Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Vulva Flower's post yesterday was timely for me and I've thought quite a bit about the article she shared. I know that our blog is specifically for those of us who do direct service work. We want to be able to be honest and share our feelings/love/frustration/admiration for the work we do. For the work you do, too.
Sometimes this can be a little scary because we (Me? The abortion movement? You, maybe?) get worried at times that what we say can be taken out of context and twisted to suit a twisted person's view. The author of the article that VF posted yesterday, suggests that this actually can create further silence, isolation and stigma about abortion. It can be hard when we feel, even within Abortionland, that it is uncomfortable to talk about the uncomfortable bits of our work.
I agree with the author, however, that if we can't, as abortioneers, have candid discussions (at least in our workspace, at least within our field), then we may feel more isolated in an already isolated Abortionland world. Case in point: I have a colleague who is brilliant at her job. She loves it. She's clever and works her ass off. She'll do lots of different jobs, but just don't ask her to do pathology. She's simply not okay with it. She's totally fine watching abortions/assisting the provider. She's fine counseling or making appointments. Just don't have her look at path. Don't ask her to touch it. Our provider recently said he was unsure whether this individual could exhibit real leadership qualities in a clinical setting and not do pathology. I'm not sure I agree. She's pro-choice and she cares about this work; she's just honest about where her limits are. Does that mean she can't progress further?
The author of the article suggested research should be done on providers' perspectives on second trimester abortion; I think it could be super useful to do research on not just clinicians' perspectives, but all abortioneers' perspectives on abortion in general (not just second tris). Wouldn't it be nice if healthcare assistants and counselors and phone receptionists and staff who scrub instruments could go to big annual meetings (like NAF?) and discuss, candidly, what it takes to do this work?
I just hired a bunch of new staff. I was worried I'd scare them off by telling them about all the security yuckiness that coincides with Abortionland. I worried they wouldn't want to come work for us and I wasn't sure how upfront I wanted to be about how it can be challenging dealing with doing this work. I've since learned it's better to be totally honest and candid so as to face the facts head on (and to scare off early the people who are going to get scared off the first time they get a bomb threat).
...It's the same thing, really, I think, that the author was saying. Talk. Honestly. And listen, too. Without the fear that our discomfort makes us less pro-choice, less of a flaming abortioneer, less of an employee; I mean, I get there's a bit of a fine line here. Personal discomfort levels can't affect the care of women seeking abortions or the ability to do your job. I get that. Totally. At the same time, sometimes it's a continuum, based on experience, and we have to be able to talk about it.