Since last year, there has not been a single moment when the phone was silent. A physician from New York named Linda Prine offers the following piece of advise on a continuous loop: “Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids;” “Take some ibuprofen;” “There is no cause for alarm; take it easy.”
The Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline is now staffed by roughly 70 health care experts on a voluntary rotating basis. These specialists provide guidance and answer inquiries from American women who are wanting to terminate their pregnancies. The Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline was co-founded by Prine.
Their assistance is especially desired by those who are forced to carry out abortions on their own at home, without the assistance of a medical professional, due to the fact that the practice has been made illegal in their respective states.
In 2019, when limitations on abortion at the state level were increasing during the administration of the previous president Donald Trump, Prine and a colleague established the hotline. They began with 12 people who volunteered their time.
Then, about a year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated the constitutional right to abortion at the federal level. Since then, access to the treatment has been outright prohibited or highly restricted in around 15 states.
According to the physician who spoke to AFP, the move resulted in a “huge bump” in the number of calls made to the hotline.
Even when he was on vacation not long ago at a modest rental property just outside of New York City, Prine would shift gears. In the span of a day and a half, she talks to 18 different people via text message and fields 13 phone calls.
“I used to be able to juggle several things at once. The activist, who has been dedicated to the cause for decades, chuckles as she describes how she doesn’t even have time to use the restroom anymore. She acknowledges that the labor might be “exhausting” at times.
By far the most common reason individuals contact is to inquire about where they may purchase “abortion pills,” often known as the medications mifepristone and misoprostol, which are authorized by the federal government. The helpline does not supply them directly but rather directs callers to the appropriate location on the internet to obtain them.
Although abortion is illegal in some places, it is nonetheless feasible to obtain one by placing an order from another country.
After taking the abortion pills, a significant number of patients contact the support line in order to confirm that the procedure was successful. The results of pregnancy tests can occasionally be falsely positive for up to a few weeks following an abortion, which can lead to misunderstanding.
“Before you took all of the medicines, did you have sore breasts, and you felt tired, and you sort of nauseous?” Prine politely inquires of one of the women. “Are you noticing any improvement in those (symptoms)?”
At other occasions, the discomfort is brought on by bleeding that continues for weeks, which is a perfectly typical occurrence.
According to Prine, “the majority of the time, we’re not really giving medical advice; instead, we’re giving reassurance.” “The medical component is extremely risk-free. The portion dealing with worry and dread is challenging.
She stated that many of the ladies who call have not discussed their abortions with anybody else because of the concern that they will be reported.
“You can just hear it in people’s voices, they are so much grateful to have a place to talk to somebody who can answer their questions,” remarked Prine. “You can just hear it in people’s voices.”
The telephone line is staffed for eighteen hours continuously, every day of the week.
The majority of the volunteers are primary care physicians, and confidentiality is maintained regarding the patients. One of the patients who came in that morning mentioned phoning from Texas, a state that has just passed legislation making abortion illegal, even in situations involving rape.
A empathetic doctor expresses their sorrow to a caller by saying, “I’m sorry you live in such a terrible state.”
Since the legalization of abortion was severely restricted, one of the most significant shifts that Dr. Prine has observed is the advanced stage of women’s pregnancies at the time that they begin taking the abortion pills. When ordered from a foreign country, the delivery of the medication may take several weeks to complete.
Only one or two people aged 18 years or younger who were taking pills called the hotline during the first three years it was in operation.
“And now we will get a call like that once or twice a day, sometimes,” she added. “And I’m sorry to say that I have no idea what it is.”
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has granted approval for the use of abortion tablets over a period of time that extends up to ten weeks after the conclusion of the patient’s most recent menstrual cycle.
Patients seeking abortions during the second trimester of pregnancy can be “in a total state of panic,” according to the expert, because they may have just discharged a recognized fetus while the umbilical cord is still there.
The majority of the time, they do not need medical attention; yet, she stated that it “is just infuriating that anyone is having to go through this stuff, that anyone is by themselves with no medical care.”
Some are merely teens.
The anti-abortion campaign has “made this a worse experience for the people who are needing the pills,” according to the doctor, who herself had an abortion while she was in college, at a period when the procedure wasn’t allowed throughout the United States. This was during a time when the practice was illegal throughout the majority of the country.
A number of the women involved are reporting that the shifting legal environment is making them experience emotions of guilt.
“Like the woman who came in this morning and said, ‘I’m 39 years old, and I’ve never done anything illegal in my life, but I couldn’t have another baby.'”
Despite this, Prine is resolute in her pursuit to channel her wrath into productive activity.
“All I do is flip the situation, and it gives me the drive to fight back.”