Abortion in the US (Canadian)
June 25, 2013 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I am a Canadian in the states for the rest of the summer and I just found out I'm pregnant (Through a pharmacy pee-on a stick deal.) I don't have any real support networks where I am, and leaving isn't a viable option. I haven't been to an actual doctor yet because I'm not entirely sure HOW to see one in the states, but from what I understand false positives are unlikely. I don't want to keep the baby. What are my options?

My last period was about 6 weeks ago (I have a fairly long cycle, so I wasn't concerned until recently). I had to go off the pill recently because I was having pretty bad side-effects and switched to condoms but I guess that didn't work...

From what I understand abortions become more dangerous the later you wait, so waiting until August to go back home seems stupid. But at the same time, I don't have any support here or anyone to take me to the doctor. I'm about 2 hours from the Canadian border, so its an option to travel there for appointments, but that border is not my hometown so I still wouldn't have a support network. Truthfully, I want to never have to think about this ever again and feel like the best way to achieve that is to not tell anyone. So if possible I'd prefer to do that. Is there services for women who don't have a "friend" to pick them up (The websites all say you need someone to bring you to the appointment, I don't have that.)

I'm scared, and I feel like I have to make decisions immediately that I am not equipped to do. I found out 3 or 4 days ago and have been mostly ignoring the existence of the problem, but since it isn't going away on its own, I feel like I need to get proactive. I don't trust anyone in my life enough to tell them about this; I've run through the options in my head and the thought of telling each person terrifies me. I know my b/f would be affected extremely by this, and since I have NO intention of having this baby, I don't see the point in burdening him. It's bad enough I have to deal with this. I get that some might find this morally questionable, but I don't see the point in BOTH having to live with this when raising a child is impossible. (And the idea of someone else raising my child is not palatable to me.)

I don't want to put my location because I don't want anyone to figure out who I am.

I'd prefer no judgement on my decision to have an abortion, but help on how to get one, what to expect, how to not have to tell anyone.

Bonus to anyone who can tell me what to expect from the actual procedure, the internet is scary and I keep finding pro-life horror stories that are making me want to cry.


Throwaway: pregnantintheusa@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Planned Parenthood.
posted by gjc at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2013 [24 favorites]

Planned Parenthood might be helpful to you.
posted by spunweb at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to Planned Parenthood. Find a Health Center is on the right.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:10 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Head to any Planned Parenthood. They can counsel you as well as provide affordable services to you. They'll explain the process and answer any questions you may have.

As for support, if I were in your locality, I'd help out.

Sweetie, this is a hard thing to go through and I wish you all the luck in the world.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Where in the US are you? I think what the clinic is looking for as far as a "friend" is both transportation assistance to/from and a certain degree of keeping an eye on you to be sure you're OK. The transportation part is easily solved with a taxi, and if you can share your location with the mods for them to post anonymously there may be a Mefite that can help as far as signing you out and getting you back to your residence.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [8 favorites]

Go to Planned Parenthood and tell them your situation as you explained it here. Your ability to pay is determined by a sliding fee and perhaps any ins. you may have. Best of luck - this is a difficult time but you can make it.
posted by lasamana at 6:22 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, please contact a mod and share your location. This is one of those situations where mefites (actually, a lot of people) will come out of the woodwork to be there for you.
posted by phunniemee at 6:24 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Planned Parenthood will have a procedure in place for people who don't have a friend to bring them to the appointment.

I've supported people who have had abortions; it has always been a simple and safe procedure for them with no complications. One friend whose general health is poor found the procedure itself painful and was pretty woozy afterward, but there were no lasting effects. Of my friends who have had abortions, all were - like you - pretty clear that they could not and did not want to raise a child. None have experienced strong feelings about the procedure; one has gone on to have children (and I expect that some of the others will in due course).

You're doing the right thing for you - it's not important what would be right for some other person in some other situation.

My friends, in general, have not been concerned with keeping the procedure secret, but also didn't particularly want to get chatty about it - and that has worked fine. They did not need to tell anyone who was not directly involved in the logistics. Like you, one decided that she did not want to tell the sexual partner. (In the long term, your feelings might change, but that's okay.)

If you're nearish to me (Minnesota) or in a nearby city, I can probably either meet up with you or find someone who can, assuming no other mefites are nearby.
posted by Frowner at 6:25 AM on June 25, 2013 [11 favorites]

In Canada the cost of an abortion would be covered, like in Ontario it's under OHIP or whatever it's called these days. This is not the case in the US and you will have to pay out of pocket. If this is am insurmountable problem for you and/or you're stuck in one of the locations in America that is 400 or more miles from a Planned Parenthood, please PM someone in this thread and let some of us help you. Because a lot of us have been where you are and want to help, with no strings and no judgement.

The websites all say you need someone to bring you to the appointment, I don't have that.

This would be the same in Canada too, just for the record. If you can be more forthcoming about where you are, people can be more helpful with options.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [10 favorites]

You can also contact the National Abortion Federation to ask any questions you may have:

"The NAF Hotline is available to answer any questions you may have about abortion, unintended pregnancy, or related issues. The Hotline is free, completely anonymous, and offers services to everyone, regardless of their individual situation.

For unbiased information about abortion and about other resources, including financial assistance, call toll-free 1-800-772-9100
Weekdays: 7:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M. Eastern time
Saturdays and Sundays: 9:00 A.M.-9:00 P.M.

For referrals to quality abortion providers call 1-877-257-0012 (no funding assistance provided on this line).
Weekdays: 9:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M.
Saturday: 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M."
posted by SugarAndSass at 6:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you're in the Chicagoland area (IL/WI/IN/MI), contact me if you need a ride. My address is in my profile.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:29 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've also supported friends who've had abortions. The one thing that happened to all of them was that they had a very strong emotional response immediately afterwards, which in one case the doctor attributed to the massive hormonal changes that take place. Basically, they all cried, but very soon they just felt relieved and glad it was all over. So my input is: be prepared for tears; they're the stupid hormones; you will be fine. You will be fine.

All of my friends are now physically and emotionally fine. One has had kids.

Best of luck, and I'm thinking of you.
posted by nerdfish at 6:31 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

There are also some good support hotlines, since you said you don't want to tell people:

Backline, provides support before and after.

Exhale, provides post-abortion support and counseling.

There are a few others, but these two are organizations I trust to support your decision 100%. Exhale also lists similar resources on their website.
posted by SugarAndSass at 6:35 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

It might relieve you to know that 6 weeks is very early, and you have time to figure out the specifics. In fact, most abortion providers will not perform Dilation and Evacuation (D + E) abortions so early in a pregnancy.

This might not be the case if you are considering a medical (pill) procedure. Planned Parenthood - or more informed MeFi's might be more informative about the timing.
posted by citygirl at 6:36 AM on June 25, 2013

I'm so sorry you feel so stuck. I wish I could give you a hug. (And I'm not a hugging person, even.) Please do reach out for some sort of support; doesn't have to be people you know, but a hotline or Planned Parenthood or whoever. You don't and shouldn't have to be completely alone in making this decision.

Maybe look and see if there's some help for you at the National Network of Abortion Funds wherever you are? I'm not sure if you need monetary help, but at least my local group provide other sorts of help and support too. (Places to stay, rides, etc.) Might be worth contacting them to see what they can do in the way of local resources for you.

Sounds from the car ride like you're nowhere near Pittsburgh, but if you were I'd offer to help. If you can bring yourself to post a location (even generally? like what state you're in?) I bet you'd find some MeFite support.
posted by Stacey at 6:39 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If your "two hours from the border" lands you in the upstate NY area and you need a ride, send me a PM.

For the initial appointment a taxi would be fine, but usually doctors want someone around to keep an eye on you for a few hours for any outpatient procedure, in case of any of the (very rare) side effects happen. I agree with everyone else in re: Planned Parenthood. I'd warn against going to any other places calling themselves abortion providers without doing some homework, as there are a number of places that use that label but whose only purpose is to prevent women from getting abortions.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:42 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I am in southeast Michigan and would be able to help out near here; memail me if so.

If there is a planned parenthood nearby that you can get to, go there. If there is *not* one nearby, then it really would be useful to know at least what state if not what city you are in; unfortunately many "pregnancy crisis centers" are actually religious organizations which will try to dissuade you, often by lying. Planned Parenthood is good, and there may be other clinics near you, but you should make sure of the reputation of the place you go first.

GOod luckand take care of yourself.
posted by nat at 7:05 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, I was just going to second what Inspector.Gadget said. It would be great if you could find someone to keep you company. I know it is scary and lonely and the internet is an awful echo chamber, but truly there are so many people out there who will be calm and nonjudgmental and ready to help see you through this (and also, lots of people who have been through it before!), so you really, really shouldn't have to feel like you're alone.

Everyone is saying 'Planned Parenthood,' and they're right. If you find it safer and more manageable to know a few details before you go in, here is some info:

-Planned Parenthood offers a wide range of reproductive health services, including birth control prescriptions, so when you go in, no one but the clinicians will know what you're there for. The ones I've seen are bright and busy places filled with young women coming and going for all sorts of reasons.

-This has to be prefaced with a big 'I am not a doctor' caveat, but you may be within the window for a medical abortion (RU-486, the 'abortion pill'). You might find that much less invasive and scary than a surgical one. You take some pills, there is some cramping, nausea, and bleeding; depending on your body, it can be somewhat painful (and you are offered painkillers) or it might be no worse than a heavy period. If that is what you'd prefer, there is a motivation for calling sooner rather than later, because they do need to be done fairly early in the pregnancy (don't wait til August.) I believe that a medical abortion at PP can come in around $200.

-My impression is that there are usually two visits, one for counseling and an ultrasound, and one for the actual procedure. When I worked at PP, the procedures were always conducted on Saturdays, and the earlier visit could happen anytime; not sure if that's still the case. The usual wait between the first phone call and the procedure was around 1.5-2 weeks, but again, YMMV.

-I'm not even sure whether to bring this up, because it could totally be a non-issue, but you said you'd been doing lots of internet research, and you're from Canada, so you might have an exaggerated idea of what it's like down here. So yeah...in case this was something you're wondering about, depending on the day you go to the clinic, there might be protesters. There probably won't be more than a handful; there may well be none at all, and they are barred by law from approaching you or coming within a certain distance from the clinic doors. At my PP, there are also volunteer escorts outside making sure that you feel safe and welcomed and no-one is being harassed. Up North (where it sounds like you are) any protestor presence is likely to be very mild. They might hand you a pamphlet and ask you to 'reconsider.' It's annoying but nothing more.

-This might be more info than you're looking for right now, but I really love this essay by a young woman who is training to be an abortion provider. I feel like it gives a really inspiring explanation of why this kind of work is meaningful, and what the motivations are for doing it; knowing that there is someone like that ready to take care of you at PP might help you feel a lot more confident about walking in there and asking your questions.

The thing about living in the US, where abortion rights can't necessarily be taken for granted, is that - as evidenced by the responses above - there are a lot of people who feel pretty passionately about the need to take care of each other. You can tap into that network a little (find someone to ride with you on the cab ride to the clinic) or a lot (someone to stay with you the whole time, or help with the cost of the procedure). Either way, though, you shouldn't feel like you're alone going through this, because you're not.

Take care of yourself. Good luck!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:08 AM on June 25, 2013 [11 favorites]

I had an abortion with the pill method and didn't need a ride. It was nice to have someone there when the cramping and bleeding started, though not necessary.

It seems a bit of a stretch, but if you're in the Portland area, please feel free to memail me; I'll help any way I can. You can get through this just fine, don't be scared.
posted by Specklet at 7:08 AM on June 25, 2013

Ignore the "pro-life" horror stories. I had an abortion many years ago. I didn't have anyone with me. The nurses and other staff were incredibly supportive, held my hand, made sure I was ok the whole time. The actual procedure (vacuum extraction) was very fast, one strong-ish cramp and it was over. Bleeding afterwards was like a regular period, lasted a few days, nothing heavy. I went on to have two wanted normal pregnancies and healthy babies. I also have one adopted child.

I'm nowhere near any Canadian borders but if I were near you I would offer to accompany you. If there is no Planned Parenthood near you and you can get the abortion done across the border do that. If you're driving yourself you might want to spend the night in a motel there. Good luck.
posted by mareli at 7:24 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I can't tell you what to do in the states, but if you're from Southwestern Ontario and you decide to come home for your procedure, I'd be happy to go with you or meet up with you if you want to talk. I've supported a few friends through abortions- (including a midwifery student!)- and I'd be happy to help if I can.

If you do come home for the procedure, it is covered under OHIP and I think some counselling is as well if you decide you need it.
posted by windykites at 7:32 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just want to say - even if the nearest Planned Parenthood is far away or not where you want to go for whatever reason, give them a call. They will be able to give you advice.

As far as keeping it secret goes, make sure you're not leaving a paper trail around your home - don't leave receipts, aftercare instructions, medications, etc. out where people might see them. If you pay by credit card or check, you might even want to be cautious about the bank statement. Also, depending on what kind of procedure you have, you may feel pretty sick for a little while. Plan how you want to handle that with your bf, other friends, work/school (especially if you need to take a few days off).
posted by mskyle at 7:57 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

As an Aussie now living int he US, I can understand your fears about using US based medical facilities as you hear so many horror stories. I have not had an abortion, but I have been to Planned Parenthood for other reasons. They were very friendly and professional people who where more than happy to explain things to me and answer all my questions that must have sounded so silly to them as all my ideas on how these things would be handled in the US had come from movies and the horror stories you hear online, they never once made me feel stupid or pressured to do anything and simply gave me the facts. If you are lucky enough to live near one I would highly recommend going in to see them, they will not pressure you to do anything you don't want to but will be able to answer your questions and give you options based on facts and not on fear. They are also very good at making you feel not so alone.

posted by wwax at 7:59 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Adding my support for Planned Parenthood.

I don't know what it's like these days, but back many years ago, there was a lot of picketing outside many PP clinics by ... we'll be charitable and call them "people" for the sake of this discussion ... which made going to the clinics very stressful. I don't know if this happens at the clinics where you are, but it might be a question to ask of the clinic when you call them. Maybe there's more than one you can choose from, so a little bit of advance research might be useful here. But I emphasize I have no idea to what extent picketing happens anymore, especially wherever you are. It may be a nonissue.

Best wishes for you.
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:13 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live just a few hours from the Canadian boarder in Minnesota, I am a stranger (and male) so really the wisest precaution is not to trust me for actual in person stuff. But! I can direct you personally to people who work for Planned Parenthood in the area if this is the area you are in, one of my best friends works in the office in Duluth MN. (via MeMail or regular email is in profile)
posted by edgeways at 8:18 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

One note of caution - there are pregnancy "crisis centers" or "aid centers" that are really pro-life advocacy groups masquerading as medical clinics. They will do anything to delay your pregnancy termination past the point where you can legally get an abortion. Very underhanded stuff - telling you you have to come back for repeated tests/counseling/paperwork, things like that. Don't go to one - you can tell because they never actually mention abortion on their websites, just "options." You want Planned Parenthood or another legitimate abortion provider, who is part of NAF and publicly offers pregnancy termination.

This early on you can still get a medical abortion with pills. If you wait a few more weeks, they will do a "surgical" D&E- essentially they relax your cervix and then suction out the contents of your uterus. Sounds scary but some say it's actually preferable to the medical abortion - over quickly and less painful.

Hundreds of women have spent their entire lives fighting for this procedure to be legal and available so that when something like this happens, you can solve it quickly, safely and discretely. You should feel confident about handling this the way you want to.
posted by amaire at 8:39 AM on June 25, 2013 [14 favorites]

For stories and information about the procedure, there is a website of first person essays at www.imnotsorry.net. People write about the process and their reactions to it in a very pro-choice manner.
posted by Dynex at 8:46 AM on June 25, 2013

About 2 hours from Canada could be Rochester, NY or Bismark, ND with very different implications for availability.

I wouldn't recommend driving up to Canada unless you can stay a couple of days. Some places medical abortion is a two visit process (day 1 and day 3) with a follow-up at about 1-2 weeks. Other places skip the day 3 visit unless you're having issues. It's important that you be someplace physically able to to go to an ER or have a D&C should there be excessive bleeding or other complications (although that isn't very common). The follow-up is important since there are uncommon failures to terminate and other risks they'll explain. On day 1 they'll be evaluating the gestational age (likely with a sonogram) to make sure that you're in the time range that a medical abortion works; if not you'd need to have D&C. The sonogram also makes sure that you don't have an ectopic pregnancy, which would be handled differently. I have no idea what the insurance or privacy implications of having the procedure in Canada would be, but you could call and ask.

A lot of women feel overwhelmed before an abortion, and afterwards many have temporary emotional reactions and feelings of sadness or guilt accompanied by relief. It's pretty common to lose composure immediately after a D&C; it's a stressful point in a woman's life and there's a huge hormonal change happening. You shouldn't feel that a reaction like that represents any kind of personal problem. It'd be nice to have a shoulder to cry on, but I've seen women without that luxury be OK.

A good source for no-nonsense reasonably advanced information is here; this website is becoming a standard introductory medical handbook and is highly trusted. They also link to good sites. I am pretty sure that link works for non-subscribers; if someone says it doesn't I will find another. Don't pay for the subscriber access articles it links; it's all shop talk.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If "two hours from the border" places you in the Seattle area, memail me.
posted by KathrynT at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2013

Nthing Planned Parenthood. And if you're near Houston, MeMail me. I can go with you if it's on my day off, or I know a few other people who would be happy to help.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2013

Oops, missed the bit about being 2 hours from the border.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are several Morgentaler clinics not too far from east coast border, if you're near there. Date cutoffs range by province, the earliest is usually 16 weeks. Don't be afraid to call them! I've worked at at a clinic that provided abortion services and the staff always tried to help anyone who called.
posted by ghost dance beat at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2013

[Do not turn this into anything other than the question which is being asked.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:14 AM on June 25, 2013

The so-called "pro-lifers" want you to be scared by their horror stories; that's why they'll twist the facts to make it sound as gruesome as possible. As so many people have said above, contact Planned Parenthood: they'll counsel you and make sure to take care of you, not somebody's agenda.

As for keeping it secret: see if you can pay by cashier's check. If there isn't anyone who would see your bank statements/check stubs or credit card statements, then you really don't have to worry; but if there is someone you want to keep this from who would see your financial papers --- if you're on your parents' credit card or they're cosigners on your checking account, for instance --- go to a bank (any bank) and pay that bank in cash for a cashier's check for the amount needed.

And I'm probably too far away (I'm in northern Virginia), but if there's anything I can do, let me know.
posted by easily confused at 10:05 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nth-ing Planned Parenthood. No matter what your story is, odds are that they have seen it before and will take care of you with all of the compassion you deserve in a judgment-free zone.

Nth-ing beware the crisis pregnancy center. They often set up shop right next to Planned Parenthood to try to confuse you when you come in for your appointment.

Nthing there might be people yelling and holding signs in front of Planned Parenthood. But if you call ahead, they might be able to tell you if there is another entrance away from crazy people. In my city, there are also people who volunteer to escort women from past the crazy people. You don't need an escort and hopefully there will not be crazy people but it's definitely possible. Also, because of the crazy people, you might have to walk through a metal detector when you go. Don't sweat it - people go through metal detectors here for everything.

Nthing you're going to be okay and this rando on the internet supports you, whatever you decide to do. Best wishes.
posted by kat518 at 10:38 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scarleteen has a good guide on abortion, what to expect, and some information to counter scare stories you may have seen.

I am in the SF Bay Area without a car and your clue about where you are seems to indicate I'm not a good choice to directly support or help you out, but let me know if you think I can help. Memail is just fine.

Good luck, and I support you too, and whatever you decide to do.
posted by kalessin at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2013

Rochester NY. Woman, PM if needed.
posted by oflinkey at 11:44 AM on June 25, 2013

Detroit woman here, also PM if needed.

Note: I'm in California for the rest of the month, but I know a few places in Detroit that are around my university that are available via public transportation and would be able to help you.
posted by Shouraku at 1:03 PM on June 25, 2013

Google "abortion clinics." Can you say where you are? People can help look for one near you then and possibly offer support/car ride, etc.
posted by discopolo at 1:56 PM on June 25, 2013

You're probably not in NYC, but if it's easy for you to get there, PM me and I will be your appointment friend.
posted by miskatonic at 2:13 PM on June 25, 2013

I'm in Ireland and so useless to you but my sister is in Providence, RI, is a NOW volunteer and able to drive anywhere in the North East. My cousin is a nurse in Portland, Maine and more than willing to be your appointment ride. My best woman from when I got married is behind the aforementioned Scarleteen article linked and is in Seattle. Any of them would be happy to help you; please just PM me if I can help connect you and help make arrangements for you.

And FWIW, my experience is the same as a number of other people here are saying. I've had more than one abortion in the US and while the hormone crash is not a lot of fun, it does pass quickly and the overall experience for me was not in any way traumatic.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:33 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know anything about abortion, but just in case you happen to have US health insurance coverage or can't get to Planned Parenthood, here is a primer on How to See a Doctor in the US:

1. Find a clinic that accepts your insurance by either checking their website or calling them. Most places accept most insurance, but you should still check. Look for local places in the phone book or online.

2. Schedule an appointment by phone.

3. Go to appointment. When you arrive, check in at the front desk to fill out new patient paperwork and show them your insurance information (generally on a card). Visit with doctor.

4. Between your appointment and the time you are billed, the insurance company negotiates with the clinic on prices of the services. This part is kind of mysterious, but you don't have to do anything.

5. You receive a bill anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months after your appointment. The cost could vary wildly depending on your insurance plan.

If you don't have insurance, the process in the same, minus the parts involving insurance. If you do have insurance, that is the complicated part, and you should have someone explain your particular plan.

All the best wishes.
posted by Comet Bug at 5:52 PM on June 25, 2013

I'm a female in the Northern New England area who would be happy to help out. I also work here so could vouch for many other MeFites if that's helpful.
posted by jessamyn at 7:54 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Abortion is quite expensive in the U.S. I had one about 10 years ago. It was about 600 dollars if memory serves me correctly and there's no aid or insurance that will cover the procedure.

The most painful part besides the actual D&C? You're more than likely going to be waiting all day for them to call your name. I remember being in the waiting room by 7 am and I wasn't seen until 3 pm. Really though it only hurt for a few minutes aside from the horrible cramping afterwards, but even emotionally it was a huge relief once it was all over.

Also seriously nthing the warning of "crisis pregnancy centers". They may say they can help with abortions over the phone or even in person until they sit you down and try to scare you out of getting an abortion. Also, watch out for the protestors that congregate around abortion centers on days they offer their services.
posted by camylanded at 6:11 AM on June 26, 2013

If you are in the Seattle area and need a ride or support or anything at all, memail me.
posted by esoterrica at 10:08 AM on June 26, 2013

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