What does abortion have to do with substance use?

I started this blog to highlight need for harm reduction with regard to substance use disorders. I hoped to show the value of human life, even for people who use drugs. They may have a substance use disorder, a mental health condition or just enjoy substances. Using drugs shouldn’t be a death sentence.

I show many letters and poems my son, Sean Blake wrote over the years. To personalize his struggle. He tried to stop, he even went to jail, thinking he could stop by being incarcerated. He did stop, for about a year, he was sober. However, he returned to using and didn’t want help. While having alcohol and marijuana at a party, he inadvertently used fentanyl. We don’t know what he thought he was using…It ended his life. People were outside the bathroom door, they would have helped if they knew, they thought he was taking a shower.

With the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to our supreme court, I worry we may go back to the dark ages of septic abortion. As a practicing Ob/Gyn, I was trained to fear the history of pregnancy termination in the US. My wise mentors would get a look on their face, describing the horror of losing young women to infections from a “coat hanger or back door” termination. These were, by and large, conservative white men. Staid men, who wouldn’t vote republican for fear of overturning Roe V. Wade.

I took my oral boards in 1996, the final exam question was how to treat gas gangrene of the uterus. This infection was commonplace before 1972. Once the infection gets into the myometrium (the uterine muscle), a hysterectomy is necessary. The examiners tried to get me to try to just give some antibiotics. They said “She wants to have children” I said “She can’t have kids if she’s dead” Needless to say I passed. This is the closest Xray photo I can find to the picture on my board exam.

The uterus is outlined in gas from the infection. The gas makes the uterus look black. I sincerely hope, for our country we don’t have to turn to doing hysterectomies on 22 year olds because they had an illegal termination.

Termination is going to happen. Whether you like it or not. You don’t have to be prochoice or prolife to be a harm reductionist. It seems pretty prolife to me. Just like substance use is going to happen, abortion is going to occur. Let’s make it safe. Let’s not make criminals out of patients.

Author: for-kindness

Sean Blake, our son was 27 when he died from an accidental overdose. Sean was for kindness. Writings, poems, and posts to keep his spirit alive. We share posts to remember Sean, advocate for better treatment for mental health. We share our journey through life after his death for parents of loss.

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