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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In talking about abortion with my friends, colleagues, and others, I frequently get asked, "Is it true women have like ten abortions?" First of all, no. However, about half of abortion patients report having a previous abortion.

The patients who have had more than three abortions are few and far between. But, the fact of the matter is there are women who will present in a clinic five, six, seven times for a procedure.

This makes a lot of people, myself included, uncomfortable on some level.

In this situation, we have a couple of options. We can get weirded out and/or judge the woman, or we can delve a little bit deeper into her history. Figure out the why. Because there is so much built into why that woman is getting pregnant over and over again -- lack of education, lack of access to health care, lack of resources, lack of transportation to get to the doctor, lack of time to get to the doctor's office when it's open, lack of funds to pay for the birth control, lack of a partner who is respectful of her request to use a condom, etc. I could go on forever. There are so many reasons why a woman may get pregnant several times.

What this really shows, to me at least, is how broken the reproductive health care system is in this country. The United States has an extremely high unintended pregnancy rate. Not coincidentally, the abortion rate is pretty high here. Western Europe has a very high contraceptive use rate and the lowest abortion rate in the world. It really frustrates me that anti-choicers get all worked up about women who have abortions, but don't want or care if that woman has access to birth control. Those two go hand in hand!

And no woman wants to have six abortions.

Do repeat abortion patients make you feel uncomfortable at all? Why? Are there other thoughts you have the topic? Are there patient situations you feel uncomfortable? Please comment!


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