Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

I can't think of anything to write, and I don't really want to write.  Yesterday, an old friend of mine sent me a Facebook message saying something along the lines of, "I think this healthcare debate is what's going to finally overturn Roe, and I'm so sorry.  But we won't give up!"  Later on, I got my weekly mass email from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, saying essentially the same thing (plus a request for money that I don't have).  When abortion coverage entered into the healthcare discussion, I stopped paying attention.  It's the first issue I've really managed to ignore, and I've followed politics since I was 5 and I was rooting for Dukakis.  I've ignored it because I'm so defeated and discouraged by a world who doesn't understand the necessity of a woman's right to choose.  If I paid attention, I would still get up and go to work at the clinic 40+ hours a week, I would still connect with women, I would still hold my head high as I passed the protesters, and I would also be angry and sad and out of control and the parts of me that give in to those feelings are parts that can't help the clients.  It's self-preservation.  

I bought a book at a used bookstore recently.  It's a compilation of Anna Quindlen essays, copyright 1994 (I wish that link showed the cover with the photo of Anna overwhelmed by her blazer's shoulder pads), and it had a huge portion devoted to essays on abortion rights, so how could I not snatch (heh) it up?  I read the whole thing that night, and I felt worse--essays written 15 years ago could have been written yesterday.  What have we accomplished?  Why do I keep doing this work?

Today, I don't want to write about positive abortion experiences.  Selfishly, I wish clients would write about their positive abortion experiences.  I wish the 1/3 of American women who have had an abortion (and the corresponding 1/3 of men involved) would enter the healthcare controversy and write about why it's important.  I'm tired of doing it.  I never realized that the high school mythology class I took would prepare me for abortion work, but it did:  That myth about Sisyphus is about me. 


  1. When I was visiting my grandmother in the hospital, that Anna Quindlen book was in the waiting room. As I was surrounded by Fox News and other characteristics of my anti-choice midwestern community, I found the book to be very comforting. Both my grandma and mother suggested I take it with me.

  2. But where can we write? As part of the provider side of the equation you can be villified as cold and removed but where are the women who have gone through the experience allowed to stand? Our crdibility is stripped (three-fold for being women, having abortions, and being vocal). There is no divide. There is no support from a community at large.

    I can't speak for 1/3 of all women but I can speak for myself. I appreciate that you (all of you) take the time to speak from a position of relative power.

    And I am going to try to find a place for my voice. I promise.

  3. Soclose, thanks for asking. If you'd like to share your story online, consider checking out the following: (link at the bottom)

    As you can see from this list (in addition to the handful of "I'm having an abortion" blogs on our blogroll to the right, documentaries like "The Abortion Diaries" and "I Had An Abortion", the anthology "Abortion and Life", and the play "The Abortion Monologues")...there ARE women willing to share their experience with this very private matter, and we'll appreciate their help forever. I just wish that it were perfectly OK to tell your church members or your coworkers "Hey, I had an abortion" when they say cruel things about abortion patients or providers, the same way you might say "Hey, I have a special-needs sibling" or "Hey, I went to a state school"...or whatever. Experience should trump ignorance!

    *ahem* anyway. You can also become a contributor at RHRealityCheck or Feministing and post on topics of your own choosing, including this one. Or hmmm, I wonder if any congressperson has ever received a constituent's abortion story?


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.