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Pro-choice woman describes RU-486 abortion ordeal

IMG_1881 pillRU-486, the abortion pill, is offered to women who are less than nine weeks pregnant. When it first became available in the United States, pro-choice activists rejoiced. They believed that it would make abortion more readily available to women.

Abortion providers say that RU-486 is safe and effective. According to abortion provider Dr. David Grimes:

I just don’t see any downsides. For those women who don’t like the invasiveness of surgery, it gives them a very important option.

In an article in Marie Claire titled “Betrayed by a Pill,” a pro-choice woman named Norine Dworkin-McDaniel gives another perspective when she describes her RU-486 abortion.

She starts out by talking about how happy she was when RU-486 became an option for women.

From the moment it was approved in 2000, I believed in the abortion pill. Finally! Abortion would finally become what it always should have been: a private medical matter between a woman and her doctor. It held the promise of swift, at home termination. There would be no more gauntlets of protesters at clinics, because who would know which physicians were dispensing the pills? Even better, the pill would keep abortion accessible at a time when fewer gynecologists were willing to perform them out of fear of attacks.

Dworkin-McDaniel eventually faced an unplanned pregnancy. According to her, when she became pregnant, she was using cocaine and would “work all day, and party, party, party all night.”

She worried that her drug use would cause medical problems for the baby:

No matter what I did from this point on, there would always be a chance that the baby would have problems – maybe physical ones, maybe psychological issues. I wasn’t willing to roll the dice with another life.

So Dworkin-McDaniel decided to end that life instead.

She describes how she decided not to have a surgical abortion:

There was the surgical option of course. I’d had one in college (so you think I would’ve learned this lesson already) and I dreaded the needle that would be used to numb my cervix.

The abortion would be done by RU-486 (mifepristone), which would kill the baby. Then a second drug (misoprostol) would cause her to expel the embryo and placenta.

She says:

The Mifeprex literature described some cramping and bleeding, “similar to or greater than a normal, heavy period.” This sounded far more appealing than surgical abortion. A few pills, a couple of cramps, and it would all be over. We could move on with our lives.

But it didn’t work out as she had planned.

She took the mispristone and then, two days later, prepared to administer the misoprostol:

Clinic staffers had directed me to insert the tablets into my vagina in the morning so I’d have the day to recover. I envisioned recuperating on the couch with some uncomfortable but bearable cramps and soothing myself with bad daytime TV.

I never made it to the couch.

She describes in detail what happened:

Nothing – not the drug literature, the clinic doctor, not even my own gyno – had prepared me for the searing, gripping, squeezing pain that ripped through my belly 30 minutes later. I couldn’t even form words when Stewart [her boyfriend] called to check on me. It was all I could do to gasp, “Come home! Now!” For 90 minutes, I was disoriented, nauseated, and, between crushing waves of contractions, that I imagine were close to what labor feels like, racing from the bed to the bathroom with diarrhea.

Then, just as quickly, it was over. The next night, I started bleeding. I bled for 14 days. A follow-up ultrasound confirmed that I’d aborted. And that’s when the problems really began.

I had been prepared for the possibility that the pill wouldn’t work and I’d still need a surgical abortion – that happens in about 5 to 8 percent of cases. I also knew that I might bleed so heavily I’d need surgery to stop it… [But] what blindsided me, apart from being battered by the mifepristone, with a huge, cystic boils that soon covered my neck, shoulders, and back. I was also overcome by fatigue – an utter lack of ability to do anything more strenuous than sleep or lie on the couch. My brain felt so fuzzy – English seemed like a 2nd language, and I couldn’t work. On top of all that came depression; I sobbed constantly. I wouldn’t leave the house. I stopped showering.

It was only when I described my symptoms to my gynecologist that I discovered my experience wasn’t all that unusual. (The Mifeprex literature didn’t even mention it.) “I think it’s underreported, but probably one in 3 women have dramatic side effects,” he told me. My body was in total chaos – pregnancy hormones clashing with anti-pregnancy hormones clashing with stress hormones. “I’ve seen a lot of women go through it – I don’t want to call it postpartum, but post event melancholy that’s more dramatic than people want to admit.” He prescribed antidepressants. “One day, you’ll feel just like your old self.” It took 9 months.

Dworkin-McDaniel describes going back to the clinic and talking to one of the clinic workers:

“We could have told you it wasn’t going to be easy,” a clinic staffer noted when I rattled off my complaints during my follow-up.

Why didn’t she speak up sooner?”

Dworkin-McDaniel’s story is similar to that of Abby Johnson. Johnson was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic when she had an RU-486 abortion. She too was unprepared for the ordeal. You can read her story here.

Johnson describes the agonizing pain and heavy bleeding she experienced. At one point she says:

I knew I had to get up and wash the blood off of me. I stood up slowly and straightened out my body. As soon as I was completely upright, I felt a pain worse than any other I had experienced. I began to sweat again and felt faint. I grabbed on to the side of the shower wall to steady myself. Then I felt a release…and a splash in the water that was draining beneath me. A blood clot the size of a lemon had fallen into my bath water. Was that my baby? I knew this huge clot was not going to go down the drain, so I reached down to pick it up. I was able to grasp the large clot with both hands and move it to the toilet. I stood in the warm shower for a few minutes…feeling a little relief from the cramping. Then came the excruciating pain again. I jumped out of the shower and sat on the toilet. Another lemon sized blood clot. Then another. And another. I thought I was dying. This couldn’t be normal. Planned Parenthood didn’t ever tell me this could happen. This must be atypical. I decided that I would call them in the morning…if I didn’t die before then. It was around midnight and I had been in the bathroom for a good 12 hours. I knew I couldn’t leave yet. I didn’t want to lay in the bed…the bleeding was too heavy. And the clots were still coming; not as often, but they were still coming. So, I decided to sleep on the bathroom floor that night…right by the toilet. The cold floor felt good on my face. I was physically depleted, but I could not sleep.

In the morning, she called the clinic:

The next morning, I called Planned Parenthood as soon as they opened and asked to speak to the nurse. I was told she would call me back soon. She did. I told her about my previous day. She told me, “That is not abnormal.” WHAT?? She could not be serious. All of the bleeding, the clotting, the pain…that was NORMAL??? “Yes,” she said. “Use heating pads, soak in a warm tub, and take Ibuprofen.” I was angry. How could they not tell me the side effects? I felt betrayed.

She goes on to say:

At a management meeting, I voiced my concerns. Why weren’t we talking about the risks? Why hadn’t anyone told me? “Well, we don’t want to scare them,” my supervisor said. “Oh, like they are scared when they think they are dying from the amount of blood they are losing because we choose not to tell them that is supposedly normal,” I responded. That didn’t go over too well. That was their answer? They didn’t want women to be scared?? The night of my medication abortion, lying on the cold bathroom floor, I had never been so scared.

It’s true that not every woman who uses RU-486 has such a terrible experience. But these bad experiences are more common than many abortion providers would have us believe. Abortion clinics present RU-486 as an easy option. Often, it is anything but.

Source: Norine Dworkin-McDaniel “BETRAYED BY A PILL” Marie Claire (US), Jul2007, Vol. 14 7, p184-186

  • belgianchic

    i can’t even imagine what that would be like if abortion was illegal and you had no other options…

    • Elisabeth

      You’d still have the option of carrying to term….
      Still, you make a very good point. Since these drugs (like all drugs) can be sold illegally online, there wouldn’t be an influx of self-made surgical abortions if abortion became illegal. Women who were really determined to abort would just buy the drugs online (or from your local drug dealer.)

      • PrincessJasmine4

        Good point
        It’s not like laws against rape would really stop a determined rapist from raping someone

        • DianaG2

          Or armed robbery.

          There are so many armed robberies, despite its criminalization. We should just make it legal. So far, the laws criminalizing it haven’t stopped it.

          • PrincessJasmine4

            Or pedophilia.
            It happens so often especially in classrooms that we really should take away the shame a teacher and middle school student would feel about their “love”

          • DianaG2

            Actually, there was an organization that (seriously!) made a similar proposal: NAMBLA :-((

            Something about “Man-Boy Love” Blech!! I think they’ve been shut down in this country. They’re only “functioning” in Switzerland, or Denmark, or some such.

          • PrincessJasmine4

            Oh no, they’re still here and ACLU has defended them :-(

          • DianaG2

            Is this true??

          • PrincessJasmine4
          • DianaG2

            Wow!! Horrible. Even their own website can’t think of much to say.

            That case is kind of interesting, though. I don’t understand what the ACLU is doing for NAMBLA?? Those defendants have been convicted of murder.

            Was there a liability case v. NAMBLA??

            Thanks for the links, Princess.

        • Elisabeth

          Well it would stop some women. And hopefully the women who are really determined would do so without killing themselves.

      • Basset_Hound

        If abortion weren’t such an easy option, a lot more women would find the emotional resolve to carry to term, or to say “no”, and not get involved in meaningless, loveless sex in the first place.

        • belgianchic


          • Basset_Hound

        • DianaG2

          Yes, if it were not universally condoned and accepted it, it would not be considered an easy way out of the “problem” of a new person on the way.

      • belgianchic

        of course you have the option of doing so, and i would support any choice a woman makes about her body. and so if women experience these side effects, and even worse, they would be afraid to seek medical attention because it was illegal…awkward

        • PrincessJasmine4

          That’s not true.. people who have od’d on illegal drugs show up at the emergency all the time..


          • belgianchic

            ….and the vast majority of them don’t….awkward

          • PrincessJasmine4

            and your evidence for this is?

          • DianaG2

            Yes, I’m waiting to hear your answer, also. As far as I know, it might be true.

          • DianaG2

            Are you saying most people who OD on drugs do not go to the ER?

            Perhaps because they’re incapacitated?

          • MamaBear

            Actually, I would not be surprised if women having chemical abortions are less likely to show up at the emergency rooms than drug ODs. When women get surgical abortions, they are often told to contact their abortion clinic or doctor instead of going to the emergency room. Do they tell them that when they give them these pills, too?
            Most women I have known who had miscarriages went to the ER or their OB/GYN due to the bleeding and pain. Seems odd these women do not unless they were given instructions not to

          • DianaG2

            excellent point —- sorry i’m in bed sick. 2 lazy 2 hit shift lol

        • DianaG2

          The charge would be for the doctor, not the mom who had sought an abortion. AWKWARD!!

          I think illegal abortions might have actually been somewhat safer. Now that abortion is legal, the clinic has no motivation to save a woman’s life if something goes wrong. Saving her life might be too expensive.

          If a woman dies, the mistake will not be publicly known. If she lives. So, the clinic is better off if shes dies anyway.

          There are so many videos online of medical professionals and clinic professionals, who attest to this.

          Main thing here, though: If you think fewer or no women have died from legal abortion, then I have a bridge you might want to buy.

    • PrincessJasmine4

      Ya ya ya
      And slave owners couldn’t imagine what it would be like if slavery was made illegal and they had no other choice

      • belgianchic

        haha and the award for worst analogy goes to….

        • PrincessJasmine4


          And the award for someone in the most denial goes to….the pro abort

        • DianaG2

          It’s not a bad analogy. You just want to say something bad about it.

      • belgianchic

        and the award for worst analogy goes to….

        • Damien Johnson

          Actually, she’s right. But at least slaves could rebel. Babies can’t.

          • DianaG2

            Yes. They can walk, talk, think and run away. The unborn cannot run.

        • DianaG2

          It’s a very good analogy,, actually. I’ve upgraded to “very good.” Before I said, “not bad.”

    • PrincessJasmine4

      What do you wanna bet that 15 years from now Canadians are going to say “I can’t even imagine what it would be like if infanticide was illegal and you had no other option..”

      If women are given a constitutional right by the law to kill the child up to age of 2, would you be ok with that law or would you protest it?

      • Basset_Hound

        Wow. 15 years from now, women of her ilk will be able to kill her child AND sell his organs…did you read this???

        • PrincessJasmine4

          So ridiculous

        • belgianchic

          women of my ilk? lol

        • DianaG2

          Well, I’m afraid to click the link, after what I just saw on that other link. It’s going to take me a while to get up the courage . . . . .

        • DianaG2

          I wish I had not read it.

          Beyond the movie, “Coma.”

      • belgianchic

        um obviusly not i would protest that, its disgusting. also canadians do not promote infanticide, that is a ridiculous group- how do I know? i’m also canadian.

        • PrincessJasmine4

          I’m also Canadian
          I just choose never to go to such horrid place
          I gave up my citizenship to that place long time ago

          Only in Canada can a woman kill her newborn and get away with it….after she’s convicted by a jury

          Infanticide isn’t even a serious enough crime to warrant life in prison in our beloved mother country
          Because, you know…infants aren’t fully formed people yet…and women are feeble-minded after childbirth etc…

          • belgianchic

            canada is a horrid place? jokes. canada is fabulous, my second country. I love Canada so much it’s not even funny. It’s actually incredibly offensive that you call Canada horrid- how would you like it if, hypothetically, you said you were from Florida and I said haha Florida SUCKS. hmm politeness much? I mean I shouldn’t expect anything more from you, but….

          • PrincessJasmine4

            no jokes.
            The 2 years I had to spend there were the worst 2 years of my life
            I could not wait to leave
            I could not wait to renounce my citizenship.
            I was met with nothingbut racism, rudeness and bullying when I was there.
            My story is not an isolated incident.

            So yes, to me, (including some of their terrible government policies) Canada is a horrid place.
            It’s not so offensive to call something what it is.
            Did you not read that I’m from Canada too?

            If you said Florida sucked, I wouldn’t care.
            It’s your opinion.
            Of course, if I was going to get offended, I’d want to know why you thought FL sucked before passing judgement.

        • Ingrid Heimark

          You are aware that some pro-abortionists have talked about the option of post-birth abortion as something that should be legal?

          • DianaG2

            No just “talked about.”


            Ever hear of Kermit Gosnell?

      • DianaG2

        Dear Princess — I did not have time to read beyond a few paragraphs of that website you linked to.

        IT’S A JOKE, RIGHT???

        Please tell me it’s a joke by some crazed anti-Canadian comedians?? I’m afraid to read more, until I obtain verification that this is an insane hoax?

        • PrincessJasmine4

          still trying to figure that out… :-/

    • Basset_Hound

      Women won’t feel so much peer pressure to sleep with guys they don’t like or trust to fit in and be accepted. They might feel some societal support for saying NO. Oh the humanity!

      • belgianchic

        that doesn’t even make any sense….? obviously women shouldn’t be pressured into making any sexual decisions they don’t feel comfortable with, and of course saying no is a perfectly valid answer.

        • Basset_Hound

          My daughter said that the peer pressure she experienced while she was in high school was relentless. My friends heard the same thing from their kids.

          • belgianchic

            i don’t think you really read what i wrote. maybe you should try again? because what I wrote is literally the same thing as what you did. Peer pressure into sexual activity is awful, shouldn’t be tolerated, is unacceptable.

          • Basset_Hound

            Spare me your indignation and your violin strings. I read your comment AND your childish texting acronym in response to my assertion that if abortion wasn’t so easy to come by, many women would find the resilience and restraint to say NO. The solution offered by your precious Planned Parenthood is for young girls to throw off their misgivings (which are a false construct of those shame based Bible thumpers) and JOIN THE PARTEEE (even though she may be just 13…even though she’s been with six different guys since last Tuesday). We, the uneducated, the uncool Duck Dynasty fans offer a different solution…to give young girls the tools to refrain from sexual activity until they have completed their educations and have the maturity to become parents.

            Unfortunately I shut down my computer that has Adobe Illustrator installed, so I’ll have to save SVG code for another message.

          • DianaG2

            BH: I agree, but I’m wondering about the SVG code and Illustrator. Just curious. None of my business, though :-)

          • DianaG2

            But, you see, dear BC: We’re not talking about anything as simple and weak as “PEER” pressure.

            It’s SOCIETAL PRESSURE now. And, it’s everywhere, not just at school.

          • DianaG2

            OMG!!! My granddaughter is sixteen!! This is really scary for me to hear about this. Idk what 2 do — other than talk to her mom (my daughter)?

            My granddaughter is reluctant to talk about something like that. I hoping her reluctance indicates that she is NOT hoodwinked by it. Maybe she just ignores it, mostly?

            She has never been susceptible to peer pressure, so that makes me feel better. I think she kinda looks at the “cool” kids as shallow morons.

            Fingers crossed.

        • DianaG2

          Not so much anymore. What difference does it make, when you can just go get an abortion anyway?

        • DianaG2

          So, it’s just that simple?

          Maybe in the world of cartoon and fantasy.

      • DianaG2

        You know, that is really why abortion is so “popular.”

        It encourages women to have irresponsible sex.

        It’s not even really ok to write the word “popular.” I realize this, because the whole thing is just an obscene hoax.

        • Ingrid Heimark

          I think that focusing on the woman having irresponsible sex is wrong and makes us seem misogynistic, the men are just as irresponsible, perhaps even more so because they can’t get pregnant

    • DianaG2

      Every mom does have other options, though. She always has the option of allowing her little son or daughter to continue to develop normally and in good health, until time for labor and delivery. Then she can decide further from there.

    • Melanie

      No other options??? Giving birth and giving the baby up for adoption is an option. How about people who are irresponsible about their sex lives make a grown up, responsible decision about the natural consequences of their actions. Everyone knows how babies are made. People who abort are willing to kill an innocent baby vs. deal responsibly with the choice they made.

    • Neal

      Really? Let me count off your non-murder options:
      1. Have the baby and raise it.
      2. Have the baby and have a friend or family member raise it.
      3. Have the baby and put it up for adoption.

      Pregnancy isn’t spontaneous. You get pregnant when you choose to do a certain series of actions. Pregnancy is fully avoidable by those who don’t want children, so murder is never your only option. When you make foolish decisions, you have to accept the consequences. I’m so sick of people doing stuff(in general) they know is stupid and then trying to get out of taking the consequences. When you do stupid things like do something you know will lead to pregnancy when you don’t want kids, you deserve whatever you get.

      • Abby

        Sex does lead to pregnancy but that is no reason why a woman shouldnt be able to engage in sex in a relationship without the fear of being trapped in an unwanted pregnancy. abortion is legal and therefore it is an option for people who do not have a problem with it

        • DianaG2

          Every “unwanted” pregnancy results in a very wanted and welcomed little son or daughter — at least FOR SOMEONE!

          The whole rhetoric of “want” —- indicates that the new little guy or gal (fetus) is only here to satisfy some particular individual’s taste or whim.

          We know that life is bigger than that. We’re better than that. We know that love, childhood, motherhood and fatherhood are more important than the act that brought them all into being.

    • Ingrid Heimark

      You always have other options

    • DianaG2

      If abortion were illegal — you would still have other options.

  • Mambear

    Doctors always seem to downplay side effects, but this sounds pretty extreme. I suspect many women if given anywhere near the straight story on possible side effects might choose to forego this “treatment.”
    As for the comment comparing it to labor, actually, it sounds a lot worse. And for labor, you are not alone on your couch or bathroom floor, you are in a hospital or birthing center under the care of doctors, nurses, or midwives.

    • DianaG2


    • pawanna

      it is worse because the cervix isn’t really ready to open – and the medicine forces it to open with very strong contractions…I had a natural miscarriage at 10 weeks and the contractions I had were much worse than the contractions I had when I had my daughter….

  • helpcenter

    The real problem is not abortion being legal or illegal. It is the fact that those who want to help women and girls to know the procedures, the risks, the long-term effects and to weigh all their options, are considered far too pro-life to be trusted. While those making literal millions of dollars selling both the pills and the surgical abortions are allowed to go unfettered, unregulated and unrestricted, giving no proper warnings or after-care. The vast majority of women, post-abortion, regret the decision and wish they had been better informed.

    • DianaG2

      Yes, I’ve been noticing this for decades. They withhold the truth, deliberately.

  • Caerus

    Miscarriage is never easy, whether it is spontaneous or brought on by an abortion pill. I feel for the women that undergo this, and pray that they someday find healing with Jesus.

    On a cool note, my mom, an OBGYN, was telling me a few days ago about a time when she treated a girl who had taken RU-486 (iirc), and then changed her mind about wanting an abortion. Days of nail biting later, they actually managed to save the baby!