Thursday, July 30, 2009

Army of None

A spirit inspired by romantic notions of honor, a kind of morality founded on the fashion of the age, can only be felt by a few officers, whilst the main body must be moved by command, like the waves of the sea; for the strong wind of authority pushes the crowd of subalterns forward, they scarcely know or care why, with headlong fury. (Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)

I am a volunteer abortion case manager for a local, grassroots organization. I am not a social worker but I case-manage for social workers’ clients if they need an abortion. I am not a funding case-manager because not having money doesn’t make it go away either. I am not an abortion provider because the termination inspiration I provide will not unimpregnate you.

Perhaps, you too, feel my plight. I take calls at the crack of dawn, on lunch hours, right in the middle of analyzing data for my paid job, allllll night long. Instead of happy hours, I arrange guaranteed hours of madness where I am unequivocally available to direct you to your optimal abortion experience—based exactly on how much money you have. Or don’t have.

I settle myself in a quiet corner, in the park, down the empty aisle in the grocery store, outside the restaurant. I rattle off the logistics of access to abortion over and over and over again until I find myself comfortably numb, taking meditated breaths in the Nth hour, struggling to assertively describe Step 244* in obtaining an abortion if you’re dirt poor.

I engage in intensive conversations with women who have been raped and beaten, who are homeless and starving and pregnant, and when the telephone conversation is over, I often picture my concerned and compassionate clients either balking at my crazy-making antics and *recommendations* or slitting their throats—lest they attempt to get an abortion in this sometimes downright wretched, free country. Then I realize we itemized everything she owns and she doesn’t even have a dull knife.

I am not unusual. I am not original. I am not noble. I am imperfect and often harbor several instances of doubt with every case. I’m carrying a torch. I am one of many (though not nearly enough) humans who find it strange that our society does not invest infinite value in listening to the gatekeepers of this species here on earth, same society that relishes headlines and cover stories about post partum psychosis and neglectful, abusive, sociopathic, murderous husbands, same society that gets all icky inside when addressing abortion.

I could say I volunteer because the work is necessary, meaningful and rewarding in terms of my ideals and goals in this lifetime, because the connections to women in my community are priceless and their needs should so clearly not be ignored, because the bonds I share with my fellow Abortioneers are precious, because the madness that accompanies secondary trauma sometimes alchemizes into brilliance, sharp wit, transcendence.

But I volunteer because I have to. No, no, no. This is not self-righteous, secondary trauma exercising itself through my ego—this is a sad truth. While everyone else is still outside lighting sparklers for Obama in-between attempts to stimulate the white bred economy, you and I are trying to help women get in touch with the national funds and the national funds seem to be diminishing right before our very uteri.

What if there was no money for abortions? What if the government and tax payers did not fund core reproductive health care ever and the valiant national funds that seemed to hint at socialized abortion care all shut down because it was just too much—because funding abortion care is unsustainable for any one patriarch who wishes to also stay a patriarch? 

Only one thing is certain to me today but today is only today and yesterday I was billowing into my pillow about something else terrible like raped women and lonely teens and apathetic men and wanted, degenerate pregnancies...

Dear national fundszzz (you know exactly who you are),

Thank you.

But abortion case-managing is NOT re-creating systems where women can’t get through.

*Step 244: Say abortion 3 times and then turn around in front of the mirror as fast as you can with your eyes closed 3 times while patting the top of your head and rubbing your belly


  1. Re: National fund practices: My case-managing mentor/expert of sorts recently asked me: Do you think you can do it better?

    My definitive answer: NO! But >WE< can!

  2. With raised fists but little experience, I agree. Luckily I work at a clinic in which we don't deny abortion services to women who do not have enough money.

    Most apply for aid though, and many are subscribers to government-run assiatance programs (which should encourage participation, but in my opinion often dehumanize underprivileged people).


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.