I Learned How to Do an Abortion on a Papaya
Papaya workshops have become a popular way to demystify and destigmatize abortion.
by Marie Solis
Jul 24 2019
“This is a 10-week gravid uterus,” Zoey Thill said, holding up a "pregnant" papaya the size of a large fist. “And this,” she added, gesturing to her own pregnant belly, “is a 38-week gravid uterus.”
Thill, a New York City-based abortion provider, was explaining the anatomy of the uterus to a group of about a dozen of us, in Verso Books’ Brooklyn office on a Monday night.
Not Your Grandmother’s Illegal Abortion
By Jennifer Block
July 1, 2019
The sola variety of papaya resembles a pregnant uterus, so much so that around the world, humans use the fruit to learn one method of modern reproductive health care: manual vacuum aspiration, or MVA, a low-risk, low-tech method of first-trimester abortion that requires little or no anesthesia. As one doctor remarked at a conference in 1973, where the technology was introduced to physicians from around the world, “it’s something we will be able to bring practically into the rice paddy.”
This, too, is the fruit I have been given to practice on. I’ve placed it on a table across from me, and I’m focused on the neck, where its stem grew, which evokes the cervical os. The tool I’m using is a large plastic syringe with a bendable plastic strawlike thing, called a cannula, where the needle would be. At the top of the syringe is a bivalve to create one-way suction.
The New Abortion Underground Starts With Information
The threats against safe abortions are changing—where women once feared the coat hanger, the symbol of the handcuff is now more ominous. Is arming activists with information the first step in keeping abortion accessible?
By Meghan Racklin
January 22, 2019
A papaya, it turns out, is a good model of a uterus in the early stages of pregnancy. Well—the papaya is a bit bigger, actually. And the average uterus has more of a tilt. But overall, the fruit is a close replica.
That’s what I’m told during a training session hosted by the Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP). Under the guidance of our instructor, a doctor and RHAP fellow, I insert a thin metal instrument into the top of my papaya to create an opening before inserting a small suction device called an aspirator. There’s a slight slurping sound as the papaya seeds are sucked into the aspirator’s main chamber. Slurp. Slurp. Slurp. And then it’s done.
The Future Abortionists of America
Abortions are simple procedures, yet fewer than 0.2% of U.S. doctors perform them. Meet the new guard trying to improve access for all.
Sep 4, 2018
A sign in the lobby of the Philadelphia hotel read:
THERE ARE NO EVENTS SCHEDULED FOR TODAY
Please enjoy your day!
Meanwhile, in the ballroom upstairs, a significant portion of America’s current and future abortion providers were eating breakfast. The fake-out sign was one of multiple security measures, but the atmosphere at the Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) national conference still hummed with energy. Over the course of a day and a half, 450-plus medical students tried to absorb as much information as possible about providing abortions, information that — depending on where they go to school — can be extremely difficult to get. The vast majority of attendees were women in their early twenties. When the organization’s executive director Lois Backus announced that one of the two men’s rooms would defect for the weekend, an involuntary cheer passed through the audience, followed by laughter.
Germany's medical system sidelines abortion
Abortion doctors can be hard to find in Germany. In some cities there are none, and their number appears to be declining, while medical schools often fail to teach the procedure so crucial to women. Papayas help a bit.
Author Nancy Isenson
Around 101,200 abortions were performed in Germany in 2017, or 277 each day. It's not exactly a rare procedure. Which is why future doctor Alicia Baier was disturbed to find that abortion played virtually no role in her studies at Berlin's Charité university medical school.
"In six years of studies, in which we learn many details that we will not need later, we learn almost nothing about such an important intervention," she says.