Issues

Women recall the physical pain of abortion: ‘In any other situation it would be considered torture’

pain, abortion, forced, human rights

In a pro-abortion book, author Rosie Waterland wrote about her abortion. She recalls getting pregnant through a “random hookup” with a man she saw on a train, saying, “I didn’t have this guy’s number; I didn’t even know his last name.” The baby’s father likely never knew she aborted his child.

Waterland referred to her pregnancy as a “hostile takeover” and her child as “this thing.”

At the facility, she was told that general anesthesia would cost $400, doubling the cost of the abortion. She decided to have “twilight sedation” instead. The abortion worker told her there would be no pain, just “discomfort.” But the abortion was extremely painful:

I was suddenly very aware of immense pain in my body. It felt like someone was inserting a blunt knitting needle in and out of my vagina. It was being inserted deep, and fast, and I wanted it to stop. I was confused, and I couldn’t open my eyes… The pain was excruciating… I felt like something long, thin, and hard was repeatedly being shoved deep into my vagina. It was excruciating.

Waterland says of her story, “I hate saying that, because I don’t want to scare any woman who makes the choice to abort a pregnancy.”

She isn’t the only woman who was deceived by abortion counselors about how painful her abortion would be.

Women describe painful abortions

One woman says that when she asked an abortion worker if her abortion would hurt, the worker said she’d feel “pressure and then something that felt like menstrual cramps.” 

But the abortion was “the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced in my life. I could feel the baby being ripped from my womb. I yelled in pain and the nurse told me to relax – that I was tightening up – and to stay quiet.”

Another woman’s abortion left her “blanched and hyperventilating.”

A third women described her abortion as:

[O]ne of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had… I can’t describe the pain, the nurse/assistant was holding my hands and reminding me to breathe. I’m almost in tears thinking of what I went through. 

Afterwards, she says, “They wouldn’t even give me a Tylenol when I asked.”

READ: Woman who took abortion pill is still suffering years later: ‘The pain will never go away’

Another woman said, “I was informed that it wasn’t going to hurt and it was the most painful thing I ever experience[d] to date. I remember the nurses telling me to be quiet so that I don’t scare the other patients.”

An abortionist who had an abortion feltpain that I didn’t know was possible… You feel absolutely fine, and then you suddenly feel attacked by this person between your legs.”

Another woman recalled, “It hurts so much. It was incredible… They should have told me how much it was going to hurt.”

A seventh woman said, “I began crying in pain, and as I lifted the sheets there was blood everywhere. The pain was unbearable, it was like a knife kept stabbing me in the stomach over and over again.”

And another said, “God, the pain. I was screaming and the doctor was getting worried. “Hang on,” he kept saying, “It’ll be over in just a minute.” I kept screaming back, ‘You said there’d be no pain and you lied!’” 

Abortion doulas, and what they say about abortion pain

An abortion doula, who comforts women while they abort their babies, admits “Some of the first-trimester patients scream and cry and shake.”

Two other abortion doulas describe how a woman about to undergo an abortion asked a doula if it would be painful. They say:

This is one of the most common questions a doula gets asked before a procedure. It’s covered extensively in training, and while every doula has a slightly different turn of phrase, there is a standard approach that the Doula Project and the clinics we work with use. “Do you get cramps with your period?”

They describe the doula as “carefully choosing her words,” and saying, “You will feel something… Everyone has a different reaction but for a few minutes it will feel like very strong period cramps.”

Abortionists on pain during abortion

Even some abortionists have expressed concerns. One says:

Abortions are not comfortable procedures. While I know that they are often done using nothing more than a paracervical block, I’m not convinced this is adequate in all circumstances, and the level of pain control can vary.

Another abortionist says, “[T]hey are screaming in agony, but we just do what we do. In any other situation [it] would be considered torture but we do it, and you know all of us just kind of pack it away.”

Another says:

I felt patients in some facilities were given suboptimal pain medication. Sometimes doctors didn’t wait long enough for medications… to work. In one clinic, extra IV pain medication was offered, but for an additional fee. I worried that women might endure unnecessary pain because they didn’t have enough money.

Records and studies reveal the truth

Records found by pro-lifers in the trash outside a Dallas Planned Parenthood found that:

  •       Over a third of women suffered pain that was “severe” or “very severe”
  •       11% cried
  •       10% fainted
  •       5% screamed

Workers also said 5% “complained” and 10% “overreacted,” showing a lack of sympathy for women’s pain.

Authors of the study “Pain During Early Abortion” said, “We were surprised to note that the majority of women reported moderate or more discomfort during the procedure; we had not expected as many women to report severe pain.”

Another study found that 97% of women said their abortions were painful, and 61% reported “moderate to severe pain.” It said:

[T]he average abortion pain ranked higher than that experienced by people suffering from fractures, sprains, neuralgia, arthritis, and was equal to that reported by amputees experiencing phantom limb pain and patients with cancer.

Often, women aren’t told how painful abortion can be. 

Source: Louise Swinn, ed. Choice Words: A Collection of Writing about Abortion (Sydney, Australia: Allen Unwin, 2019) 211, 217

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