I Had An Herbal Abortion Because Going To A Clinic Made It Too Real

I needed to take care of this myself.

woman sobbing on bed Dragana Gordic | Shutterstock

I remember exactly where I realized it: I was sitting on the river rocks with Maren. "I last got my period..." I trailed off.

Suddenly, I realized that within a week of college graduation, I was two weeks late. Not very pregnant, but you can't be a little bit pregnant, and I definitely was. I had a clockwork 28-day cycle; I just hadn't been paying attention.

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I played it off then. Oh, I'm late, haha. When we went home, I started googling herbal abortions. I needed that baby out of me  and I needed it out quick.

I had grown up Catholic. I'd been to abortion protests, and held signs that read "ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART." I knew the theology behind anti-abortion; I knew it killed an actual human being. But at that moment, I couldn't let myself care.

I didn't even think about it, didn't connect the two. I couldn't deal with the shame of unwed pregnancy. I couldn't deal with a baby. I simply couldn't be pregnant, and this was the only avenue offered.


And the father? I didn't even know who he was. There were three candidates: two one-night stands, and one a guy who would take full responsibility. I didn't want to ruin his life for a baby that might not even be his. Before, my sexual games had felt like fun, like skipping through a candy store and pointing to what I wanted. Now, I felt like a slut.

Clinics scared me. Clinics made it real. I would have to have money for a clinic. I needed to take care of this myself.

I discovered an easy fix to an early-term pregnancy, one recommended by several midwives who maintained websites for this sort of thing. A common, harmless pill, taken in serious excess, would make you lose the baby. I walked across the road, alone, to the student union. And, alone, I bought a giant-size bottle of the pills. I didn't tell anybody.

As the website said, it took two days. I downed the pills every two hours during the day, with a super-dose at bedtime. I began to worry it wouldn't work. I didn't know what I would do. My parents were coming down in a few days.


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I didn't think of it as a baby; instead, it was "the problem" or "the issue." And "the issue" had to be resolved. So I palmed the pills, four at a time, and tossed them back with water from my dorm room sink.

On the third day, it started early in the morning, first as a twinge, like period pains. That's how the website phrased it; the pills would "bring on your period" if you took them long enough, and at a dose strong enough. I smiled to myself, the relief curling around those twinges. And I tapped out another four pills.

I ate breakfast with the twinges, noticing that they had become somewhat regular. And a little bit stronger. I went back to my dorm, and when I peed, noticed a little bit of blood. It was happening. I had done it. It was happening the miscarriage, I called it in my head. The miscarriage was happening. It was coming out, too small to see, but coming nonetheless.


The pain intensified to strong period cramps. I took some aspirin and got in the shower. The white tile splattered with blood. Too much blood for a normal period. The pain increased and I clutched my stomach. Blood smeared on the floor. Was the baby in this? I wondered. Was the baby part of all this blood coming?

I put in a tampon. You're really not supposed to do that when you're miscarrying, but I had no idea and probably wouldn't have done any different if I had. I thought maybe I could distract myself, so I went out to the lobby to see who was around.

"I have the woooooorst cramps," I gasped to several of the girls. I dangled myself over the back of the couch, my stomach resting against the headrest. The pain came in waves. I now would compare it to about midway through labor.

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"If you really hurt," my assistant principal said, "go drink some skim milk. It'll make your cramps stop immediately. But it has to be skim. Some of my girlfriends told me," he said, explaining why a portly gay man would know period remedies.

Not thinking that I was miscarrying and not actually on my period, I went across the street and bought some skim milk from the student union. I hate milk, but I chugged it. Anything to make the pain stop. And weirdly, it helped somewhat. The pain began to subside. I needed a new tampon already, and I was using ultras.

It tapered off after that. The pain receded into normal period cramps. The bleeding slowed to normal period bleeding. It had finished. It was done and taken care of. Everything was OK again.


When my mother arrived two days later, I posed with her for graduation pictures in the garden. I had a miscarriage two days ago, I thought fleetingly as the camera snapped. I smiled. No, I really gave myself an abortion.

The smile held. I adjusted my tassel. I had a life to live.

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Alissa Scully is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom. She got he degree in English and spends much of her time teaching freshmen, political activism, and media work.