I am a nurse practitioner today; but in 1971 I was an RN head nurse in one of the first abortion facilities in Washington, DC where abortion was legal before Roe v Wade. I was a lobbyist for NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) pre Roe v Wade. I saw women die of illegal abortion and referred women to the 'underground' abortion physicians.

I opened centers providing abortion in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Louisiana, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas and the District of Columbia. AMA!

Edit: proof submitted to moderators for confidentiality reasons.

Edit 2: Thank you all for the questions! I have to get to work today so probably won't be answering more but thought I'd leave you all with some resources and links for reading:

If you or someone you know needs an abortion and can't afford it, NAF can help

Links for religion ---- Catholics for Choice ---- Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice ---- Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom

NARAL Pro-Choice America has a lot of information on what local laws are trying to pass in your states As I said earlier, contacting your local state representatives and getting involved at a grassroots level is important!

Want to get more involved? Become a clinic escort! Contact your local Planned Parenthood, NARAL chapter or clinic to see if they would like your help! Clinic Escort Story

Help push for medically accurate, age appropriate sex education at all levels. SEICUS has good information on legislation and resources.

Women write about their experiences I am Dr. Tiller

One in 4 women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Talk to the women around you, hear their stories, take the taboo out of abortion.

Comments: 381 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

BrachiumPontis45 karma

Thank you for doing what you do. It has made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of women with few options.

How did you get into the field?

IAmAProviderAMA82 karma

I got into this after watching a women bleed to death after a botched illegal abortion

TheBeardedGM32 karma

How worried are you about the various threats leveled against abortion providers around the country?

What is your single biggest job-related anxiety?

IAmAProviderAMA87 karma

Two of my friends were killed because they provided abortions as physicians. But today I am more worried about the turn of this country to the extreme right and the people who think 'their god' is better than mine

Dexadrine14 karma

I thought it was interesting that the Olympic Park Bomber, got his start as an abortion clinic bomber, and killing gays.

Ultimately, the Olympic Park bombings just proved he was a psychopath who enjoyed killing people, the "ideology" was just a means to an end, and the fundies probably bankrolled his gruesome hobby as well.

Flash forward many years, a so called "Abortion Activist" was revealed to be just someone that was an IRL troll. The town he protested in didn't have any abortion clinics, they were lucky to even have a Wal-Mart. It was the sort of place where the biggest coke dealer in town operated a bar, and owned a judge to keep the competition out. (Think Dukes of Hazard, if you're not hip to the new scene).

What they DID have, was an under-medicated mental patient who sought to right what he saw as what was wrong in the world. Whoops! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jim_Pouillon

So, I suppose lots of people in the Anti-Abortion debate just get into it to raise hell and be crazy rather than any profound belief in a cause.

IAmAProviderAMA16 karma

Yes this is interesting. But, my experience is that most protesters are religious and male often led by Catholic priests

rabblebike27 karma

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about how reproductive rights are handled in the US, what would it be?

IAmAProviderAMA101 karma

taking it out of the hands of politicians and religious zealots

herefromthere22 karma

First of all I would like to say thank you for being a person strong enough to do this.

What has been hardest for you in all that time? What stands out, or is it one long slog?

Do you have any uplifting stories at all or is it all unremittingly grim?

IAmAProviderAMA56 karma

The hardest in all this time is that we continue to treat women's health as a 'controversy.'
There are many many uplifting stories of women and families coming to me for health care and thanking me..and of wonderful staff members I have had the great honor to work with.

herefromthere15 karma

Would you be able to share any of the nicer stories?

I used to work opposite an abortion clinic. Protesters would often sit outside and try to stop me passing. Occasionally my boss (who owned the land) would come out and chase them off, but more often it would be protesters telling me I didn't have to do it, and me telling them I felt it was the only honest thing or some other equally ambiguous thing and watch their faces as I crossed the road to the office.

IAmAProviderAMA53 karma

there are many faces of women of many years ago which I can still visualize .. one in particular was a women 55 and pregnant .. she and her husband of 60 found out she was pregnant..they giggled to think they could 'still do it'...but definitely did not want another child as they had 5.

lycanakitteh19 karma

I was a teenage mother. (My son is now 10 years old) It was absolutely frightening and people are awful when you are that young. I have always worried about how pregnant teenage girls are treated when getting an abortion.

My question is: Do you often have minors come in for abortions? Is the process any different for a younger female than a woman in her 30s?

IAmAProviderAMA28 karma

First, congratulations on getting thru the first 10 years! Being a mom at any age is sometimes overwhelming. We don't get manuals.
I do see underage girls; but now they seem to have the support of their parents more than in the early days.

DarkHampster15 karma

Have you (or one of your clinics) ever been attacked or otherwise feared for your family? What was the experience like?

IAmAProviderAMA55 karma

one of my centers was bombed; I have been shot at -the bullet stopped by bullet proof glass; my home and neighbors homes have had mailboxes stuffed with gross pictures

josephbuttons6 karma

So they were trying to get your neighbors to turn on you? Or they didn't know which home you lived in, so they just went for every mailbox?

IAmAProviderAMA3 karma

They knew where we lived. There are several anti-choice websites that list the work addresses of known abortion providers along with pictures of the providers. At one point, they had listed home addresses which is why this happened.

Oneinfivepeople15 karma

How do you feel about the pre-pregnancy information such as sexual health education situation?

IAmAProviderAMA36 karma

I cannot stress the importance of early sex education enough. I became a certified sex educator in the early 70s and taught parents how to talk with and to their children. The first thing I taught was teaching kids the proper names for their bodies not 'privates' . Once a father said he didn't think his daughter could pronounce the word vagina..I asked him if she could pronounce Tyrannosaurus Rex? He laughed and got the message.

-new-14 karma

[deleted]

IAmAProviderAMA28 karma

I don't think it is any of my business if a woman chooses to have a child or when she has a child. And I do not think anyone had the right to decide that for me

-new-9 karma

[deleted]

IAmAProviderAMA21 karma

wasn't intended as a 'bitch' just how I feel about abortion..I really do not think it should be my or anyone else's decision except the woman..it's always a problem with texting and not seeing the facial expressions..sometimes due to complications women have third trimester abortions in order to save their lives and sometimes the fetus dies in utero and needs to be removed so the woman does not have to be put thru labor to deliver a dead fetus..is that what you were asking?

badsoccerplayer13 karma

Dear Nurse:

Thank you for this AMA. What, in your opinion, has been the greatest advancement for women's reproductive health in the last 10-20 years? Even if it is just a change in mentality on the part of your patients, whatever insight you have is appreciated.

IAmAProviderAMA31 karma

The most positive thing is that women no longer hide in shame. They consult their family and friends and have the support of loved ones.

sad_hitler12 karma

Have you ever questioned your beliefs on abortion? If so, what moment was it?

IAmAProviderAMA15 karma

Earlier in my life I was a practicing Catholic and sometime in my early 20s I seriously questioned my then opposition to abortion.

fishytaquitos11 karma

How can I help you, as an average citizen?

IAmAProviderAMA16 karma

Vote for pro choice candidates. Support medical students for choice. The doctors providing abortion services are aging and no medical schoolis currently training doctors due to anti-choice lobbying tactics

truss_it11 karma

Do you see the draconian antiabortion laws of Texas as a bad omen for the rest of the country? Is there hope my home state can turn around and join the 21st century again?

IAmAProviderAMA37 karma

my experience is that politicians are followers not leaders..they just want to be re-elected. Do some grass roots organizing and send a message to the legislative body that Texan women and men will not go back to seeing illegal abortions. Interestingly, the number of abortions performed have not changed in 50 yrs..only change is that now it is legal. Making it illegal will not stop abortion, it will only kill women and render them sterile.

FilthyMcNasty1087 karma

What kind of guidance do you provide for the men who may feel it's best them and for their partner to have an abortion, but conflicted as to how they might express this to their partner in a way that sounds supportive of their physical and emotional well-being?

IAmAProviderAMA14 karma

First of all I congratulate them for being honest. I have collected and developed several written brochures for significant others. I encourage people to use "I" messages. "I" feel like...rather than "you" should..

holyshmoke7 karma

First, thank you for doing what you do despite some of the horrific experiences you've had.

My questions are, what do you say to friends/family/strangers when they ask what you do and if you tell them and they respond negatively, what do you say then?

And second, what sort of studies/experience did you have or need to get into this line of work?

IAmAProviderAMA21 karma

Once early in my career a woman asked what I did I told her I was the head nurse in an abortion clinic..we were seated in swivel chairs, she swivel away..Now today, most people are proud to have me as a friend and proud of the work I continue to provide..or maybe I just don't associate much with the others

derpaherpa6 karma

[deleted]

IAmAProviderAMA15 karma

In the late 60s there was a network of religious ministers called "pastoral counselors" who gave information to women seeking abortion. I found licensed physicians who would provide abortion services. Obviously, it was risky for all involved.

kurisu78853 karma

I dunno if you're still answering this ma'am, but, have you had patients who wish to contribute to STEM cell research, or at the least do you know how that is handled?

IAmAProviderAMA7 karma

In the late 70's when Carter was president NIH collected embryonic tissue (all patients signed a consent for tissue release for research) this research was halted when Reagan was president. Ironically, it was the forefront for stem cell research that Nancy Reagan lobbied for and we would today be much further if then Pres Reagan hadn't stopped the funding.

GaGaORiley3 karma

How often do you see abortion used as first-line contraception? (I'm not sure of the correct term - what I mean is, women who take no other measures to prevent pregnancy and have the attitude that they can "just get rid of it") - my suspicion is that these are very few and far between.

IAmAProviderAMA24 karma

I have not seen this. In the early 70s women were taught to 'wait for Mr. Right' and so they did not use contraceptives believing that would make them less desirable to Mr Right and his white horse..But they did not have an abortion in a cavalier manner ... Now contraceptive use is at an all time high even among teenagers

PM_ME_UR_BEWBS_PLS3 karma

What is your current view on Abortion regarding politics?

IAmAProviderAMA30 karma

I do not think abortion should be regulated any more than any other medical or surgical procedure. Abortion is safer than getting a shot of penicillin and 9 times safer than childbirth; yet it continues to be the most regulated in the health care industry. Not because of concern for women's health, but because of religious-influenced politics.

vanoreo3 karma

Have you tried convincing aggressively pro-life catholocs that being pro-choice is not immoral?

Have you had any success?

How did you do it if you did?

IAmAProviderAMA14 karma

I was once approached to start a "common ground" organization. Only the head of a religious adoption agency and myself agreed; although many were invited. We had very good conversations. It came to a halt when the gentleman died suddenly and no one else in his organization was interested. I was also invited to speak at a pro-life conference at the annual March for Life in DC; but it was a farce - they were not interested in my view only meant to ridicule me.

Boornidentity2 karma

British Guy here. What is your view on Abortions being granted on the NHS?

IAmAProviderAMA9 karma

NHS meaning National Health Service? I do not think women's health should be targeted. If we provide coverage of Viagra we should cover birth control pills. If we cover other elective surgery, such as vasectomy, we should cover abortion services.

elzombino2 karma

Ok, my question must first be prefaced with my experience upon accompanying a female friend in Norther Nevada for an abortion.

Upon entering the facility, which is boasted as a multi-million dollar compound with bulletproof and bomb proof doors and windows, we first noticed the protesters across the street. Before we arrived, we had prepared for them, and figured they'd be the worst of it. We were wrong.

There were loudspeakers set up, facing the protesters, blaring heavy metal, and calling them "assholes" in between songs, and 8 ft tall signs "PRIESTS RAPE BOYS" and "THESE PEOPLE ARE THE REAL TERRORISTS"

Keep in mind, these are all posted by the clinic themselves.

We walk in the door, sign in, then sit in the lobby. There are 2 TVs, playing a 30 minute loop of news clips detailing abortion clinic bombings and assassinations of providers, as well as showcasing the shooting skills of the doctor on staff and bomb-proof features of the clinic itself.

Needless to say, this place made me nervous, downright scared to even be there. I can only imagine how my female companion felt about being there. Needless to say, we left. We are considering going to another provider in California, but she doesnt want to end up having the same experience.

My experience with abortion clinics is vert limited (that was my first time) but I'm wondering if scenes like this are the norm for abortion clinics?

IAmAProviderAMA2 karma

WOW that is an incredible experience! I have not heard of this before. I am glad you left. Try to get a referral from NAF or your local Planned Parenthood. Good luck

ohheythererene2 karma

What are the real medical risks associated with abortions? I can't help but believe not all of what I've heard about it is true.

IAmAProviderAMA2 karma

Here's some information about the complications. Abortion is one of the safest procedures and has a very low complication rate. Information

Also - worldwide statistics

iheartbaconsalt-4 karma

I think abortion is a great thing, easy and safe mostly. People should just get over it and realize there is no God and that their little lump isn't going to heaven or hell.

My question of course is morbid and gross. Can you explain the disposal process? Or does it all go to "science." I'm sure it depends on the age of the abortion too I guess, unless they all get trashed. Oh wait, do people have fucking funerals for their lumps? I hope not.

I was born in 75, so you're probably just under 65. Thanks for doing this AMA. I'm sorry I didn't have a less icky question.

EDIT: My wife would like to know: How hard is it emotionally? Or do you just consider it body waste and let it go?

IAmAProviderAMA27 karma

99% of abortions performed are done before 8wks..when the pregnancy tissue is still an embryo..all medical waste must be sent to bio-hazard disposal facility. An 8 wk embryo is about the size of a lima bean

BrachiumPontis-9 karma

think abortion is a great thing, easy and safe mostly.

I think it's important to distinguish between good and a necessary evil. It is sad that the potential for an entire life is lost when an abortion takes place. That sadness doesn't mean abortion should be illegal, but I don't think it should be celebrated either.

IAmAProviderAMA35 karma

What should be celebrated is that as a woman I/you can chose whether and when to have a child..this is not something to be mandated by the State

Eternally65-4 karma

[deleted]

IAmAProviderAMA12 karma

When I submitted the post. I messaged them proof.

sadiesdenimskirt-4 karma

What are some of the most common reasons you see women coming into your clinics to have abortions? I.E. too young for motherhood, can't afford a child, health in danger, etc.

And if this is too personal, you don't have to answer but: how do you deal with the more "gory" aspects of an abortion? Obviously you don't believe that fetuses are "babies" as some would say, but at least you recognize that the fetus is a "potential human" or "future human." Have you had a tough time psychologically dealing with that?

IAmAProviderAMA7 karma

The majority of women already have children and don't want/can't afford another. Statically speaking, the majority of women who have abortions are married and have children already, which is something most people don't know.

bitcoins-14 karma

What haunts your dreams?

IAmAProviderAMA62 karma

You