Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Abortion Girl

Sometimes, when my friends are introducing me to people, I am described as "the abortion girl." Or, if I meet someone, and then see them again at a bar a few weeks later, they remember me as "that abortion lady." That is the one fact a person can recall about me. Not my name, that we both love Hoegaarden, the fact we both love that episode of It's Always Sunny when Charlie and Dennis sing "Day Man," but that I am the Abortion Girl.

I am the Abortion Girl.

This is further complicated when I meet a new person I don't know at all. The go-to question in this situation is usually of the "What's your major" variety: "So... what do you do?" Talking about work is generally a very safe topic when meeting people, so it always, always, always comes up.

"Well... I uh..." and in my head the following script plays: Is this person liberal? Or, is this person Karl Rove disguised as a moderately attractive 27 year-old man in a t-shirt with the Five Alive logo?

Trying to crack the code based on where they work, or what their friends' political views are doesn't really even matter either, because abortion is a cross-political party issue. A Liberal can be "liberal," but not pro-choice. Republicans are mostly pro-life, but sometimes they are pro-choice. You can't tell. And obviously, the last thing I want to do on Saturday night is start up some huge ethical debate over abortion.

Usually, I just end up saying something pretty vague. "I work with low-income women." Sometimes, I say "I help low-income women get abortions." Interestingly, some of my friends actually pulled me aside and were like, "Hey you gotta tone that down, you know sometime you are gonna really piss someone off and they might hurt you." My initial reaction was "PSSHH If people wanna get in my face I ain't really carin'." But the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became. What if I do unwittingly make some drunk dude totally enraged? I think the chances of that happening are relatively minor, but still. The fact is, I spend A LOT of time in Abortion Land and in my free time I like to take the train out of town, to places like Beer City and Funtimes, USA. Not places like Debate An Issue You Are Not Going To Change My Mind On City, or You Are Now Deeply Offended And Acting Weird Township.

And then, on top of all that, there is dating.

Dating the Abortion Girl. In my experience, it is pretty difficult trying to date generally, so when you throw an uber-controversial issue into the mix, it only complicates matters further. Could I go out on a date with a boy if I don't know his views on abortion? Sure! But what if he is really into the pro-life agenda and I find this out mid-date? That would kinda suck. Could I go out with a guy if he doesn't know what I do for living? I don't really feel comfortable doing that. My work, if you are pro-life, is probably going to really upset you or at least bother you on some level. And if you are pro-life, it is likely going to be a major issue if not a dealbreaker for me.*

Obviously, I consider the annoyance totally worth it, but it is a frustrating aspect of being an Abortioneer. Previously, I hated talking about work because my jobs in the past were really boring and pretty much stupid.** Now, I love talking about my job, but I never really know if it's "safe" to bring it up when it comes up in conversation. :-/

*DISCLAIMER: I would definitely date a pro-life guy that had really logical well thought out beliefs that made sense to me. I don't know if that guy exists, but I don't cross someone off my list based on that alone. Just sayin'.
**I used to edit test booklets for a state's department of ed. It. Was. Terrible.


  1. Yes. I know what you mean. How do you handle this conversation politely? Anyone have any ideas?

  2. If someone really insists on talking about it and they seem conservative, I try to spin it on the other cool things clinics do, like offer birth control and post-ab counseling.

  3. I have a tiered allowance system: first, I work at a reproductive health non-profit. Then, I work at a women's health clinic. Then, I help women afford basic healthcare. If you wish to speak between the lines of those obvious skirts then I am a pro-abortion advocate because I see that abortion helps society.

    If someone looks kind, thoughtful or moved when I say this, we keep talking. If they look confused, I change the subject completely and obviously. If they get angry, annoyed or ignorant, I cry and then pray...

  4. elisabeth i love that. i guess i have a similar tactic though not quite as consciously -- maybe we all do? so the "not quite as consciously" has led to a couple of unfortunate deviations from the programs: i.e., i misjudged someone, or forgot myself, and jumped right into the fire. whoops.

  5. Great blog. You should try being the "Abortion Guy" sometime. It's even harder I think. You get the controversy element, mixed with the "why?" element. I'm a male nurse at an abortion clinic, btw. I've been involved at abortion clinics in various roles since I was 16.

  6. Ryan, you sound pretty awesome. Maybe you can gather up other abortion guys and start a dating service.

    Still avoiding the "A" word with my guy's Catholic fam. His sister, concerning a pregnant friend:

    "Well, at least she's not gonna kill this one [rolls eyes]."


  7. yessssssssssssssssssss an abortion guy dating service for abortion girls sounds like heaven on earth for me

  8. amen sister! I would always promise myself I wouldn't bring up the abortion issue on a first date...but alas, always would.

    On the first date with my partner now of 4 years, I asked if he was pro-choice or pro-life like 15 minutes into the date (while we were in the car)...he said pro-life. WHAT?!?

    "Oh, I mean pro-choice...sorry." And the rest is history...

  9. I was always, always up front about it. Of course, now that I've lost my job at the clinic I don't get to be anymore, but.

    Generally I would just say the name of the clinic in a matter-of-fact, or even enthusiastic tone, and if they wanted to bring it there, they would. If they didn't, we'd move on. I find that if you're upfront and not ashamed-sounding of it, most people won't make an issue of it. If you just name your clinic, most people will know what it is, and then the onus is on them to pursue it, positively or negatively.


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.