(The following story is totally fiction. It is based on a role-play that was done at the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteer. While there are elements in the story that are factual, the character of the client is fictional.)
I glanced at her intake sheet. Rachel, 21, had come for a pregnancy test. She had been here before. That pregnancy had ended in miscarriage. I opened the door and walked her back to one of our meeting rooms.
“Welcome, Rachel. You may have a seat wherever you feel comfortable.”
She sat on the sofa. I sat in a chair to the side. I began the conversation.
“Rachel, I want you to know that anything we discuss here is confidential and if there is anything that you don’t want to talk about, just tell me and we won’t discuss it. It is your choice.”
“I see that you are a receptionist at a dental office. Do you like your job?”
“Well,” Rachel replied, “ It’s ok. It’s a job. What I would really like is to be an office manager or an administrative assistant. I’d like to go back to school and pursue this.”
“Oh, I see. Have you gone to any school outside of high school?”
“Yes,” she responded, “I did go to the tech school for stenography and things like that, but I would like to go farther in office management.”
“It says here that you are living alone?”
“And you have marked on your form that you are Jewish and that you sometimes attend a synagogue. Is that locally or where is that?”
“That is at a community just north of here. Yes, my father is Jewish. My mother is Christian so we celebrated Christmas and things like that, but my parents told us to decide for ourselves.”
“And what decision have you come to?”
“I haven’t really decided. I just don’t know what to think yet.”
“Well, this is a topic that perhaps we could come back to. This is something that I am really interested in. Would that be ok?”
“How long have you been with your boyfriend?”
“Oh, about seven months.”
“What kinds of things do you like to do together?”
“We like to go to movies and to plays. We are going on vacation in December. To the Bahamas.”
“Oh, Wow! Warm weather, huh?”
“Does your boyfriend know that you are here today?”
“No. He doesn’t need to know.”
“If you were to be pregnant, what are your intentions?”
“Well, I just can’t be pregnant. I have plans and goals. I want to go on to school. I’m probably not pregnant anyway. I will just probably have an abortion.”
“Do you know anyone who has had an abortion?”
“Yes, my ex-boyfriend’s friend’s girlfriend has had one, but I haven’t really talked to her about it.”
“So you don’t know if she has any side effects?”
“If you would allow me, I would like to talk with you about the procedures of abortion, not to make your choice for you, but just so that you can be informed. I would not show you any gory pictures, nor would I show you any pictures of babies. I would just be talking about what happens in an abortion procedure so that you can make an informed decision.”
“Well, ok, I guess that would be good. But, can we do the test first?”
“Sure,” I say, and smile. “First, we need to go through some questions regarding your period. “ As we worked through the questionnaire, I discovered that she had missed two periods, her periods were usually regular, she was occasional drinker, and she and her boyfriend used a condom.
As I explained the procedures of the pregnancy test, she remarked that our tests looked different than the last time she was there and I assured her that they are just as effective. I proceeded to explain how this self- administered test worked. I showed her to the bathroom. When she returned, we dipped the test strip into the urine sample and set it aside to wait the required five minutes until we could read the results.
Having had her sign a form that states she has agreed that we can discuss abortion, I then took out a brochure that explained abortion procedures at each stage of pregnancy. I began,
“This diagram shows what your reproductive system looks like. God has designed our bodies in such a way that when a baby is conceived, the cervix closes tightly so that no infection and no harm can come to the baby. The doctor has to open that cervix in order to perform the abortion.”
“Wait,” Rachel said, “You are saying it’s a baby. It’s not really a baby until like 3 months, right?”
“Well, if we look at this picture right here.” Because she asked, I opened a brochure of the stages of human development. I would not do this as a form of threat or scare tactic, but because she mentioned it and asked I wanted to show her.
“The picture I have here is an egg and a sperm uniting. At the moment of conception, all the genetic makeup of the baby is there, including whether or not it is a boy or a girl.”
“Really, whether or not it will be a boy or a girl? Well, how far along would I be?”
I took out my pregnancy wheel and we determined that she would be nine weeks along, if she were indeed pregnant.
“What does that brochure say about the baby at nine weeks?”
We looked at the brochure. We discovered that a baby at nine weeks gestation has finger and toe buds and responds to touch. She held our model of a 9 weeks fetus.
“This doesn’t look like that first picture at all. This looks more like a baby.”
“I had a D&C when I had my miscarriage. Isn’t an abortion just like that?”
“Let’s go back and look at what this says? For a baby that is at 6 to 12 weeks gestation, which is where you would be, a suction curettage would be performed.” I held my hands as a model of a uterus and cervix and described the procedure of opening the cervix and the procedure of that particular abortion. I also explained the side effect of possible scaring of the uterus, which could have ramifications for any future pregnancies she may want to have. Though I tried to tell her that the physical side effects are usually rare, and I wanted to tell her that the emotional and spiritual side effects are much more common, she didn’t want to hear about the side effects and so we dropped the topic.
“That girl I was telling you about that had the abortion? She can’t have any children now.”
There was a slight pause as I tried to think of where to go next.
“But, that is not the same thing that they did when I had my miscarriage.”
“How far along were you when you had your miscarriage?”
“About the same as I am now. I had just had the test. It was positive. I thought I got my period, but then…I went to the hospital. It hurt. The doctor said he had gotten “the entire product” out. But, what you’re telling me.”
Tears began to flow.
To be continued….