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Fighting for More Than Access: Why the Quality of Your Abortion Matters

1 10 17
17.09.2021

Abortion access has multiple dimensions.

There’s the legal right to an abortion, t that doesn’t make it accessible—since January, 16 states have enacted a record-breaking 83 abortion restrictions, including the extreme abortion ban that went into effect in Texas at the beginning of this month.

Then there’s financial accessibility, which is hampered by the Hyde Amendment preventing federal funds like Medicaid from paying for abortion.

But what does the language of access have to do with people’s actual abortion experiences, or what it feels like to have your cervix dilated or to pass the pregnancy?

I have spent six years working as an abortion counselor, offering financial, logistical, and emotional support to clients. From 2017-2018, I interviewed 27 people from around the country about their abortion experiences. They described their abortions step by step, and I asked them what they were thinking, feeling, and physically experiencing at every stage of the process. They told me what surprised them and what made them feel comfortable. Some told me about the disappointment or frustration they felt when their experiences with abortion differed from their expectations.

From my work and my interviews, I’ve concluded that providing better support starts with having more candid conversations about abortion that center bodies and lived experiences. The way we talk about abortion has consequences.

What kinds of abortions do people want? And where do these ideas come from?

Two-thirds of my respondents describe abortion as “normal.” For many, that means they desired a clinical and emotionally detached experience. They echo the words I’ve heard so often in the pro-choice movement: that abortion is health care and that only its stigma separates abortion from other medical procedures. Normalizing abortion is a strategy to increase legal access by decreasing stigma; for many patients, that rhetoric seems to have........

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