Sonia Loureiro, a married mother of four, wasn’t expecting to get pregnant a fifth time. For years, she had been using a copper IUD, a non-hormonal form of birth control, which is supposed to be more than 99 percent effective.
The 34-year-old mom of four from Raleigh, North Carolina did a little online searching and quickly discovered the risks of leaving in the IUD while pregnant, including miscarriage, premature birth and potentially life-threatening placental abruption.
At around six weeks pregnant, while experiencing a sharp pain in her side and heavy bleeding, Loureiro went to see her obstetrician.
“The doctor confirmed that leaving the IUD in place was risky; surgically removing the device would end the pregnancy,” she told Slate. So Loureiro and her doctor agreed that he would try first to remove the IUD using forceps. Unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful.
Unsure of what she wanted to do—whether leave the IUD in and continue with the pregnancy or have it surgically removed—Loureiro, still in pain and bleeding, went home to discuss her options with her husband. After considering all the risks to both the fetus and Lourerio herself, the couple decided that the safest option was to surgically remove the IUD and end the pregnancy.
What Loureiro didn’t anticipate was just how difficult the process would be thanks to her state’s recently-passed strict abortion laws. When she called the clinic the following day to make an appointment, she learned she would have to wait 72 hours before having the procedure. (North Carolina is one of six states that require a 72-hour waiting period.)
“I couldn’t imagine waiting three more days in so much pain,” Loureiro said.
She was also forced to listen as the scheduling nurse read her a state-mandated script, one that went over Loureiro’s alternatives to abortion, including keeping the baby or placing it for adoption.
“It was very one-sided, almost like they want you to feel guilty,” Loureiro said. “It was not a good feeling.”
An unexpected snowstorm further prolonged the process for Loureiro and she ended up waiting a full week—in excruciating pain the entire time—to have her IUD removed and the pregnancy terminated.
Since then, Loureiro feels compelled to share her painful story.
“It’s scary and absurd,” she said of her experience trying to terminate a pregnancy. “I can’t think of any reason why they’d need to do this, unless they want to prevent women from having a choice.”