The XX Factor

Abortion Patients Deserve “Spa-Like” Conditions

The shaming brigade outside a Planned Parenthood in Washington in 2005.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Sandhya Somashekhar at the Washington Post writes about efforts to reduce abortion stigma and make the experience of getting an abortion slightly less miserable. She kicks off the piece by highlighting a new clinic in Montgomery County, Maryland, whose ads read, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.” Somashekhar writes, “With its natural wood floors and plush upholstery, Carafem aims to feel more like a spa than a medical clinic.”

You can already hear the who-do-they-think-they-are responses being typed out on social media, but why shouldn’t a health clinic aim for a more welcoming experience? I know I appreciate, for instance, having a DVD player on hand during a root canal. 

Of course, the answer is that an abortion clinic isn’t just any health clinic. “Although a majority of Americans say abortion should be available in most cases, polls show roughly half of those surveyed also think abortion is morally wrong,” Somashekhar writes. Certainly, anti-choice forces want to tap into that unease. “Abortion is not pleasant,” Carol Tobias of National Right to Life told Somashekhar, “and trying to put pretty wrappings around the procedure isn’t going to make any difference.”

Well, cancer isn’t pleasant, either, but that’s not a reason to deny cancer patients fluffy robes and soothing music. Getting medical treatments in general is unpleasant. That’s exactly why health care providers should try to smooth the edges as much as possible with creature comforts. The same should go for abortion, a really common procedure that a woman runs a 1-in-3 chance of needing at some point in her life. Abortion is legal. If you want a little more misery and shame with your abortion experience, feel free to impose that on yourself, but for those who disagree, pass the fluffy robes and the herbal teas. 

Correction, March 31, 2015: Due to an editing error, the headline of this post originally stated that the clinic is located in Washington, D.C. It is located in Maryland.