Monday, January 14, 2008

When Planned Parenthood Saves the Day

I knew she was pregnant before she told me, and frankly, I was a little suspicious before she knew it--but I didn't say anything because I thought it would be rude. When she giddily told me I was going to be a khaleh (auntie), I started quietly compiling a list of names waiting to casually make a few suggestions. I was excited that one from our circle of friends would be adding a new little member to the group.

So you can imagine how sad I was for my friend last night when she emailed me to say that her husband is still radioactive (he had to have his thyroid removed) and that she had had a miscarriage. Her email was fairly light in tone, but I called her immediately. What she told me made me sad, angry and grateful for Planned Parenthood.

She thought something was wrong and went to her doctor, telling him she didn't feel pregnant any more. He first dismissed her concerns and finally checked the fetus' heartbeat at my friend's insistence. She miscarried close to her 14th week of pregnancy. He then informed her that because it was past her first trimester, her body would not spontaneously reject the dead fetus and it would have to be removed. He would not do the procedure because it was too similar to performing an abortion. And he was not going to refer her to anyone to conduct the procedure either.

This is where I lost track of what she was saying for a little while because I was stuck on the fact that a trained physician, a SCIENTIST, was not willing to remove dead tissue that would cause sepsis from my friend's uterus because the procedure was similar to an abortion. This is what he says to a woman who has just miscarried. A woman who could suffer infection, sepsis, hemorrhaging and possibly infertility because his religious beliefs did not allow him to differentiate between dead tissue and a live fetus. I'm not even going to touch the pro-choice vs. pro-life issue. My brain still hurts from the madness of what she was told.

Back to my friend: She tried to find another physician to conduct the procedure soon (before sepsis set in) and couldn't find anyone in her immediate network who could see her before March. It's January. Crazy, right? So out of desperation and in an understandable state of panic she calls Planned Parenthood, semi-hysterical and trying to explain what has happened. They were kind and worked quickly to get her in as soon as possible. She went with her dad to the PP clinic (her husband is going through radiation therapy and can't touch her or be within 7 feet of her), had the procedure and came home. She was so impressed and grateful, that she told her husband that every year on the day of her miscarriage she will donate money to Planned Parenthood.

In light of this situation, I would like to ask you to have an honest discussion with your physician and make sure you (or the women in your life) will be cared for if they need it. If your current physician is unwilling to care for you, please find one who will place your health before their personal beliefs. And please support your local Planned Parenthood. If not for them, there would be women who need medical help who wouldn't get it.


Alex the Odd said...

I genuinely can't believe that. My brain is actually hurting as I try to understand the concept. But... but... cause... I mean, it's not even relevant because... oh God, I can't do it. It's too mindnumbingly painful.

This reminds me of the time a friend was in Italy and needed the morning after pill - the local doctor refused to give it to her saying that instead she should pray. Thank god for all night pharmacies.

I feel incredibly lucky being here in the UK, the number of free clinics, emergency rooms and General Practitioners that I have access to is huge. On top of that the whole pro life vs pro choice debate is very much a private one as opposed to something that is in the public awareness 24/7, a doctor who would refuse such a procedure would be very difficult to find.

Anonymous said...

This is just absurd. I have a number of friends and relatives who are pro-life, and I respect their opinion and beliefs. My own feelings on abortion are rather muddled and shouldn't really be categorized as one thing or another. But holy moley, what your friend went through was unacceptable, no matter on what side of the issue one sits.

First, considering that your friend was carrying dead tissue in her body that would cause her serious harm if left alone, this physician, by refusing to perform what amounts to an invasive DNC, is throwing the Hippocratic oath clear out of the window. It boggles the mind.

Also troubling is the fact that this doctor apparently thinks that God is some sort of twit who can't distinguish between a dead and a live fetus, and therefore he'd be judged for removing a non-living fetus from a womb.

Sheesh. Where is it that your friend lives? I'm in a small Southern, pretty conservative city, but we've got at least half a dozen hospitals, not to mention various clinics here that I could go to with such an issue.

Finally, your friend and her husband are in my prayers. I can't imagine what she is going through, but will be praying for her strength and peace of mind.

girl with curious hair said...

I'll reply to both at once: I still haven't gotten my head around this stupidity either. I mean where the hell did this guy graduate from?

Alex, be glad that you don't have to worry about people's personal beliefs interfering with your health care. When I got married, my new doctor wouldn't prescribe the Pill for me.

Manda, thank you for writing a significantly more eloquent response that my post. She and I both live in SD. I'm still fuming and what you read was my third attempt, and shortest version. She is a lawyer and is already looking to report her 'doctor' to the State Board. She called two other offices after everything was done and the receptionists at both said they wouldn't do such procedures (nurses later corrected and said they would)

To me, this has nothing to do with pro-life vs. pro-choice. It has to do with providing proper care of patients as they have taken an oath to do. That and having the knowledge to distinguish between a fetus and dead, infectious tissue.

Thank you both for your comments.

Vermillion said...

Well, blow me down. There is no better stupidity than stupidity from a smart person.

I have so much to say, my brain won't even function well enough to allow me to. Probably for the best.

And even though it may sound ironic: Thank God for Planned Parenthood.

Anonymous said...

FUCK that. FUCK him. FUCK the system that says this is ok.

And prayers and meditations to your sweet friend, for keeping her calm in the face of serious stupidity and a complete lack of compassion.

And this, my dears, is why I ONLY go to Planned Parenthood for gyno visits.

Planned Parenthood Forever!!!

BrokenUgly said...

Too right, too very, very right. Stupidity from the very ones who are (supposedly) so smart is one of the most frusterating parts of my daily life.

Anyway, I'm very glad I clicked on that comment link at Pajiba and came to do some reading. I sympathize with the story and I wanted to add my voice to the cheer.

Planned parenthood saved my life about five years ago. Not only because they provided a low-income college student with free birth control to prevent her fiancé from knocking her up, but because when I had an allergic reaction to the first type of birth control we tried, the "family doctor" I visited told me to "Wait it out, honey, you're just irregular because you're so obese". When I finally went back to PP, the Nurse Practitioner, however, ran a simple test and found the problem. Both she and the OB/GYN she sent me to agreed that if I had "waited it out" for another couple weeks, I'd have died.

Lovely. Anyway, thank goodness for PP.

The Ex said...

Oh god, that makes me SO DAMN MAD I could spit fire. As far as I'm concerned she should report him to the local medical board - he has no business refusing to treat a patient with a legitimate medical need. A D&C is pretty standard and NOT REALLY AT ALL LIKE A FUCKING ABORTION. Jesus.

Anonymous said...

so i'm a first time reader, and i have to say, this is just ridiculous. i thought the whole 'do no harm' thing was actually followed by doctors. yikes. this makes me really worried for the women in the world. i hope your friend is okay after such a traumatic experience. ill send happy vibes her way.

mindy said...

Wow. This doctor should be reported. That is just plain irresponsible. I wonder how he would have felt if he had been responsible for your friend's death all because he wouldn't remove an ALREADY DEAD fetus.

I am appalled, and glad that PP was there to help. I love them.

Caren said...

You know what?? That's cause for a law suit...I don't usually believe in being litigious, but GODDAMMIT, this is a clear case of medical malpractice...

Ironically, I just got a solicitation from PP in the mail the other day. Am definitely going to drop them a check...thanks.

Caren, a.k.a Ms. Mix & Bitch