A reader writes:
As a patient of one of the doctors in After Tiller, I can, most unfortunately, assure you and the reader who doubts the scarcity of late-term care in this country: No, wealthy women don’t get to have these procedures in hospitals. Very few people do, and in those cases, it is almost always the case that the woman is in imminent danger of dying because of her pregnancy. Even then it’s a maybe, not a certainty. Because of legal restrictions or simply lack of comprehensive doctor training in this procedure, many women have to be flown ASAP to late-term abortion doctors to have their lives saved when they, say, experience organ failure from pregnancy-related illness.
When I learned of my need for a late-term abortion, the doctors at my hospital – my HUGE, important, very legitimate hospital for high-risk pregnancies in Boston, the city of medicine and liberalism – did not know whether or not I had ANY options for termination.
They turned up one clinic – only one in the entire country – and it was nowhere near here. I think that two of the doctors here might have been able to help me (not all four do the procedure as late as I needed it), but nobody in Boston could. So even if there may be a few more reputable doctors who practice late-term abortion, none materialized out of all of Boston when I needed help. Money and good insurance will not save you. Know that these few doctors serve most cases of late-term abortion in the Americas (including Canada) and even Europe.
I have heard of other doctors who practice late-term procedures coming out of the woodwork lately – unscrupulous doctors who operate illegally or in sketchy legal territory and take unacceptable risks with their patients’ well-being – doctors like the convicted Kermit Gosnell, and another operating out of New Jersey. They have terrible safety records, but they provide cheaper care.
Despite there being no hidden network of upper-class abortion providers for the latest-term procedures, money is a huge issue for access anyway. You hear “abortion clinic” and you think “cheap!”, but the doctors in this film preform a serious four-day procedure at a place that has to constantly stave off frivolous lawsuits filed constantly by political “pro life” activists, defend its right to exist in its legislature over and over and over again, and has to provide comprehensive protection from “pro life” terrorist attacks. The doctors are not getting rich off of this, but the procedure is not cheap. Mine cost $25,000. Because of the medical urgency of the situation, I had only one business day to come up with the cash or the credit – a business day I had to spend on an airplane to reach my destination. I incurred an additional $3,000 in travel expenses. My “Cadillac” insurance plan, which claims to cover this procedure, has only deemed a small fraction of it worthy of reimbursement. I can choose to sue or eat the difference. A woman without established and supportive connections (or a huge personal fortune) would have been out of luck.
I hope that this perspective is a little bit illuminating. My need for a third-trimester abortion was a deep personal tragedy. I lost a baby I loved and wanted, and she lost her shot at life – but our other options were just so much worse. To endure this situation, to travel this journey of loss … it added layers of pain and fear that I couldn’t stay home in my local care network.
My heart is full of gratitude for the doctors in this film. One of them saved my life and my baby’s life, too. But I will never get over that sense of fleeing into the night to find the care that was appropriate for my needs. It hurts me to hear the scarcity of care dismissed by those who erroneously assume that there are other doors open for care. The scary truth is this: I am an educated woman of reasonable means. When I needed my care, I could only find one door. I was lucky it was the door of one of these four capable and reputable doctors. In my desperation, I could easily have fallen into much more dangerous hands.