. A press release on the topic came out in June. Cipla registered two dosages under the brand names Misoprost 200 and Pill 72.

For more information about misoprostol and its various obgyn usages, see a review on the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Gynuity website.

Mother’s Day Is Over. But, How Do You Make Sure You Don’t Celebrate It Next Year?

Last Sunday, there were many happy people – especially mothers – celebrating Mother’s Day.

Now that’s it over, how do you make sure you aren’t on the receiving end of a “Happy Mother’s Day!” greeting next year? How do you remain kid-free? We don’t all want kids. Or, if we do, we don’t necessarily want them right now.

Assuming you’ve got a good contraception game plan (see Contraceptives for more), it ‘s good to know you can skip down to your corner drug store and get yourself some Emergency Contraception – that’s EC for short also called “the morning after pill” – if the condom busts or whatever…

Yep. No need to shell out money for a doctor’s visit, let alone taking off from work for a  prescription you might not even be able to get in time. The new US law requiring pharmacists to sell Emergency Contraception without a prescription to girls 15 and older went into effect last April.  Just make sure you take your Next Choice One Dose, Plan B, Ella, or whatever brand you chose within 72 hours of the deed. Five EC brands are available in the US. Other countries may have a larger or smaller choice of brands.

Ella – approved for use up to 5 days after unprotected sex –  is the most effective of the EC pills but may be a little more expensive. And, ladies, EC is not an abortion. EC prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. Until the egg is attached to the womb, you are not pregnant.  You can also have an IUD inserted if you can get an appointment in time and shell out the dough ($400 – $1,000), if you don’t have insurance.

On a more sobering note, getting an abortion is getting tougher in the US.  Months after Roe vs Wade marked its 40th anniversary, more states are putting in restrictive laws. But, one in 3 women in the US will have an abortion in her lifetime.  And, women of color are more likely to have an abortion than white women. But, we’re very unlikely to tell our stories.  A piece in Ebony exposes the problem eloquently.

Statistics show making abortion illegal or legal has no effect on the total number of abortions performed in the world.  But, legalizing abortion dramatically reduces the likelihood a woman will die or have serious medical complications from an abortion.  About half of all pregnancies that occur in a year are unwanted, and nearly half of these women chose to terminate their pregnancy.  Around the world, 42 million women choose to terminate their pregnancy each year with close to half of those (20 million) being illegal.

Wishing you another kid-free Mother’s Day – if that’s your choice!


Just Like You (and Savita Halappanavar), I Thought I’d Never Need An Abortion

I’m just like you – or a lot of you. I thought I would never have an abortion.

I’m careful about birth control. Plus, I’m a faithful wife.

Exiting my 30’s, I thought my childbearing days were over.  And, then it happened.  I realized I had missed my period. At first, it took me a while to realize I had missed it because I wasn’t really keeping track. When I realized what had happened, I thought my period was late because I was spending too much time at the gym and dropping weight too quickly. But, eventually, while running errands, I remembered to pick up a pregnancy test kit at the drug store and almost fell off the toilet seat when it read positive.

What was I going to do? Things like this don’t happen to me!

I have a very well-organized and successful professional life.  And, I have a happy personal life. I am not the type of woman someone would point out in the street and whisper to her friend, “Now, there is a woman I bet has had an abortion or two.”  Not that there is a “certain type” of woman.  That’s really a big part of the problem.  Blaming and profiling the woman who chooses to have an abortion. I’m just saying…

I have always had a good self-image. But, getting pregnant unexpectedly made me feel as if I had let myself down.  Knowing that my husband and I could not keep this pregnancy made me question all that I had always believed in. While I never struggled with whether a woman should have the right to have an abortion or not, I simply never thought I would need one.  Now that it was personal… things were different. Where would I go? Who would see me? Who could I share this with besides my husband?  In the middle of assessing my feelings, I found that I was very upset that our culture had made having an abortion something so horrible that women didn’t discuss this with one another.  The fact I couldn’t share what I was going through with anyone effectively reduced my access to good, reliable, up-to-date information turning the situation into a frightening one. I couldn’t remember an episode on Lifetime, Scandal, REVENGE or another TV/cable show that could help me think it through. Because TV shows today don’t discuss abortion.  If they did, the pro-life movement, which doesn’t represent the majority of Americans’ views on abortion, would shut it down. What you see on TV and in the movies is at the last minute women who had unwanted pregnancies suddenly and unbelievably decided it would be in her and everyone’s best interest to have the baby or they lose the baby spontaneously.  No one makes a conscious decision to have an abortion.  But, we all know this isn’t the way life really is.

In the end, I remembered what a friend told me she would do if she ever needed an abortion. I decided to leave my city and travel to NYC to have an abortion at a nice clinic that gave me the emotional support I needed. Also, nice was that I had choices about the procedure: it wasn’t decided for me by the doctor.

But, I challenge you to change our culture and its beliefs about abortion.

The fact that a woman in Ireland – Savita Halappanavar – died because the hospital that was providing her care denied her an abortion to save her life says a lot about how much we are valued as women and how quiet culture and society have kept us.  Savita was brought to the hospital to save her life and the hospital killed her.  But, when the hospital denied her an abortion, did she know her options? Did she know where you could get a safe abortion? Did she have friends and family outside her husband she was comfortable talking about her situation?

How many of you are talking about what happened to Savita?

I challenge you to change our culture and its beliefs about abortion.