When anti-choice lawmakers in Wisconsin imposed unnecessary restrictions on medication-induced abortions, they claimed they wanted to make sure the procedure was safe. But now that women in the state can’t access the abortion pill to terminate a pregnancy within the first trimester, they’re being forced to delay the procedure until they can receive a more invasive surgical abortion — which can actually slightly increase the health risks for some patients, in addition to putting women through the strain of being denied the right to terminate a pregnancy when and where they would prefer to do so.
Of course, surgical abortions are still an extremely safe medical procedure. But in Wisconsin, they require a more involved process than medicine-induced abortions, forcing women to make several trips to a doctor’s office and denying her the opportunity to choose where she would prefer to terminate her pregnancy.
That’s exactly what happened to Samantha, a Milwaukee-based woman withholding her last name to protect her privacy. As the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports, the state’s new law prevented Samantha from accessing the RU-486 abortion pill in the privacy of her own home — and ultimately made the experience a more emotionally stressful one than it would have been otherwise:
Samantha later learned that state lawmakers were planning to change the rules for medication abortions, which could make it more difficult to obtain follow-up care.
“That was really scary,” said Samantha, who decided to wait several weeks to have a surgical abortion as she juggled work and school. She was fatigued and depressed. [...]
Samantha said that in addition to a medication abortion being available earlier, the procedure would have afforded more privacy. During her surgical abortion, she said, there were “six other people in the room,” including medical students.
“It was really overwhelming and obviously painful, too,” she said. “I really wish I could have had the privacy of being in my own room and dealing with just the people affected, just me and my partner.”
Nicole Safar, the public policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, explains that many women do prefer earlier, medication-induced abortions for the privacy they offer. “More than the physical piece, for many women medication abortion is the right choice for her entire self — emotionally, psychologically,” Safar told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. “Many women would prefer to go through the process at home, with their family. That’s a huge piece of it you can’t really quantify.”
But since the state law took effect in April, Planned Parenthood clinics across the state haven’t been able to offer medication abortions to their patients — which means that countless women like Samantha are being forced to either have a surgical abortion or travel across state lines to obtain the abortion pill. The women’s health organization is suing the state to overturn the law and restore women’s access to medicine-induced first-trimester abortions.
Making the RU-486 pill widely available has been proven to effectively lower the rate of later-term abortions, since it allows women to make their reproductive decisions as soon as possible. Nevertheless, anti-choice lawmakers insist on imposing unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion and the medical professionals who administer it, even at the expense of women’s privacy and emotional well-being.