What else is on the menu at the Abortion Spa?

Let’s talk about selling abortion to the next generation as a day of pampering at the spa.

Early cover design for The Spider & The Fly, Simon & Schuster, 2002

Early cover design for The Spider & The Fly,
Simon & Schuster, 2002

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
~from The Spider and the Fly: A Fable by Mary Howitt



The Washington Post reported this week Carafem, an abortion business seeking to build its brand by offering women a spa-like experience.

The headline reads:

New spa-like abortion clinic is part of a trend to ‘destigmatize’ the procedure

In describing the atmosphere of “natural wood floors” and “plush upholstery” located in a “tony” neighborhood, we learn the clients will be welcomed with “warm teas, comfortable robes, and a matter-of-fact attitude.” An ad campaign features the slogan, “Abortion? Yeah, we do that.”

There’s a disconnect here, though. This facility is offering only medical abortions which are not commonly referred to as “procedures” at all. Many people are not aware of the difference between a medical abortion and a surgical one. A medical abortion is generally only done up to 10 weeks gestation and involves taking a course of medications over two or three days. Then you wait it out, generally at home, until the fetus is expelled, generally into your toilet. The reason women resort to the toilet is the copious bleeding that accompanies the stillbirth of the fetus.

I am not meaning to be crass, but again, many people aren’t aware of these facts, and none of this got mentioned in the midst of reporting on the comfy robes and plush upholstery.

I had a surgical abortion and it was traumatic enough, but at least it was over that day. One woman described her medical abortion to me as horrific. She was shocked and appalled not just by the heavy bleeding, but moreso to be confronted with the body of her baby. She was told only that there would be clotting.

Illustration from babycenter.com

10-week fetus illustration from babycenter.com

She described what looked to her like one of the tiny baby rabbits she’d seen when tending her family pet.

She said picked up the body and cradled it in her palm as she wrestled with whether or not to flush the remains.

She chose to dispose.

And then she kept bleeding for more than two weeks.

She finally asked her parents for help and got to see her family physician to tend to her loss of blood and emotional trauma.

So, yeah, just another day at the spa.

The Washington Post story made me angry, not only on this young woman’s behalf, but because the headline and reporting evoked images of a surgical “procedure”–something not even on the menu at the abortion spa, but at least something that would require a robe and tea.

Which makes me wonder:

  • Why does a woman need a robe and tea to pick up a prescription for meds?
  • Are they offering care for the actual expulsion? If so, is that an inpatient experience, since it can take hours, or in some cases, days for the medication to become effective?
  • Is there still a robe and tea available for the grieving which may follow?

This pandering to women is revolting and crass in the extreme. De-stigmatize is the new battle cry for those who realize how desperately abortion needs a re-brand now that so many of us are revealing the harm we’ve experienced. The site my abortion was clean, bright and efficient. There was no comfy robe, but the office wasn’t in any way squalid or dark. The darkness and stigma were on my heart and soul from having subjected my body to the wilfull destruction of life, the life of my own child.

What women need is the actual support and care of people who have their true interests at heart. Not just in the moment when expediency seems the best answer but for the long haul, and beyond–to their eternal good.

Carafem presents us a striking parallel to Mary Howitt’s Fable of The Spider and the Fly. We’d do well to heed her warning:

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

What do you think? Let’s talk about this together.

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Kim Ketola



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