Far too many of the bereaved mothers who arrive at Ending a Wanted Pregnancy report being subjected to prying questions and inconsiderate comments from medical professionals. This maltreatment is not limited to the appointments leading up to a medically indicated abortion; it often extends to follow-up appointments, visits related to subsequent pregnancies, infertility appointment or with just about any doctor’s office visit having to do with reproductive health.
Sometimes the insensitivity occurs at appointments having nothing at all to do with reproductive health. Some women even find themselves, years out, feeling cornered at an appointment when asked why her number of pregnancies is different from her number of living children. Sometimes the medical professional demanding these details doesn’t really need the answers, but asks prying questions anyway. Often, an insensitive question arises “innocently” when a medical provider fails to read your chart first.
In an effort to address her own concerns about this kind of mistreatment, a member of our old message board shared a letter she’d written to present to her medical care providers as she embarked on her quest to get pregnant again. We admired her peaceful, preemptive approach so much that we asked her permission to share her letter in template form. We have removed her personal details of course, and replaced them with prompts in bold and brackets.
Dear Medical Professional,
I am presenting you with this letter in the hopes that you will read it (and my chart) before discussing my medical situation with me. If you are not able to deal with me professionally and compassionately after reading this letter, I would prefer to know before the appointment or procedure.
My husband and I terminated a pregnancy at [number of weeks or months] gestation. Our [son, daughter, baby, fetus] had [diagnosis], a [debilitating/severe/hopeless/incompatible with life] condition in which [he/she] would [further describe condition if you so choose].
We chose to end the pregnancy after realizing that [he/she/our baby] would suffer upon entering this world. [You might also mention any danger the pregnancy posed to you, if applicable]. Our situation was dire. We agonized over our decision. [She/he] was our child, and we loved [him/her] very much.
[State what this appointment is for. Example, “I am now trying to get pregnant once more, hopefully with a healthy baby. It takes every ounce of bravery and resolve that I have to embark on this journey again.”]
If, for any reason, you have a religious, political, or emotional reason why you cannot treat me with dignity, kindness, and professionalism, please let me know now, and I will look for care elsewhere.
We applaud our community member on devising such a positive way to communicate with medical professionals about her delicate situation, and for her willingness to share her approach with the rest of us.
We are including a link to this letter template in our EWP Survival Guide.