Waiting for an abortion

Why do women wait months to get an abortion?

Surely they know postponing a procedure only makes it a more expensive procedure, not to mention making it that much harder for the developing fetus to endure.

This is, of course assuming, that the woman has already made up her mind and is not flip-flopping as to what to do.

Denial can be very powerful. “Maybe if I wait, I’ll miscarry, or my period will start, or…” I had a friend who denied that she was pregnant for MONTHS.

Abortions aren’t exactly cheap. A first trimester abortion costs anywhere from $365-$445 for a medical abortion (RU486 or the abortion shot), up to $365-$555 for a surgical one here. As you can see from that page, fees escalate the farther along the pregnancy continues.
As it’s not generally covered by insurance, sometimes the woman needs time to come up with the money. Thus, things may progress.

Even if it’s a decision that the woman wants to make, there are scheduling concerns. Maybe she can’t get time off work immediately, or has small children to care for, etc. Too, there are not exactly abortion clinics on every corner. That site I linked to? One of only a handful of abortion providers in IL. Contrary to popular belief, not every Planned Parenthood location does abortions, and of the ones that do, they may not do them every day, and they may have full schedules, again, neccessitating a wait.

And–I know you’ll think this is impossible in today’s health-focused 21st century world, but–some women take three or four months of missed periods just to realize that they’re pregnant. Busy women–working hard, stressed out–don’t always pay a whole lot of attention to their periods. When it starts, you notice, and you put on a Kotex. When it doesn’t start, you don’t notice, because you’re busy.

Then maybe one day it occurs to you that your slacks are getting a little tight, and you try to cut back on the carbs a little more, and still your pants are tight, and you work out a little more. But still your pants are tight. And you can’t figure it out.

And then suddenly your subconscious mind pokes you, usually in the middle of the night. “Had a period lately?” And you leap out of bed and go get your daybook. And it’s, “Oh. My. God.”


Big assumption there.

Contrary to popular belief, I doubt you’ll find many women for whom the decision was a completely calculated, rational one. The whole situation is fraught with emotion and soul searching.

Not to mention the logistical/financial considerations, as mentioned by tygre.

A co-worker of mine didn’t realize until the 5th month that she was even pregnant. She’d never had regular periods to begin with, and she was having other medical issues at the time which were messing with her menstrual cycle. These issues were bad enough that her doctor felt it necessary to perform surgery on her, even while she was 6 months pregnant. (She never considered aborting the baby, but if she had, I don’t imagine there were too many places that would have done it.)

A close family member of mine has had 3 abortions. Each time she desperately wanted the baby, but well, she’s never had the best judgment in her choice of partners, so each time it quickly became apparent that the sperm donor was not going to be terribly supportive. It took a lot of angst and back-and-forth before she decided to have the abortion. Angst and back-and-forth take time. Figure it can easily take a month or 2, even if you’re getting pregnant on purpose, to figure out that you are. Then add a few weeks for back-and-forth and angst, and another few weeks for scheduling, and even in a major city like Chicago with options available, you can see how one might end up smack in the middle of one’s second trimester, further limiting one’s options. And that’s without the money issues that many women have, which are exacerbated by the need for a more complex second-trimester abortion.

Let me add confirmation to the statements that it can take a number of months before a woman even suspects she’s expecting. I personally know three married women who were well into their 2nd trimester before an inking of the fact entered their minds. (All subsequently bore live and very much loved children.) In two cases, for the record, they’d had tubal ligations. The third had various hormone problems, had conceived one son 15 years before, and had been told she was infertile. I know second hand of another who was told she had a tumor. To everyone’s surprise the tumor turned several months later to be a change-of-life surprise baby.

God, must we shoehorn political buzzwords into our everyday conversations?

It’s a political buzzword now?

Is “knee-jerk” permissible?

Some women “spot”, sometimes pretty heavily, during a pregnancy. This can be mistaken for a light period.

I used to be a patient escort at a women’s clinic which offered abortions. Most of the women who offered anything at all on the subject said that they had spent a lot of time on the decision to abort. None of them were really happy about the decision, but most were glad that the option was available to them.

Don’t forget that it’s a life-and-death decision.

I believe women are intrinsically entitled to the authority to make that decision (i.e., I do not recognize the right of any society or government to take it away, it’s an unalienable right), but it’s a matter of significant gravity.

It’s so hard to understand how some women don’t realize they’re pregnant. The first and only time I was pregnant, I realized very early on that something wasn’t right. And it didn’t take me long to decide what to do. Two days after the positive test, I had an abortion. And since I had it so early, it was very inexpensive and relatively painless.

Your experience is not universal. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 20 years of medical practice, it is that there is no single experience that everyone perceives in the same way. And experiences which are mot profoundly life-impacting, like those involving reproduction, seem to show the widest ranges of variation.

My mother was pregnant for almost 3 months before she even knew (not with me, I was about 11 at the time). Because of various fertility problems, she was supposed to be unable to get pregnant at the time, and so my parents had basically not used any kind of protection since I was born. She missed a few periods, had some spotting, and assumed, that at about 40 or so, she was having menopause symptoms. Like **Duck Duck Goose ** mentioned, she didn’t notice until her clothes started getting too tight for no reason.

She didn’t have an abortion, but ended up miscarrying anyway (she would’ve kept it).

There are also women who have very few symptoms of pregnancy, especially for the first few months, or symptoms that are easily mistaken for other things.
Nausea can easily be explained by many other causes besides pregnancy, and many early signs of pregnancy (bloating, fatigue, etc) are also symptoms of PMS.

Also, for some women, there might be reason to keep it in the beginning - they think it will help them keep their man (bad reason, but some people still use it), they think they will have support they end up not having, etc.

And yes, some (many, I’m sure) “flip-flop” over whether or not it’s really what they want, or need, to do. While I’ve been careful and lucky enough to never have been in the situation, I’m sure it’s not an easy for most to make in a matter of weeks.