A letter to a "care" team

(Published with the consent of the subject of the letter)

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter with anger in my heart. This may dissuade you from reading on, but it is a necessary disclosure. I am writing on behalf of a friend who is incapacitated by pain she suffered at the hands of your “care” team. I emphasize care here as it will become evident that the services she received were devoid of it.

Today, my friend had a surgical abortion. As you are aware, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not an easy one. Our culture’s dominant narrative has saturated the experience with stigma and shame. So much so, that it is in and of itself a traumatizing experience to many. As such, the spaces that provide reproductive healthcare are expected to be safe, compassionate, and respectful. They are not, however, meant to cause nor exacerbate trauma/ harm. Unfortunately, that is what happened today (October 12, 2018). My friend (who will remain unnamed) went in expecting a “consciously sedated” surgical abortion. She was assured the procedure would not be painful. When she communicated to her care team that she was in pain, nothing was done to manage it. The attitudes of the team were dismissive, and unacceptable.

Today, my friend came to me and said: “I feel fucking traumatized”. Let that sink in. That’s not what you should be providing. She told me: “I felt I was in good hands. I was begging to get a stronger dose of the sedation and they just said it’s almost done. It was so painful. Every minute of it. I walked out sober and crying.”

Today, my friend gave her trust to a team of professionals at an exceedingly vulnerable time, only to be told that she should just hang tight and deal with the pain. Deplorable.

Today, my friend was scared as she entrusted her body and wellbeing to people who had implicitly promised to do their best, only to not be listened to when she said she was in pain. Cruel.

An abortion is a decision we live with for our lives. It is not an isolated event. As such, it is expected that Reproductive Health Providers help ease the weight of making and pursuing the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Today, as my friend left the room she saw another woman waiting. She told me: “I wanted to warn her.” She overheard the team preparing the woman. She told me: “I felt really bad that someone else was about to go through it.” She bore the weight of the decision, the pain of the procedure, and the burden of wanting to warn the next person awaiting this life-altering procedure.

Today, is a day my friend will never forget. The pain seared into her memory, by you.

You failed. Do better.


A concerned friend; woman; activist.