This week we're borrowing another myth from the brilliant Scarleteen article How to (un)Pack for a Real Discussion About Abortion. Thanks again to Heather Corinna at Scarleteen for giving us permission to reproduce this extract. Be sure to visit the site for more information about sex, contraception, relationships and more: www.scarleteen.com.I spent a lot of my childhood in a hospital: my mother was a nurse and a single parent, the hospital was often my after-school hangout, and I was a curious kid. I probably saw more blood and guts than most children do for that reason. I was also an adventurous child who got injured a lot: I severed two of my fingers when I was seven, scraped the mush of them off the sidewalk, and carried them rather casually back to our apartment. (Some of my ability to do that without flinching was likely shock, mind you, but some was probably because I was used to dealing with or seeing injuries.) I also personally have seen blood and violence in my personal life outside medical situations, and have lived through a few incidents of brutality, as have other members of my family. And I have observed a number of abortion procedures, both in the first and second-trimester. I’ve also had a termination myself, and did so only with a local anesthetic.
Certainly, to some people, any surgery seems or looks bloody and brutal, especially those who get queasy around this stuff. Too, not everyone can manage emotions well around blood and other things involved in surgery and healthcare.
However, ANY surgical procedure usually involves blood. Most involve pain or discomfort, either before, during and/or in recovery from the surgery, and when a surgery is not painful, it’s usually because anaesthetic and/or sedation was used: some abortion providers offer both, others just one. Are abortions more bloody than most other procedures? No. More bloody or physically (or emotionally, though that, varies very widely from women to women and birth to birth) intense for a woman than childbirth? Not usually. I have to wonder sometimes if the people who call abortion things like bloody or brutal have ever witnessed a birth or even listened to honest accounts of birthing.
Are most women I have observed in horrible pain during their abortions? No. All of our pain thresholds vary, so what a woman experiences varies, but again, we’re not talking about a birth here (birth is usually painful, but we hardly suggest that's a reason women should not give birth), and remember, too, that most abortion procedures only take a few minutes, not hours and hours. Most abortions are not highly painful procedures, and pain can also be managed with medications, as with any surgery. While like other aspects of abortion, experiences of pain vary, some women even report that their monthly menstrual cramps or some sex they have in their lives had has been more painful than an abortion was.
I have yet to see an abortion procedure I’d describe as brutal or violent. As someone who has observed procedures first-hand, I’m always amazed by how many people who have NOT done so will tell me how things happen, or how awful everything is, apparently forgetting that of the two of us, I’m the only one who actually knows and has experienced how abortions are performed.