Sunday, December 27, 2009

Every Time a Bell Rings...

I worked with a young woman about a year ago that I found myself thinking about over the holidays, hoping she was okay. Let's call her Sarah.

Sarah was 20. She already had a two year old daughter. They were living with her mother, who was addicted to crack. Her only other family member in a 500 mile radius was her uncle, who was also addicted to crack. Her father and brother had passed away. I didn't probe into how/why they died because that didn't seem right. Anyway, she was raped and found herself pregnant.

Sarah wasn't too far along, and needed to get a couple hundred dollars together to be seen. Even though she was unemployed and living off of food stamps, she was able to get the funds needed together by pawning a few items and borrowing money from friends she had in the area.

The morning of her procedure, she called me in tears. Her mother had stolen her money from her purse and used the money to buy crack. So Sarah was not going to be getting her abortion today and we were back to square one in terms of trying to find some money for her.

I just remember feeling my heart sink in my chest because I knew she had worked so hard and pretty much exhausted all her resources the first time around.

So I encouraged her not to give up hope and that we could keep working on this, maybe I could call some local funds, some national funds, etc. We talked about her living situation, about her mother's addiction. Sarah cried and cried saying she felt horrible her daughter had to grow up in a house with a drug user and how she wanted to get out but she had nowhere to go. I gave her some numbers for shelters in her area. There were only two unfortunately, but it was at least a start.

Then she dropped off the map. I tried calling her many times, but her number had been disconnected. I wasn't sure what had happened but I was obviously concerned. When I can't reach her on the only number I have, though, there isn't much more I can do.

Sarah calls me back five or six weeks later. She had been trying to get money together, trying to get into a shelter, trying to take care of her daughter, trying to find food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She had been able to cobble together a very small amount of money. Sadly, the shelters were full and the cost of her procedure had gone up dramatically. She didn't even have 10% of what she needed to get seen. I called every fund I could think of and I was able to get $200. Most every fund I called was out of money and they wished they could help, but they couldn't. We were still way off what we needed and it seemed like we were pretty much out of luck.

The next morning, Sarah calls me crying. Her mother had stolen her money again. Sarah had followed my advice and kept her money on her body at all times. She had hidden the money in her pajamas and her mother waited until she was asleep and stole her daughter's money off her body while was she was sleeping.

I told Sarah we still had the money from the fund, we could try to work something out and she said yes yes ok. She was going to keep working on it.

Then she dropped off the map again. I never heard back from her. Ever again.

She never got her abortion to my knowledge, but I am not sure.

I find myself wondering from time to time about Sarah and her daughter. I hope she is okay and I hope she was able to get out of her living situation. I hope she was able to get her wings.


  1. Sighs, you never forget those ones. I've got at least two names that are burned into my memory. Poor girls.

  2. As a volunteer for an abortion fund, I know how incredibly difficult it is to have to turn women away at the end of the year when resources are often completely depleted (and to listen to the women on the other end of the phone in tears, telling their stories, hearing the sound of resignation and listening to a baby's cries in the background.) Sigh.

    Now is as good a time as any to post the reminder I'm peppering everywhere: donate to an abortion fund. Your $20 and my $20 and your friend's $20 will add up to help a woman who REALLY needs it. Go to the National Network of Abortion Funds website and click on DONATE.

  3. I just found this site from FaceBook. You have motivated me and my wife to get involved. WE terminated a pregnancy a couple of years ago, and were treated badly by these christian wackos protesting. My wife and I make good money with good benefits, and I wonder what are situation would have been had we not had the $400. Not much to us, but a fortune compared to the kid you referenced. Thanks for what you do. Bob Rodriguez, Sachse Texas


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.