A Life’s Calling of Working with the Dead

By Monica Gomez 

Pat Elder was in her early fifties when she decided to start a new career.  

“I worked for a utility company in Michigan and when I turned 50, 25 years in, and in my mind I guess I always thought I would make a good funeral director,” said Elder.

One of Elder’s coworkers knew about her desire to work in a mortuary and connected her with a woman who worked at a local funeral home.

“I called her and she was very discouraging,” Elder said.“She told me ‘don’t do it. You work hard, you don’t make any money.’ When I hung up I thought,‘well this wasn’t good.’” Elder said.

Despite the negative feedback, Elder went back to school and obtained her degree in Mortuary Science from Wayne State University. She worked as a mortician for seven years before moving across the country four years ago to work at the School of Medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“I may be the only anatomical embalmer for a university in the state. For a while, we were even supplying for [the] Las Vegas area,” said Elder.

Anatomical Embalming Explained

Elder had been trained in the embalming process for funeral homes, which is different than anatomical embalming. In the first years of her new job, she spent a lot of time visiting other institutions to learn the trade.

“With a funeral home, the idea is, you just want to make the body presentable for family and friends, so it doesn’t require a lot of fluid or a lot on the physical side making the body look good,” said Elder. “In anatomical embalming, you want to be able to preserve that body almost on a cellular level so the process is much longer.”

The anatomical embalming process requires up to 12 gallons of fluid to permeate the body to preserve muscles and keep the bodies limp. This process is why the bodies are called cadavers. And unlike other embalming procedures, Elder doesn’t use formaldehyde.

“We don’t do that here, because isn’t very safe for the students. We use this recipe that we got from the University of Maryland and it uses phenol. The smell is very different, it’s not toxic to the students, and it leaves the body a lot more pliable,” said Elder.

Half Brain

The Cadaver Donation Process

Unlike an organ donation program, the anatomical donation program at UNR uses the entire body for student training.  

“Those [donors] who do apply indicate they do want to give something back. We’ll have retired doctors or people who are highly educated that think there is still something to give back to the world upon their death,” said Elder.

The average age of the cadavers is 70.

“I’ve had them over 100 years old, and I think the youngest I’ve had is 50.”

Brains and uteruses are harder to come by and considered commodities in this practice.

“Part of the embalming technique [for brains] is you have to really push that fluid and it has to go down to a very deep level. The first year I was here I hardly had any good brains. By the time we were done, they didn’t embalm well. The second year I got much better,” said Elder.  

Anatomy Lab

Inside the Anatomy Lab

First year medical students dissect the cadavers in teams of four.

“I think that when the medical students come in, they have one goal and that’s to heal. It’s hard for them to focus on the death side because it almost looks like a failure,” Elder said. “They may be out here dissecting, learning anatomy and thinking about the future of their patients, and I may be in the back doing an embalming.”

At the end of the year, students host a memorial service for families of the deceased. Students prepare poems, play music and share what they learned with loved ones present at the service.  

Cadaver Shelves

The bodies are cremated and the remains are spread in the foothills of the Sierra.

“We’re just erecting a memorial here on campus so that if families need an area of remembrance, that could be a focal point they could visit,” said Elder.

Elder found that working in the mortuary science industry has been a way for her to cope with the loss she’s experienced throughout her life.

“The last ten years has really been a whirlwind. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m doing for the first in my career, life – I’m doing exactly what I feel I’m called to do,” said Elder.

The Part Of The Brain That Makes Us Human from Reynolds School of Journalism on Vimeo.

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The Falconer

By Natalie Van Hoozer

Marie Gaspari-Crawford stands in the doorway of her outdoor office, the breeze rustling her hair as she looks out at her ranch.  There are rows of leashes hanging from one wall and a freezer full of frozen animal food, but none of this equipment or food is for her dogs. It’s all for her nearly ten falcons and hawks.

Gaspari-Crawford is one of 63 falconers in Nevada. She’s a Master Falconer, which means she can train apprentice falconers hoping to also get their license.  She decided to become a falconer 16 years ago.

Photo 2

Gaspari-Crawford raises and trains her falcons at her home, Rafter 66 Ranch, in Reno, Nevada. Photo by: Natalie Van Hoozer

“Falconry is just another way of hunting,” Gaspari-Crawford says. “It’s like bow hunting is another way of hunting versus shotguns or rifles.” It’s also a more challenging way of hunting, which Gaspari-Crawford says she enjoys.

Raised in a Nevada ranching family, Gaspari-Crawford had no hesitations about pursuing a sport full of life and death. In addition to hunting, falcons and hawks are subject to a myriad of diseases and injuries that may result in an untimely death for the bird.

“When you’ve worked with a bird for seven or eight months and you’ve put your heart in it, and you watch it died in your hands, it is truly heart breaking,” Gaspari-Crawford says.

Photo 3

Dartanyon is Gaspari-Crawford’s only hawk, the rest of her birds are falcons. Photo by: Kate McGee

As a falconer, Gaspari-Crawford also acts as a “bird dog” for her falcon or hawk during the hunting process, retrieving whatever game her bird is able to catch. Often, this requires Gaspari-Crawford to kill whatever animal is caught.

While ending lives may be part of her duties as a hunter, her job as a falcon breeder is focused on preservation.

“I truly believe [falcons] are amazing and I believe they serve a very vital part in our world and that we should make sure that they sustain their numbers throughout the future,” she says.

Gaspari-Crawford remembers when the Peregrine Falcon was considered an endangered species in the 1970s. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were only 324 known breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons in 1975. Falcon breeders stepped in and increased that number to roughly 3,000 breeding pairs by 2013.

Some of those same breeders also went to Peru and Mexico and trapped Aplomado Falcons, bringing them to the United States. Gaspari-Crawford says she was lucky enough to receive one of those falcons. Eventually, she also acquired a male Aplomado Falcon, which she wanted so she and her husband could hunt together with the Aplomados. She didn’t expect the male and female Aplomado to breed; it can be a tricky process. She was shocked when the two laid eggs and she decided to go along with it.  This year, she raised three falcons and decided to sell them to abatement falconers, becoming a breeder herself.  Abatement falconers are used to chase away other pesky birds from vineyards, farms and restaurants.

Photo 4

asmine and Jasper are the Aplomado Falcons who mated, prompting Gaspari-Crawford to start her breeding business. Photo by: Marie Gaspari-Crawford

“SeaWorld hires falconers because the seagulls come in and take people’s hotdogs out of their hands at the food courts, Gaspari-Crawford added. “So they fly them in the food court area to keep the pest birds away from the tourists and their customers.”

Birds of prey are also used places like the Cannes Film Festival, where hawks keep seagulls away from celebrities. Many airports also hire falconers and their birds to keep other birds from flying near the engines of airplanes.

Photo 5

Gaspari-Crawford checks on her falcons daily. Sometimes, it can take as long as three hours to care for all of them. Photo by: Natalie Van Hoozer.

Gaspari-Crawford says falcons and falconers are often misunderstood, so she likes to hold educational talks to teach people about the different uses for falcons and hawks. Gaspari-Crawford takes her birds along with her to these presentations in order to increase awareness of these birds and to reinforce their value to society.

Photo 6

Gaspari-Crawford raised Dartanyon from his infancy and says she is not nervous at all to enter his enclosure. Photo by: Kate McGee

“What you need to know is that birds of prey are very important to our world,” Gaspari-Crawford says. “They’re at the top of the food chain [and] having them go extinct would be an incredible loss.”


______________________________________________________________________________


Falcons vs. Hawks

The term “falconer” is often used broadly to refer to the bird handlers of falcons and hawks, but for master falconer Marie Gaspari-Crawford, the two types of birds could not be more different.

“The falcons are more the Lamborghini of the bird world, and hawks are more like the Chevy pickup truck,” says Gaspari-Crawford.

Both breeds are considered birds of prey, but their performance styles vary: “You can hunt both, you can dive both, one’s just a little bit more fancy than the other,” Gaspari-Crawford said.

Fun fact: The “bald eagle screech” heard on television? It’s actually the call of a Red-Tailed Hawk.

Homegrown Compost Company Revitalizes Northern Nevada Gardens

By Tim Lenard

The Witt family has been farming in Northern Nevada since 1870. For over a hundred years they ran the Milky Way Dairy farm in Minden, Nevada. Spurred by rising corn prices in the 1980s Craig Witt started looking into methods of growing his own feed. His biggest obstacle was the sandy Nevada soil. So Craig enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno, got a degree in agriculture and started making his own compost.

CraigFinal

Craig Witt believes that even Nevadans should be able to grow great tomatoes. He collects organic waste from all over and turns it into compost designed specifically for Nevada’s desert soil. Photo by: Tim Lenard

Craig is 60 years old now. He keeps an oversized sombrero tucked behind the seat of his truck. He says he has been in the sun for so long, he “doesn’t want to overdo it.”

In the late 1990s industrial dairy farms started squeezing out the small family farms. Craig sold his dairy farm in 2003, expanded the composting operation and brought in his firstborn son, Cody, to make it into a thriving business.

CodyFinal

Cody Witt is the business side of Full Circle Soils and Compost. He wants to take Craig’s special compost recipe and turn it into a successful business. Photo by: Tim Lenard

“I’m heavy on the ‘why.’ Why?” says Craig, “Because I love it. Cody will be everything else that the business needs. That’s why it will be successful.”

They set up Full Circle Soils and Compost on a 40-acre plot at the Stewart Conservation Camp, part of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. Six inmates work for the company. The camp also hosts an inmate-run dairy farm as well as a ranch for wild horses captured on BLM lands. Those horses and cows produce truck loads of manure and Craig knows exactly what to do with it.

“When you’re in the compost business we look at piles of stuff that most people look at and go ugh…and we see opportunity,” he says.

Windrows

The compost site where materials most people would throw away are ground up with horse and cow manure and transformed into humus. Rapid decomposition raises the temperature of the windrows as high as 150 degrees. Photo by: Tim Lenard

Cody turns that opportunity into partnerships with local businesses. In 2012, for example, the Atlantis Casino contracted with Waste Management and Full Circle to divert 1500 cubic yards of food scraps from the landfill to Full Circle. At the compost site scraps are ground up with grass clippings and wood chips from Tahoe residences and dumped into 400-yard windrows to decompose for 10 to 14 weeks. Craig concocted a unique compost recipe for Nevada’s desert soil. Medical marijuana growers discovered that his Soar potting mix was good for growing more than just tomatoes.

“We recently sent two semi loads of our potting mix to Humboldt County [CA],” says Craig.

cervacio2Cody says the business is “triple bottom line,” meaning they are not looking solely at profit and loss but also at their effect on people and the environment. He says the goal is to change the soil so much that both commercial growers and home gardeners don’t need to buy the product any more. He admits it may not be the traditional business model.

Farmer Craig has childlike enthusiasm for everything that grows, from the tiniest microbes to giant sequoias. He continues his search for the perfect recipe to produce big crops in Nevada. Craig remembers years ago his father told him, “You can’t grow tomatoes in Carson Valley.” So Craig planted four tomatoes at his father’s house. Later, he got a call asking what to do with all the tomatoes they produced.

The greenhouse at the compost site is Craig’s laboratory. Beneath a moss covered blanket billions of worms create nutrient rich castings, which Craig mixes into his products. He is conducting experiments to see if quinoa and amaranth can grow in Nevada. His newest experiment is testing bat guano as a source of heavy organic nitrogen.

 

Worms

“Worms are the original composters,” says Cody Witt. He and his father, Craig, use the worm castings as part of their unique compost recipe. Photo by: Tim Lenard

Craig preaches his practice of soil mixology to northern Nevada high school kids. When they tell him that they hate tomatoes he says, “Shut up and taste home grown tomatoes.” He makes salsa out of fresh-picked ingredients and gives the students a taste. After every presentation Craig says he receives a letter saying ‘tomatoes are our favorite food’.

“It’s just crazy the power that you have.”

Homegrown Compost Company Revitalizes Northern Nevada Gardens from Reynolds School of Journalism on Vimeo.

A Sound Healer’s Journey

By Kenny DeSoto

Sound healer Cheryl Lynn Bowers prepared for a healing ceremony in the Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Reno, Nevada’s Midtown District. It was dusk, and the air in the studio was warm as Bowers unloaded a small beige suitcase full of percussion instruments, tuning forks, rain sticks and artifacts to place on an altar for an offering.

“There’s a connection between sound healing and yoga that is a really beautiful way to bring the healing modalities into our community,” she said.

Bowers identifies as a sound healer and is also student and practitioner of Acutonics.

“The Acutonics program is working with a few different aspects of healing modalities,” she said. “Chinese medicine, acupressure points, which are based on the meridians of the body. We have channels of energy through our body that release and open the energy channels that flow through, bringing those into balance and harmony.”

Finding Her Path

Bowers began as a massage therapist then practiced Thai Yoga Massage and Bhakti Yoga, She eventually found her calling during a powerful sound healing experience. Now, at age 31, she realizes this method of healing is what she is destined to do.

She knew that it was time to pick up the instruments herself, in pursuit of this new career.

“I started the program over a year ago and it’s a multilayer program that involves a basis of the [sound] studies,” she said. “It involves clinical hours, study and a thesis.”

Bowers added: “The reason why I do the sound healing and why I chose the alchemy as my career path — It is my choice and it has chosen me.”

Clientele

Bowers offers private and group sound healing sessions. Her clients are primarily yogis and others who are interested in alternative forms of meditation.

“They don’t know what sound healing is but are in that space with an open mind and they will do something new, knowing that they need to open a healing space,” she said.

To diagnose clients, Bowers tries to understand where ailments may have started. Problems can start in the organs, she said, and over time that causes other areas of a client’s system to become out of alignment.

“When a client first contacts me,” she said, “we gather in a space where we can exchange information — what are they looking for, what are they feeling, how to go about making changes for what they’re looking to heal.”

Sound healer, Cheryl Bowers, meditates at her favorite trail head, The Hoge.

Sound healer, Cheryl Bowers, meditates at her favorite trail head, The Hoge.

Pre-Ceremony

In preparation for a ceremony, Bowers likes to meditate at one of her favorite overlooks in town. This evening she was at a trailhead at Peavine Mountain, called The Hoge. She explained how she spends anywhere from an hour to two hours to ground herself before a ceremony.

“It’s really significant when you are going into any kind of ceremony,” she said. “When you are working with other people’s journey and healing process it’s important to come in grounded, clear and unattached to your own personal stories and emotions. Because any energy I’m carrying, it will be carried through the work that I’m doing.”

Her preparation consists of breathing methods, chanting and giving thanks to the universe.

The most important technique when learning to meditate or when you become more in tune with meditating is … to stay in the heart but stay out of the mind.”

The Sound Healing Ceremony

“It’s important to come in grounded, clear, and unattached to your own personal stories and emotions. Because any energy I’m carrying, it will be carried through the work that I’m doing.”

“It’s important to come in grounded, clear, and unattached to your own personal stories and emotions. Because any energy I’m carrying, it will be carried through the work that I’m doing.”

Later at the studio, Bowers sets up her altar, placing a cattle’s spine, rabbit fur, roses, lemon balm, crystals, Hindu beads (Malu Beads) and a statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha — each artifact representing a natural element that is significant to the sound healing ceremony. After reciting a prayer and placing tuning forks on her feet and chest to further ground her energy, Bowers is ready for her client, who lays on her back on a blanket, flanked by about a dozen quartz bowls and other instruments.

“I have a set of seven chakra bowls, each is a specific frequency to each individual chakra within our body,” Bowers said. “They are wheels of energy from the base of our pelvis to crown of head. Each one carries a different energy, a different way of connection to our body in this world.”

The room swells with resonating harmonies as Bowers plays the different instruments. She also plays a Native American drum and uses the sound of her own voice as part of the ceremony.

“From there it’s all channeling and allowing what needs to come through energetically and spiritually and physically,” she said, “for the alchemy of myself and the person receiving.”

She continued, “There is always an exchange between yourself and the people that you are working with. When you are healing other people, you are also healing yourself.”

The process for Bowers is a cohesive experience, and there’s a special sense of gratitude exchanged between her and her clients.

“We are all connected and we are all in this together.”

Cheryl Bowers Describes Elk Skin Hand Drum.

How Vibration Can Heal

Bowers explained that the tuning forks and other instruments used are aligned with the natural vibrations of the earth and during the ceremony, sounds resonate through the client’s body.

We are [made of] energy and we are cells and when we work with vibration we get down to the deepest cellular level,” Bowers said. With exposure to intentional harmonious sound, “not only are we making a physical change in our energy’s vibration, it’s something you can feel. Within the sound ceremony you come in and your energy is one way, you leave and it’s completely changed. How that happens is sounds and vibrations. The more open you are to it the more beneficial, but even if you’re not, it’s still happening. So you can be a non-believer and still leave feeling different.”

Bowers is a ceremonial performing artist of this form of healing. She has branded herself through her business the Heart of Sound. Though Bowers practices in Reno, she also travels to perform group healings at festivals around the country.

“The pure essence of where I am in this journey is all a complete validation of this path that I’ve been walking so gracefully,” she said, “and continues to guide me to the places that I get to share this work, this medicine, and that to me is what the nature of humanity and living on this earth is about.”

Program Helps Tiny Rock Climbers Reach New Heights

By Gabriella De Leon

Imagine your two-year-old scaling a six-foot wall. It might not be as impossible as you would think. Rebecca Holwick of Peanut Butter and Jellyfish teaches young children in Reno to rock climb. Holwick can teach children as young as 18 months.

Many may doubt that toddlers belong on the wall due to their lack of coordination. However, Holwick is out to prove them wrong. She matches her classes to her students’ skill levels and slowly creates tiny climbers, or as she calls them, natural monkeys.

“Kids like to climb, they like to swing, they like to be upside down,” said Holwick. “We incorporate a lot of that natural movement and it gives them a safer space to play.”

Aiden, 3, surpasses his fears and climbs further up the wall in search for the toy cars hidden at the top.

Aiden, 3, surpasses his fears and climbs further up the wall in search for the toy cars hidden at the top. (Photo by Gabriella De Leon)

Beyond climbing, the children learn a wide variety of skills including fine and gross motor skills along with sharing, taking turns, sitting still, and every parent’s favorite, respecting adults.

Holwick’s biggest concern is safety and she provides multiple ways for the tots to learn about the consequences of their actions. Every year approximately 2.8 million children in the U.S. experience injuries from falling that require emergency care. She wants her students to learn safe ways to climb as well as the correct method of getting down from a difficult position.

“A typical toddler and preschool class involves a lot of listening skills,” said Holwick. “That’s actually our biggest safety skill on the wall and everywhere that we go. Listening skills are what’s really going to be the barrier between a safe day and a unsafe day.”

To achieve the tasks at hand and to motivate the toddlers, she brings along toys for the children to retrieve. She hides matchbox cars and trucks in the climbing holds along the wall for the toddlers to find as they climb up. As a reward, she brings books to read and musical instruments. Every week has a new theme to keep the toddlers on their toes and interested in rock climbing.

“My days are never boring, and they never repeat themselves especially when you’re talking about two year olds in climbing,” said Holwick. “There is never a dull moment.”

Students learn to follow directions by following the colored tape on the climbing wall and asking questions when needed. (Photo by Gabriella De Leon)

Students learn to follow directions by following the colored tape on the climbing wall and asking questions when needed. (Photo by Gabriella De Leon)

The idea for toddler rock climbing was born when Holwick realized that outdoor activities could be relaxing and useful for more than just adults. She first started Peanut Butter and Jellyfish as a swimming class; later she added yoga and finally rock climbing. In order to support her business, Holwick has taken a dramatic step.

One ‘Peanut Butter And Jellyfish’ mom talks about the class.

Two years ago Holwick left the comfort of her home for a new adventure.

“Something that people might not expect from me is that I actually live in a tent in the middle of the woods,” Holwick said.

Holwick’s move has allowed her to give all her resources to the program. Instead of paying for rent, she is able to buy more equipment for Peanut Butter and Jellyfish.

To hear more about Holwick’s tent-dwelling life, listen:

Underground Abortion: Lack of Access, Cost Spurs Clandestine Operation

By Jose Olivares

Abortion. It’s a topic few like to talk about, but one everyone has an opinion about. And when people do talk about it, merely sharing opinions can lead to heated debates.

There is only one clinic in Northern Nevada, and this clinic has persistent protesters holding large, graphic signs out front whenever it’s open. Planned Parenthood in Reno does not provide abortions, so anyone looking for this service is required to go to the clinic.

For those who won’t or can’t get there, or afford to go to the sole provider in town, there is another, very much illegal and underground option.

She goes by the name “Jane.” Jane performs underground, holistic and pill-based abortions. She has been providing abortions in Northern California and Northern Nevada for about four years.

Because of the illegal nature of her work, Jane wears a ski mask to protect her identity. She is holding a menstrual extraction kit, which she makes using commonly found supplies. (Photo by Jose Olivares)

Because of the illegal nature of her work, Jane wears a ski mask to protect her identity. She is holding a menstrual extraction kit, which she makes using commonly found supplies. (Photo by Jose Olivares)

The work she does is illegal. In fact, it’s a felony in the state of Nevada. We agreed not to publish recognizable photos of her and have distorted her voice.

“I provide holistic abortion provisions to people who otherwise may not be able to access it,” she says. “[Holistic abortions are] a combination of different procedures. I can provide herbal abortion care, medication only, as well as menstrual extraction and manual vacuum extraction. These are all things that I can do for people at home as opposed to a clinic.”

“Jane” explains the origin of her name.

Her Own Abortion

Jane began performing abortions after her own negative experience at the local clinic.

“I became pregnant after already having a live birth. I knew that I could barely take care of myself and my child,” Jane told us when we met recently in a secret location.

“So I ended up going to the clinic here in town and I had a really horrible experience — it was very cold and awful. It made me realize that there was something that needed to be done.”

Jane sought out and ended up meeting others who had secretly been providing people with at-home abortions and began to train under them. She charges very little and often times provides the service for free.

“When I do charge, it’s based on a sliding scale. I wouldn’t charge anybody more than $400, which is about half the cost of an abortion anywhere else,” she says.

On the mornings when the West End Women’s Medical Group, the only abortion clinic in Reno is open, protesters hold signs and pray in front of the clinic. The clinic responds by playing loud music and displaying its own pro-choice signs including “We are Pro-Choice” and “Guns don’t kill people. Radical Pro-Lifers kill people.” (Photo by Jose Olivares)

On the mornings when the West End Women’s Medical Group, the only abortion clinic in Reno is open, protesters hold signs and pray out front. The clinic responds by playing loud music and displaying its own signs including “We are Pro-Choice” and “Guns don’t kill people. Radical Pro-Lifers kill people.” (Photo by Jose Olivares)

A Sliding Scale of Abortion Costs

The West End Women’s Medical Group—the only legal abortion provider in Northern Nevada — charges a minimum of $700. According to the clinic, the price may go up to as much as $2,100, depending on how far along the pregnancy is.

The clinic accepts only cash payment: No checks, no money orders, no credit cards. Full payment must be made in cash prior to receiving the services. According to the clinic’s website, this is the only medical office in Reno certified by the National Abortion Federation.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 49 percent of U.S. abortion patients in 2014 had incomes below the federal poverty level.

The minimum wage in Nevada is $8.25 per hour. This means a minimum wage worker, working 40 hours per week would have to work two and a half weeks in order to pay for an abortion. With other necessary expenses taken into account (food, rent, insurance, etc.), this may prolong the amount of time a minimum wage worker may take to raise the funds for an abortion.

Free Abortions and Word of Mouth

Jane recognizes how expensive abortions can be. That’s why she sometimes provides her services for free.

“Sometimes I have to charge money for the people who I know can afford it,” she says. “And usually the people who can afford it have absolutely no problem paying for it. Because they know that a week later someone is going to contact me and not have any [money].”

The anonymous abortion provider meets her clients through mutual friends who know what she does. Word of mouth and trusted communication lead people to Jane.

“I typically serve around 10 to 20 people per month on average,” she says. “It’s definitely not as hefty of a load as any clinic for sure, but it definitely is a hefty load for just one person.”

(Photo by Jose Olivares)

(Photo by Jose Olivares)

Different Methods, From Herbs to Pills and Jars

Her methods are varied. She provides herbal abortions, which take the longest—up to two weeks. The patient will take a mixture of different herbs every two hours, in either a tea or in tincture form. She also provides the “abortion pill” Misoprostol, which is her most common method. She dispenses three doses of four pills. The pill stimulates contractions. The other method involves a device made from tubes, a jar and a syringe for suction called a menstrual extraction kit.

“Misoprostol-only abortion care is really only effective until about 12 to 13 weeks,” Jane says. “So I really don’t go beyond that.”

Jane gets the Misoprostol in bulk from others who have access to the drugs.

Safety Issues

When it comes to safety, Jane insists the equipment she uses is similar to the equipment used in legal clinics. She also says she provides post-abortion care.

“Post-abortion care is crucial to me,” Jane says. “Very often part of the reason people feel a lot of guilt, shame, and remorse around their abortion is because there really is nobody to talk to afterwards. They feel really alone and scared and to me post-abortion care is crucial.”

Underground Abortion Methods

Fear of Getting Caught

Jane is aware of the risks revolving around the work she does.

“My fear of legal repercussion is really strong. Jail, incarceration, prison, whatever — that isn’t really what scares me,” Jane says. “What really scares me is knowing that if I do get arrested for this, you know, my child wouldn’t have me around.”

Current Nevada law states only physicians can perform abortions. Illegal abortions are classified as Class B Felonies. In other words, abortion performed by a non-physician will be punished in the same manner as voluntary manslaughter.

Although remaining anonymous, Jane hopes to continue to add her voice to the national narrative around abortion. She is aware of the increasingly restrictive legislation being passed and the continuous closing of clinics around the country.

Asked if she feels courageous she responds: “To me it has nothing to do with courage. It has everything to do with knowing that there’s a need for the work that I do.”

“Like I said, if I’m not going to do it, then nobody else will. So I suppose where the courage really comes from is knowing that there are people out there that need this help and that they need somebody there for them.”