I Told My Doctor I’d Get an Abortion

I have RA. That’s Rheumatoid Arthritis. Had I become symptomatic twenty years ago I’d be disabled by now and unable to type. Because of science and research (and insurance) I’m in really good shape. I take a handful of pills each day and an injection each month. Once in a while you’ll hear me moan about the medicine, but for the most part I love the medicine, hate the disease, love the medicine.

At my last visit with the rheumatologist we decided to add another pill to the mix. Like I said, I’m in a good shape but I’m only 41 and If I look at the other women in my family that means I’ve got another 55 or so years where I need these joints to function. Slowing the disease down is good, but we’re going aggressive, we’re looking to arrest the disease.

Here is the conversation we had.

MD: You’re still menstruating, correct?

ME: Yes.

MD: If we add this medicine I need to know that you’ve got birth control that is 100%. The birth defects would leave a baby incompatible with life.

ME: Oh I’m covered. I’ve got an IUD, this is a closed up shop [waving over my middle]

MD: And those are 100%? [he’s still writing notes in his pad and to be fair most of his patients stopped menstruating long ago] I’ll just need to contact your OB.

ME: You don’t need to contact him.

MD: [a little startled and looking at me quizzically] I just need to confirm…

ME: [interrupting] You really don’t need to confirm. I have an IUD the chances of me getting pregnant are miniscule and if I did get pregnant on that drug I’d have an abortion.

My doctor looked confused, like this wasn’t the discussion we were supposed to have but it was the discussion we needed to have. I’m 41, my “baby” is ten and I’m done having kids. If I wasn’t a pharmaceutical dumping grounds and I got pregnant I’m sure I’d be happy, or I’d find a way to be happy… maybe. But there’s a time in everyone’s life to have babies. I went on ad nauseum explaining to him why this wasn’t my time to have babies and I assured him that I wanted to be better. I want to be well and that no babies would be part of the equation. I have two great kids to raise, I wouldn’t stay pregnant just so they could watch a baby die.

I’m 41 and I didn’t want my Rheumatologist hopping on the phone with my Gynecologist to get a promise that I wouldn’t get pregnant. I’m a mother of two and a wife of one. I’m middle aged, middle income and I used to be politically moderate.

And then everyone wanted to get involved with my uterus.

Comments 39

  1. and that is the only conversation you should have…the one between you and your doctors. Unfortunately times have changed and I feel like even ‘moderate’ women are forced to talk with their doctors and then their government and state Rep and Senator about their reproduction. How did we get here? 

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  2. Here’s where this stuff gets insulting. DR’s treating women like children simply b/c their reproductive organs are still functioning.

    I have a blogger friend who is in her early 30’s and is at extreme risk for a reproductive oriented cancer. She has a young child, doesn’t want another and could pretty much eliminate her cancer risk with a hysterectomy. She can’t get a single DR to agree to it. Why? Because they keep telling her, she might change her mind about more children.

    I know a guy who got a vasectomy – no questions asked – when he was in his late twenties b/c he had two kids already and didn’t want more. No. Questions. Asked.

    What gives? What is the difference?

    Gender. Men are granted the right to know their own minds and women are treated like flighty children, who minds/feelings sway with the wind – and by “wind”, I mean hormones. We are, and DR’s are no less guilty of perpetuating this myth, apparently unable to make long term decisions about what we want b/c our hormones rule us in some mysterious way that doesn’t apply to men, who last I heard had hormones of their own.

    Women know their own minds. We do not need our DR’s double checking with each other to make sure we are making the right decisions. We are not children. Stop treating us as if we were.

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      1. my husband is on that and humira. When we started trying for kids, they thought we wouldn’t be able to, b/c in men it decreases sperm count. Turns out, we are fertile myrtles ;) But, I do specifically remember my doc saying if *I* was the one taking it, I’d have to get off.

        Hope it helps. My husband would not be able to function without it. As it is already, he feels 80 some days…..He’s 37.


  3. Years ago I had a horrible experience with my then OB/GYN who wanted to give me a hysterectomy because of severe fibroid issues – he said ‘you keep telling me you want a baby but it doesn’t seem like that’s ever going to happen!’ I left stunned and never to return again – another much better, more evolved Dr. did my fibroid surgery and I have an almost 10 year old son! I’m sure the first dr. wouldn’t have told a man who needed some kind of surgery ‘we may as well just cut your penis off since you haven’t been having sex lately even though you say you want to!’

  4. BTW Jessica I am so sorry about your RA my mom had it and I know it’s brutal! Glad to know they have improved treatment since her time because I am a candidate!

  5. Hi! I’m 35 and have been diagnosed with Inflammatory Arthritis.  Not RA exactly but something along the lines, still trying to figure out. I get flare ups and some days I can barely walk or stand. I have opted out of trying any drugs because I’m just now starting to have my babies. I figure the same as you, when I’m all done building my family, I’ll take the drugs. I have to accept the level of permanent damage I’ll have for now, but it’s what I have to take to make sure I don’t potentially harm my kids.  On the flip side my dr said that when pregnant flare ups seem to go away. So it should be a nice 9 months. haha

    I appreciate your honesty in this and hope that you don’t have many flare ups.

  6. You would think doctors would understand that “uterus” and “brain” are actually separate organs. Maybe it is because men so often confuse “penis” and “brain” that they just get stuck in a rut… (from another one with JRA, in remission, who recently faced a shocked look post a hip replacement when I asked about having another baby….)

  7. Id write all over the internet about killing my unborn children, too. NOT. Have some dignity. Too bad you weren’t aborted.

    1. Wow. I am not an advocate for abortion, but this is one of the few medical cases where it actually makes sense since the health of the mother and/or child would be in danger. This is not the abortion for acting irresponsibly and making a child pay for it, so back off.

  8. You know I am in the same boat. My mom takes that drug and I’m sure I will too, eventually. I’ve opted to be less aggressive and some days I wonder about that choice, as I pop yet another prevacid and NSAID. I do wonder if they would have asked a man, who’s sperm would be compromised a similar question about his contraceptive use before prescribing a needed me. Nope. They’d ask for a nothing, unless it was a note from his female partners doc about her uterus. 

  9. As a dr he should no there is no such thing as 100% birth control.  Hell even abstinance isn’t 100%, at least not according to the nuns in grade school, they told me I could get pregnant sitting on a toilet seat.

  10. I’m sure there will be many people offended at your cavalier writing about abortion…however, I don’t think this post is about abortion.  I promise you, if your doctor had been a woman, she would have nodded and written the prescription. You told him how you felt and he didn’t respect or trust you.  How can you trust HIM?  He needs to contact your OBGYN??… PLEASE!!!!!! *shakes head and lets out long low growl…

    1. I don’t know that it was a gender thing so much as a medical thing. I think it was unnerving for him to have the conversation with me at all. 

      Also, since the GOP is all up in my womb I was probably more to the point than I might have been otherwise. 

      I guess my point is that every woman might find herself in this position and it’s a fair discussion to have with my doctor, but he’s the only man not related to me that should worry about a hypothetical pregnancy. 

  11. Being a woman is so complicated. I think it’s interesting that you doctor was so shocked that you would choose yourself over the possibility of a child faced with certain death. As mothers we sacrifice so much of ourselves for our children (most of the time with love), but I find it insulting that a man would question your choice of health over having another child. 

  12. Hope you are feeling well! sounds like he should have called your mom to make sure she was on the same page too! I can appreciate they want to be extra careful because some people who are put in that situation say one thing and then when they get pregnant  and they change their mind. But with that said, he doesn’t seem to know you very well! 

  13. Personally, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. Doctors don’t always have the best social skills anyway. I’m imagining he was trying to cover his bases to avoid a potential lawsuit. Women are all so different, not all of us are sentimental and indecisive. It would be refreshing to have a patient like you who has a no-nonsense approach. I’m sure you stunned him though with your abortion comment!

  14. It’s hard for me to see this as controversial. Abortion is a legal procedure that millions of women have done. This is a medical decision.

    Sometimes it feels like we we are living in the 1950s.

  15. I’m also 41, have children, and have an IUD, and would also promptly abort any other pregnancy. The only difference between you and I is I don’t have RA, and I have a female doctor who fully understands where I’m coming from.

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