Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mad, pro-choice props

Abortion providers are heroes, clinic workers are brave, and abortion support services (Holla, NAF, Exhale, and Guttmacher) are amazing. I know I, as a clinic worker, can't get enough of this praise, especially since I receive an equal amount of condemnation. And sometimes, I can't help but envy those who are only tangentially related to the abortion world--How nice to have the luxury of being able to say, "I work as a systems administrator,"and leave it at that, to have the option of tacking on, " an abortion clinic" to suit my audience.

But then again, how terrible to devote 40ish hours a week to an organization that you believe in, where you still face protesters just because of the building you're walking into (antis don't care that all you see are servers, never clients), and receive none of the praise or support. I sometimes purposely make myself a face of the pro-choice movement, so that we're not all faceless bitches or anonymous heroes (depending on the audience), but I don't always use my position to shine the spotlight on the stage crew, the tireless behind-the-scenes workers.

So today, I want to thank the sys admins who keep the scheduling software running, who protect the network from HIPAA-ignorant hackers. Thank you to the maintenance crew and custodial staff for knowing what kind of clinic you're caring for, and doing it anyway, and doing it proudly. Thank you the insurance billing staff for bringing money back to the clinics and keeping us going, and for advocating for clients so that they can triumph over the HMOs. Thank you to the accounting department for giving us an income, no matter how small. Thank you to the publicists and the fundraisers for tracking down the allies. Thank you to the security staff for protecting us from the foes. Thank you to the drug reps for the coffee and the birth control samples for clients who otherwise, wouldn't be able to afford contraception, and thanks for the pens and other swag, while it lasted. Thank you to friends and family of abortion providers for listening and tolerating our unconventional work stories (always HIPAA-compliant). Thank you for the suppliers--we make sure you're pro-choice, even if all you're doing is delivering packages, and we appreciate being able to trust you.

And thank you to the most often forgotten group, the clients. Thank you for coming to us when you're in crisis, for trusting us with your bodies and your choices. Thank you for being kind and for being feisty--sometimes, when you're feisty, that's the only way I know you'll be OK. Thank you for exercising your right to choose, even if it isn't a political act for you. Thank you for teaching me some of the most important lessons of my life. Thank you for empowering yourselves and taking care of yourself and your family, whatever choice you make. (And that includes the women who come back and show us the babies they decided to have at the last minute. It happens, and we love it, because it's a CHOICE.)


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.