When Victoria, 45, realized she was five weeks late and the lines came back positive on two pregnancy tests, the New Orleans resident dreamed up a plan to have an abortion.
Traveling out of state was the only option for an abortion for Victoria, who asked CNN to withhold her last name for fear of backlash against her and her family. Louisiana is one of several states that have essentially banned all abortions.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, from finding out at 45 that I was pregnant, to actually taking time off from work, traveling across the country, meeting with a doctor, and Then take the pills and then come back home and then go to work like nothing happened,” Victoria told CNN earlier this year about her experience.
The story of the distance Victoria traveled and the hardships she faced to obtain an abortion reflects a broader American reality, where women seeking the procedure travel through a patchwork of states with varying levels of access.
After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v, the average time to reach an abortion facility has more than tripled, from less than 30 minutes to more than an hour and a half. Wade in 2022 as of November 1 Study In Journal of the American Medical Association. And for women in Texas and Louisiana, the average travel time to the nearest abortion facility was seven hours longer—almost a full workday in travel time to get an abortion.
Victoria says she was grateful she could drop everything and spend $1,000 for the procedure, which included a single week’s airfare with both-way connections plus appointments and medication fees.
Victoria said, “It was very difficult for me to hide the fact that I was able to do this, but I am one of the lucky ones and there are a lot of women who are in a very difficult situation.” “And, gosh, what are they going to do?”
Victoria says once she found out which states were more accessible, the plans immediately materialized.
They researched the criteria for an abortion in a state, how long they would need to take off from work, travel options, and how quickly they could get an appointment. he got abortionfinder.org She says it is a helpful and reliable source.
He said, “Since the situation is so volatile, it changes from day to day, it was really most important for me to be able to have a reliable source of information.”
Driving into a neighboring state was not an option, as every state adjacent to Louisiana has a similarly restrictive law that bans nearly all abortions. Victoria says she considered closer states, such as Florida, but ultimately dismissed them because the available placements were too far away.
“Once I saw that Oregon is so protective of reproductive rights, I said, ‘Why would I even consider going anywhere else?'” she said. “As soon as I got the definitive pregnancy result, I said, ‘Okay, let’s book a flight to Oregon. When can we do that?
She reached out to a friend from college and asked if she could stay with her, stating the reason for her visit. She then made an appointment and booked a flight for that week, she says.
The provider sent instructions, according to documents provided to CNN, which included that the patient must be in Oregon for the telehealth appointment. They contacted her within an hour of the appointment to make sure she had proof of travel documents as she made it from Louisiana, where the procedure is illegal.
Victoria plans to fly across the country and take a day off to work remotely for two days, which is appropriate for her hybrid work situation. She says she’s grateful to have a supportive, female boss who understood why she had to take unexpected time off.
Victoria said, “She was the only person I really broke down and cried for.” “I think it’s because I’ve been keeping it to myself all week, and telling her was kind of the last thing I had to do before everything was over.”
Victoria says the hardest part of her experience was telling her mother because she didn’t know how she would feel about it. Victoria and her siblings were Catholic. Her mother says that her father had a strong faith and that her mother was a non-practicing Catholic. Victoria’s mother asked not to be named for privacy reasons.
Victoria’s mother says she wanted to support her daughter, even though she didn’t agree with what her daughter had done. The mother says it made it easier for her mother to support her by buying Victoria tickets and coming to her with the whole plan.
Her mother said, “I agreed to drive her to the airport and it was the only thing I could do because it would be a real game-changing thing in her life.” “I wanted to support what she wanted to do because she has supported me through many family crises. I just wanted to do this because I love her. ,
Victoria said she appreciates her mother for supporting her in a way she didn’t expect. Both say they talked about some of her mother’s friends who had abortions over the years. Victoria’s mother also told her when she tried to get her tubes tied, but her husband found out and did not do it.
Victoria said, “I feel like, if anything, it’s made our relationship stronger.” “However, we already had a fantastically strong relationship. So, it’s just another rock in the wall.”
After boarding early on a Wednesday morning in March, Victoria made the eight-hour journey on two flights and landed in Portland, Oregon.
Victoria reunites with her friend, and they do the same things old friends do, from staying up late talking about college memories to talking about why Victoria was there. Both of them described the situation as unrealistic.
Her friend Emily said, “Most of the fertility conversations I have with my friends at the moment are people who are trying desperately to get pregnant.” Emily asked CNN not to use her last name to protect Victoria’s privacy. “The irony that unplanned pregnancy can still happen and it will still be just as devastating as it was when we were in our teens and twenties, it was kind of a shock to me.”
Emily, who has been Victoria’s friend for nearly 25 years, says it took little effort for her to drive to the airport and let her friend stay with her.
“I felt honored that he trusted me,” he said. “I was really proud of Victoria. I was impressed that she took it lightly and reached out to someone she knew – I imagine a lot of people would have been embarrassed or hidden it.
After a telehealth appointment the next day, Victoria received an overnight package.
Victoria took two drugs as part of a medication abortion. He took mifepristone at his friend’s house. The next day she took misoprostol before boarding her flight home – she was careful not to take it in her home state, where it is illegal.
“It was kind of a rough period,” she said. “I took a few Alwayes, had to get a few extra jumbo pads, and I bled a lot on the way home, but it was okay.”
Physically, she felt fine — she says she just noticed more than what was happening psychologically.
Victoria said of the experience, “I felt like I must be having some deep, psychological moment or something, but I didn’t really feel like it.” “I never wanted to have a child. I was not unhappy with the decision.
When Victoria found out she was pregnant, it came as a big shock considering she didn’t think she could get pregnant at 45, she says.
“You culturally hear a lot about your forties, being told that you’re too old to get pregnant and have a baby,” she said. “I feel like I had a false sense of security.”
Victoria jokes that she is “paying attention to menopause”, but she says she has not been diagnosed perimenopausal.
Her pregnancy news came in July 2022, several months after being treated for uterine fibroids, a benign growth, according to medical records. Victoria also tested positive PALB2 gene mutationAccording to which, the chances of breast cancer may increase A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, She had a preventive double mastectomy and reconstruction in early 2022, according to medical records provided to CNN.
She says she received an excellent standard of care during her surgery, but felt it was inconsistent with her state’s laws surrounding abortion.
“It feels so unrealistic to be receiving this high standard of care regarding my secondary sexual characteristics, but when it comes to reproductive health to have that freeze, slam, shut, it feels sudden,” she said.