EPISODE #74

The
Scarlet A

EPISODE #74

The
Scarlet A

Pratima’s dad was an obstetrician. When they spent father-daughter time together, he was always getting called away to deliver a baby. Pratima swore to herself she’d never be a doctor. And *definitely* not an OB-GYN.

But that’s exactly what she became.

Pratima-dad-squarePratima-doctor-square

Pratima loved the variety in women’s health. One day she might be helping a woman with birth control; a few years later, she might be removing that same woman’s ovarian cyst; next, maybe she’d assist that woman through a pregnancy. And somewhere along the way, there might be an abortion.

Turns out, 60% of women who have abortions are already moms. But only 14% of OB-GYNs in the United States offer this service.

Pratima is one of the few doctors who both delivers babies and terminates pregnancies—a job combination that gets stigmatized even in the medical community.

Pratima-labor-scaled

Three years ago, Pratima gave birth to a baby of her own. But it wasn’t her first pregnancy; the first one ended in abortion.

Pratima-newborn-scaled

Tune in to this episode to hear what it’s like to be an OB-GYN who performs abortions, and a mom who has had one herself.

Resources
Of course, we all know that Planned Parenthood offers abortion services. Pratima says that if you want to find an OB-GYN who performs abortions, the best thing to do is ask your primary care physician or insurance provider for a recommendation. Because of the risk involved in this line of work, OB-GYNs don’t often publicly list abortions as a service that they provide.

If you’re looking for more information about abortions, Pratima recommends Guttmacher for research and RH Reality Check for reproductive health policy and journalism that is accessible to a general audience.

Have YOU had an abortion? Or maybe you’ve performed abortions?
Use the comments section below to tell us what gets left out of this important conversation.

Pratima family photos: Molly DeCoudreaux

Our sponsors for this episode are Squarespace, Glossier, Little Passports and Icon Undies. Use the promo code LONGSHORT at checkout for a special discount. You can also get a discount on subscriptions to Howl Premium with the code TIME

102 thoughts on “EPISODE #74: The Scarlet A

  1. “People – we need to talk about abortion more”! This was the soul of conversation I had with a brunch date this morning. She a bold and brave younger woman who had an abortion and was very vocal about it, even writing a column; me already mom of a toddler, terminated a wanted pregnancy with a fatal diagnosis. I remain vague about “losing” the baby, maybe because I’m still feeling complicated about it. But what is not complicated is how many women have come out of the woodwork to discuss their loss, their gratitude, the whole spectrum around having abortions or pregnancy loss. We need public dialogue so we don’t have any woodwork to come out of. There are so many of us. We need public platforms to transform cultural shame and address grief, when that is an element of the experience. Thanks for this episode, and the work being done to “help ladies!”

  2. I love this podcast. I am an OB/GYN nurse practitioner. I work for a large HMO that like the featured MD , views access to abortion part of the continuum of women’s health care. Bravo to you all for this podcast. Conversations about abortion and so needed. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for this episode. It is so uncannily timely right now. I’m currently pregnant – my 4th. My husband and I have a beautiful baby girl who is 14 months old. And we want so badly to grow our family, but it’s looking more and more likely that we will be facing our 3rd abortion instead. I have always been pro-choice, but never imagined that I would actually go through an abortion. But when my husband and I got pregnant the first time the baby had severe abnormalities and wouldn’t survive. We decided to terminate the pregnancy and our genetic counselor (the most wonderful amazing man I know) suggested getting genetic testing done on the fetus. There was a possibility that it was just a freak chromosome abnormality, but it did have markers or a rare fatal genetic disease. So we went through with the testing and it turned out that yes, the baby had this rare fatal genetic disease and that my husband and I were carriers. We had never heard of it. Our parents had never heard of it, but somehow we had it. After that we got pregnant again and even though with each pregnancy there is only a 1 in 4 chance that the baby will get this disease, it happened again. Another devastating termination. But then we got pregnant with our daughter! And now here we are again. I’m 10 weeks pregnant. At my viability ultrasound my OB said things didn’t look right so we saw our genetic counselor and had an ultrasound with him. He agreed that it didn’t look good but it was too early to make a definitive call. So now I’m 10 weeks. In 8 days I go back for another ultrasound and possible cvs to determine whether this baby is healthy. This limbo land waiting period is the hardest thing-I’m tired and sick from the pregnnancy, ‘my hormones are all crazy and mentally I am spent. I’ve cried so many tears over this baby and cannot believe we are going through this again. It does not got easier but I am so incredibly thankful to the doctors who have shown kindness and compassion. They 100% support my choice to terminate and without them I wouldn’t have the courage and strength to keep trying. Thank you for having this important conversation. Have you ever thought of doing an episode on a situation like mine?

    1. Hi Carolyn. Thanks so much for sharing your story! Sounds like a very trying experience and we wish you and your family the best. -Abigail, LST producer

    2. Hi Carolyn,
      I, too, love this episode. I listened a while back and clicked the box to be notified of others’ follow-up comments. I just read your email and simply wanted to say that my heart goes out to you. I had two abortions in my teens and lived for 40 years in silence believing I was the only one. Now, I tell my story publicly to try to end the stigma and promote safe, nonjudgmental abortion care for all. Also, I have been serving as a clinic escort. Just last weekend, I met a couple in a similar situation as yours. They have one child who has severe disabilities and is blind and deaf. They wanted to give this child a healthy sibling to bring joy into the family. But the testing showed the pregnancy was not healthy and the fetus had severe abnormalities. They were devastated, but they knew an abortion was the wisest course. I felt so profoundly sad that in their time of deep vulnerability they had to see and hear people judging and shaming them in a spectacle of cruelty along the street. I hope that your experience is easier and not compounded by the judgment and shaming of strangers who will never understand. Thank you for sharing your story. I believe that every time a person tells the truth of their experience, the stigma loses a bit of its power to hurt people. I wish you peace and health, and I send you a hug of compassion for all you are going through.

  4. When I was a sophomore in an out-of-state college in 2008, I became pregnant. I was 19, and truly believed the “pullout method” worked even though, at the same time, I knew it didn’t (my mother is a nurse so I have no excuses). I went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion as soon as I found out, but it turned out I wasn’t even far enough along to get the procedure done (is this a real thing?). I had to wait a couple weeks, feeling guilty and ashamed, not telling anyone why I was randomly crying. I paid cash for the procedure, which was hard to come up with since I was a student, but I didn’t trust that it wouldn’t have shown up on my parents’ health insurance statement in some way. They still don’t know.
    To this day, I know two things for sure: 1, it was the best decision I could have ever made at the time. I graduated college, went on to graduate school, have moved all over the eastern half of the country for job opportunities, and would have had a VERY different life if I had carried out that pregnancy. Even giving the child up for adoption was not something I could have done, because the shame of being in that situation would have closed a lot of doors for me. I never even considered another option than immediately getting an abortion. 2, telling more than the maybe 5 people who currently know would be really hard. I’ve had two pretty serious relationships since that happened (one which is current) and I feel like I would be judged on some level if people found out. I think it’s just something you can’t un-learn about a person.
    I don’t really want kids, and I never really did, but now I feel like I shouldn’t have kids. I sort of feel like I gave up my chance to be a parent with that unwanted teenage pregnancy.
    Even so many years on, with no shadow of a doubt in my mind, I have a lot of feelings I never worked through because I didn’t ever tell anyone. I have no guilt, but I do feel a lot of shame.
    Thanks, Internet. Now I have told one more person (or a million more people). It kind of feels nice to share anonymously.

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