By Suzannah Young
The summer of 2021 was one of much needed relaxation, especially for the student athlete and nursing major who will be referred to as Kat.
The following accounts the story of a young woman who needed an abortion and details its process from the point of conception to physical expulsion.
Twenty-one-year-old Kat spent her time outside of school and practice in the library or working at her retail job. She was at the time, and still is, a woman who lives for her career and will let nothing stand in the way of her success.
With only a few summer classes, she was enjoying time with her then-boyfriend. The couple had sex regularly, but Kat was not taking birth control or using protection.
With three semesters of college left, she found out she was pregnant for the first time.
“I just got kind of careless about it,” Kat said. “One day, something just told me to take a pregnancy test.”
That day, Kat took two pregnancy tests: both tested positive.
Halfway through nursing school with an on-and-off again boyfriend, Kat did not think twice about having an abortion.
“I knew,” she said about her choice. “I was hurt, but I knew what I had to do.”
Despite feeling sad about the baby that could have been, Kat knew that she was not at a point in her life to care for a child. Not only could she not afford to raise a child, but she had a lot invested in her studies.
“I worked too hard to get here,” she said. “I’m not saying I never would have reached my career goals, but I want to get my degree now so that when I am at a place in my life where I can have a baby [when] I am actually ready.”
Despite the gravity of her circumstance, Kat was fortunate. Her education in medicine combined with a natural independence enabled her to make fully informed, practical decisions.
“The first thing I did was Google ‘abortion clinics’,” she said. “I did my research – I called around, checked on prices, checked on ratings; that kind of thing.”
That same year, 108 new abortion restrictions were enacted but none were in the state of Florida.
Knowing she wanted to take the abortion pill rather than the surgical procedure, her boyfriend agreed to split the medical costs.
According to Planned Parenthood, an abortion can cost up to $750, varying depending on the state, clinic, form of abortion, and insurance coverage.
The college student with a tight budget managed to find a safe clinic offering her a $200 discount. Although cost was a main factor for the self-financed young adult, the cleanliness and friendliness of the clinic solidified the deal.
As she explained what happened, Kat maintained a surprisingly matter-of-fact tone and showed little emotion.
After a pregnancy test and ultrasound, “the baby wasn’t showing yet,” she said. Kat had caught the baby so early it was still in the ectopic stage.
In this stage, the embryo is still implanted in the fallopian tube, and it isn’t until the embryo reaches the uterus that the procedure is operable.
Kat was told to return in two weeks to take the first set of abortion medication. After picking a day that worked with her school schedule, she went again to the abortion clinic alongside her boyfriend.
“You take a pill in the office that stops the hormone that stops the pregnancy,” she said. “And then you wait a whole 24 hours to take the second set of pills that expel the pregnancy.”
Contradictory to its name, the “abortion pill” is not a single pill, but rather two different medications.
The first pill, mifepristone, blocks the flow of progesterone, the hormone needed for pregnancy. The second set of pills, misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours later, causing the uterus to bleed as it induces contractions.
The next day, from the comfort of her own home, Kat took the misoprostol. She let the pill dissolve in her mouth for four minutes before swallowing, as she was directed.
She said the effects were immediate.
“I was laying down when the pain started really building up,” she said. “My boyfriend was sleeping, and I didn’t want to bother him, but I needed his support.”
That morning, as Kat rose from her bed to go to the bathroom her legs buckled. With the help of her boyfriend, she made it to the bathroom where she spent the next 45 minutes cramping in “excruciating pain,” waiting for the bleeding to start.
No stranger to the natural but disturbing substances of the human body, the nurse-in-training felt no embarrassment when she began vomiting and bleeding simultaneously in front of her boyfriend.
“It was a mess,” Kat said. “It was a nightmare.”
When the vomiting subsided, Kat went back to bed feeling fatigued and exhausted.
True to character, she attended her virtual clinical class until the end. As she lay in bed listening to the lecture, she felt something pass out of her body.
“I knew what it was,” she said. “I went to the bathroom, and I saw it.”
Referring to the fetus, Kat put it in a bag, knowing where she wanted to bury it later.
Kat took another set of pills given to her by the clinic “to clean everything out,” spending the rest of the day and the next letting her body rest.
Then, in November, the whole thing happened again.
This time, she knew something was wrong because she had been unusually nauseous and vomiting uncontrollably. After a series of blood and urine tests in the emergency room, she was discovered pregnant again.
Still not ready to be a mother, Kat prepared herself for a second abortion.
“The second time I was much more prepared, so I didn’t have a lot of pain,” she said.
With memory of the first still fresh in her mind, she knew when to take the pain medication for better relief and how to set up her bathroom for an easier extraction.
“I got in the shower to let the hot water ease the pain and had diapers ready because I knew how much I was going to bleed,” Kat said.
In need of financial assistance, Kat reached out to her mother. Although it was a difficult conversation, her mother was nothing but supportive and comforting.
She tried on multiple occasions to get on birth control in the time between the two pregnancies but was ignored by male medical professionals. Today, Kat has a female doctor and is on birth control. She does not regret her choice to have an abortion.
“The positive side was that I found out I’m fertile,” she said. “I know that some people can’t do that, and I don’t want to ever take that for granted.”
She built a better relationship with her mother and a broader female perspective entering the medical field and remains close with her ex-boyfriend.
“Finding out I was pregnant was hard, but it was also a happy moment,” she said. “It was sad because I knew that I couldn’t keep the baby. But it was also a sign of joy, to know that another human is there and to feel that connection. For the first time, I didn’t feel so alone.”
Set to graduate from nursing school at the end of the year, she is taking time to work on herself.
“I have always been interested in women’s health, but I think now I am even more so interested in the female aspect of it all,” she said.
Kat’s story is unique, but common.
Her abortions were two out of more than half a million others in the U.S. that year, according to the CDC.
For Kat, having an abortion was not a decision to be made but rather a definitive action to be taken. More passionate and knowledgeable about the female body, Kat’s abortions proved to her what she knew all along.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said.