I am a 24-year-old active duty U.S. Marine sergeant with the II Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. I have more than six years of service. I served one year in Japan before volunteering for embassy duty in South Africa and Germany. I came to Camp Lejeune, where I was deployed to Hurricane Katrina and later Fallujah, Iraq.
While stationed in Fallujah, I became pregnant. I have long been aware of the stigma surrounding this circumstance and knew my career would likely be over, though I have received exceptional performance reviews in the past. I knew I would have no medical privacy, and my record would be disclosed to my supervisors and coworkers. I also knew that Fallujah has a surgical unit and abortion is a simple procedure. However, I could never be treated there and would have to be sent back to the United States, where I still could not be treated at a military facility.
So basically, I was in a career-ending situation.
I obtained information on the Internet about how to cause a miscarriage by taking high doses of over-the-counter herbs and supplements. After weeks with no success, I resorted to attempting to manually dislodge the fetus by inserting objects into my cervix. There were no coat hangers to be found in Iraq, but the idea was the same.
After several attempts, I had induced an episode of severe hemorrhaging. I had read online if you soak more than one sanitary pad in an hour, it's too much. I was bleeding way more than this, but still didn't go to the hospital for already-stated reasons. At one point, my skin turned white, my ears rang and I was shaking and getting light headed. My first concern was septic poisoning, though I had done my best to sanitize the objects I had inserted into my uterus. I was sent to my room for one day of bed rest.
I thought the ordeal was over and my career had been saved. I continued to fulfill my duties as a journalist, hiding the residual sickness, assuming it was temporary anemia I could correct with vitamins and fluids. But five weeks after my episode of severe bleeding, I was still having pregnancy symptoms. I repeated the process, taking a large amount of herbs and using my rifle cleaning rod, a pen, and my laundry pin to self-induce the abortion.
The next morning, I woke up with a dull ache in my lower back, stomach and thighs. The pain intensified until that evening, when I finally gave up my fight to free myself from my situation. I felt defeated, and I told my supervisor a 15-second summary of what was going on. She was more sympathetic than I had expected, and wanted to arrange for me to go on leave early so I could go to the States and see a doctor. I initially agreed, but quickly changed my mind. I was already in too much pain, and I needed to go to a doctor immediately.
The next morning, after an ultrasound, they made immediate plans to send me back to the United States to have the procedure completed. The doctors readily recognized I could completely miscarry at any minute, but were going to send me on a 4-5 day trip around the world with no medical escort. However, that night I was in severe pain and passed the pregnancy on my own.
I later suffered other consequences. I had violated Article 92 (disobeying an order) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and would receive non-judicial punishment for having sex in Iraq. I had previously been warned by my officer-in-charge that in addition to having sex, I could possibly also be charged with fetal homicide. I had my rank reduction suspended, and was fined $500.
Ironically, I would have spent approximately that much if I had paid for the procedure to be provided by a medical professional in the States. -- Amy*; Iraq (as reported to NAF)