NARRATIVE ESSAYS

Abortion Hotline in 55-Word Stories

Sarah E. Stumbar, MD, MPH

Fam Med. 2022;54(8):650-651.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2022.294664

8 am

On-call shift begins
Text from overnight, simply
Help.
Message back: I’m the doctor on call. How can I help?
Hours pass, no reply.
Imagine a place where women do not need to text
faceless strangers in the middle of the night
for abortion help.
I google the area code: Dallas, Texas.
This isn’t that place.

11 am

Another message
We exchange texts
She had a medication abortion two weeks ago,
cramped and bled for days,
no longer feels pregnant,
but her test is positive.
A simple answer: Pregnancy hormones remain in urine for a month
or more.
Clear relief: Thank you.
A nameless doctor answering questions when the local clinic risks shame

12 noon

Another text: she’s remembering her abortion
three years ago, and
feels sad, needs support
Many women feel that way, even years later
But we know our bodies, what choices are right for our lives
Message resources for online and hotline support
She must be so alone,
reaching out to a stranger rather than a friend

2 pm

I need an abortion but don’t have $
I don’t google the 305 area code—it’s my city
No Medicaid funding for abortions in Florida
but multiple clinics in our county
We message about sliding scale fees and abortion funds
A moment for ensuring reproductive justice,
abortion must be legal and accessible
in all 50 states

5 pm

First phone call, as my shift ends
She wants to get abortion pills online,
but she’s scared and nervous
Are they safe? Legal? How do I take them?
She’s reassured about the medical concerns
Referred to a legal hotline
Texted a link for online pills
For our autonomy, the
right to choose
must be preserved

Lead Author

Sarah E. Stumbar, MD, MPH

Affiliations: Department of Humanities, Health, and Society, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami

Corresponding Author

Sarah E. Stumbar, MD, MPH

Correspondence: Dr Sarah Stumbar, Department of Humanities, Health, and Society, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, AHC2-485, Miami, FL 33199

Email: sstumbar@fiu.edu

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