Thursday, October 29, 2009

She said, she said

This weekend over coffee, a friend asked for my perspective as a provider about her friend's recent abortion experience. I was prepared for her to ask if pricing was fair (I don't know the market) or even if a second trimester abortion is safe (it is, for the love of god), but instead, she regaled me with a tale of a clinic visit so terrible that it made me question whether the woman was positive that she went to a legitimate clinic, and not a crisis pregnancy center.

The clinic wouldn't let her contact her driver for support, they described the fetal development to her, and then they refused to perform the abortion until an arbitrary date.* Granted, I heard the story third-hand, but that encapsulated account sounded like a nightmarish visit to an office that had no regard for choice nor for comfort nor empowerment. And yet, my gut reaction was to defend the monster of a clinic.

Providers are such unique allies in something that we don't even believe should be a fight. We weave compassion in with enforcing anti-choice laws we're bound by. It's medicine and social work all together, and then it's more than that. And so, giving the clinic the benefit of the doubt, I spouted off possible reasons the driver wasn't allowed to participate in the appointment (doctor and staff privacy), for the fetal growth talk (anti-choice legislation), and for the wait (yolk sac development). But for all I knew (and I acknowledged this), it could simply have been a bad seed clinic. They exist. And they make me want to shout at them for perpetuating every abortion stereotype we fight daily, for being nothing that abortioneers believe in. Providing an abortion is far from the only thing a clinic does.

And when I defended that clinic, I knew that I was diminishing the patient's experience. I am a patient advocate for the abortion experience, and that doesn't stop at patients who come to my clinic. Maybe I was 100% correct in my devil's advocate assumptions, but if those facts were never made clear to the patient, if she left feeling vulnerable and untrusted, the clinic wasn't doing its job. It's incredibly difficult for me to say that because it's not what I want to believe, but the next patient at that facility could be my best friend or my sister or my cousin's girlfriend.

It was the first time I had been faced with having to "choose sides" like that after three years of abortion work. And the friend was actually an acquaintance I was still getting to know, so it was the first time I acknowledged to a relative stranger (and maybe to myself) that abortion providers aren't always good guys. In the end, she nodded in sincere understanding at my defensive assumptions, and she took my email address to offer to her friend if she needed support or information. And here I am, still navigating support and information, walking the line as an advocate for my profession and for our patients.

*Some details have been changed in order to protect privacy.

Desemarazarme's comments policy, adapted from Daughter of Wands: Desembarazarme will not be publishing negative comments, manipulative questions or generally scary shit, pro- or anti-choice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MOTA: Mates Of The Abortioneers

We've had a couple posts here about the romantic lives of abortioneers -- the frustration when a first date turns into a debate, the anxiety of meeting anti-abortion in-laws, and just how weird it can be when people introduce you as "Abortion Girl" to their friends at the bar. If there were a blog for Mates Of The Abortioneers, it would have an even smaller audience than this blog does. Not that we aren't plenty lovable!

I think about these things and often conclude that if I separated from my partner, I'd probably remain single for a long time, because meeting someone who is fun, caring, smart, feminist, anti-racist, and pro-choice and who's a foodie and who doesn't care that I'm always running late* (etc etc) can take a long time, and I'd much rather be single than settle for less. I'm OK with that. But I've been in a happy relationship for quite a while, so all of this is a little bit abstract for me personally.

Anyway the point is, I wanted to write a post about having an abortioneer-supportive mate, but didn't really know where to start. We ended up doing an "interview" for me to share with you all. (And as you can see, the third-person-interviewer voice broke down pretty quickly.) Hope you enjoy it.

Placenta Sandwich: How long have you been dating Placenta Sandwich?

5 years. She wasn't an abortioneer when we met, although she was decidedly pro-choice. As she moved into that role, it moved being pro-choice from the abstract to a part of day-to-day life.

PS: What is your favorite abortion-prevention policy?

Dry humping?

PS: Ha. List five good things about dating an abortioneer.

1. Knowing that my partner is involved in an important struggle for equality and freedom for everybody.
2. The vicarious sense of self-righteousness.
3. Going to kickass abortioneer parties and hanging out with other cool abortioneers.
4. Getting the inside scoop on an issue that superficially has two sides to it and seeing that in fact I'm on the side with absolute moral clarity.
5. Knocking allegedly pro-choice family members off their guard by using the title abortioneer.

PS: Wait, you call me an "abortioneer" to your family?

Yep. Sometimes I describe you as the Michael Jackson of abortion.

What? No you don't!

I definitely have done that.

Oh no.

Wait, I meant Michael Jordan.

Oh... OK then. What did you mean by "allegedly pro-choice" family members?

Well, I have a lot of relatives who would identify as pro-choice but still want to seem centrist, so they'll moderate that position by opposing a straw man -- like, "I'm pro-choice but I don't think you should be able to have an abortion in the third trimester," or I've gotten the vibe from some of them that I'm too cavalier about what you do -- like they're OK with it but think it's a distasteful line of work.

Like it's something that people shouldn't feel comfortable talking about even if it's ok for them to do?


PS: OK, list five bad things about dating an abortioneer.

1. Having to worry about the safety and wellbeing of my life partner because of the work she's doing.
2. Waking up early to drive her to the clinic.

PS: You haven't done that in a really long time.

Oh yeah. It was still really early though!
3. Feeling inadequate next to a partner pursuing something so important to them.
4. The unfortunate lack of enough badass pro-choice mates to form a sufficiently large chapter of MOTA in many cities.
5. Passing out during "The Coat Hanger Project" while I was trying to pee.

PS: What?

Remember, I was watching it and the doctor was saying how women would try to do their own abortions and I tried to head to the bathroom but I got dizzy?

But you made it sound like you were peeing and watching the movie at the same time.

I don't think this is a very good interview.

PS: Fine. What do you think of my office happy hours?

They are awesome and fun, once you get over the complaining about the office, and once you're comfortable with the amount of time spent discussing the topic of the vagina...It's like being in an episode of Cheers, or the Golden Girls. But with abortion.

PS: What are you trying to say?

Idunno, it's like, you're funny, and you're all classic a sitcom. But with abortion. Actually that would be a really good idea, a sitcom!

PS: Are you just hamming for the interviewer?

[silence]...Ask another question.

PS:OK, I have a semi-serious question. Does my job ever create a feeling of isolation for you, the same way some abortioneers say it isolates them?

In my private life, no, because I don't have many friends -- probably less than five -- who are anti-abortion or even on the fence. And with my family, I kind of expect that if there's a problem, it's theirs. At work I do feel like I need to feel people out before I open up about something that we feel so strongly about. I don't really feel like I could talk about our relationship without bringing up choice. It's like, if you were dating Bob Vila and some people were offended by construction, you'd probably have a hard time talking about your significant other with them.

You're being silly!

I should rephrase. I do talk about it without talking about choice -- if a stranger asks what you do, I say you help people access health services they need -- which is completely true. But if I haven't determined whether or not someone is pro-choice, and I'm leaving your specific occupation out of the conversation, it's like we're not talking about the real you, because it's such a big part of your identity.

PS: Are you saying I'd be different if I stopped abortioneering?

I think that's a chicken-and-egg question. You weren't an abortioneer when we started dating, but you were socially conscious and wanted to make a difference, and as that carried into this field you got more adamant about it and settled into this role. The two things feed into one another. But I guess maybe if not abortion then it might have been something else, but with the same motivations and fervor.

PS: Nffff. Did you fart?

*ETA: I found out after publishing this post that my partner does, in fact, care that I'm always late, but loves me anyway. Sweet!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A means to an end

Abortion, abortion, abortion
Pregnant pause
I’m pregnant.
I can’t help but think about pregnancy.
Why, because it happens, because it is, it is what is life, it is what is happening, really it is what happens.
Typically the only option is not really optional because
the grass is always greener on
the other side.
Abortion is what is. It is not why, but because.
Abortion is not war it is the product of war.
War on my body, war on my soul.
War on my sisters' bodies, black bodies, really all bodies.
But sometimes the wounds run a little, or a lot, deeper when your body is black.
Or brown, or any color but white.
It's really safe and rather painless or painful for some.
It's not the reason for pain but a result of pain.

Recently, I met with a professor. Let me begin by saying this woman is an amazing professor. Of all the things I learned in 17 + years of schooling, I tend to refer to nuances she taught me rather often. She is objective and smart and saw potential in people. She also challenged people. Of all the teachers I had in college I wanted to have lunch with her before leaving my college town. I emailed her and said something like:

Hi Amazing Professor,
I am still here in collegetown and working in abortionland. However, I will soon be relocating back home and I would like to know if you will be a reference for me?

When she responded stating she would be my reference I asked if we could have lunch. So, we scheduled lunch and she made turkey sandwiches. She packed us a wonderful lunch full of little goodies that really only a mom might think of. We showed pictures of babies we love, and I told her about another student who now has 2 children, one of whom is my godchild.

Eventually, she brought up my work; she proceeded to tell me that she is against abortion. She said that when students comes to her stating they need an abortion, she tells them that she does not agree with abortion and whatever choice they make they should speak to a counselor so that it does not haunt them in 10 years. She was the most objective anti I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to. I don’t think abortion haunts women 10 years later, maybe a woman every once in a while, but no, most women have had a few more pregnancies to contend with in the course of 10 years.

She followed up her self-identification as an anti by stating she just wished we lived in a world where women didn’t feel they needed abortion.

I don't really think this kind of utopia is possible. Even if it were, don't you think something so seemingly perfect probably isn’t perfect at all?

Abortion is not a means. It’s an end.

Monday, October 26, 2009


As soon as I heard about it, I anticipated last Friday's episode of Law and Order entitled "Dignity". This episode was a supposed recreation of Dr Tiller's murder. I was curious about how it would be depicted. I know many people think it's too soon, but I understand that is the nature of the way this show works. They use "fresh" news stories.

It started out true enough with an abortion provider being shot in his church. Of course there were the overly dramatic effects of a tv show - the doctor carrying a concealed weapon (scenes of him checking his piece as Sunday service begins), the distraight wife weeping on the church steps about how she pleaded with her husband to stop providing abortions. There was also the anti-abortion rhetroic (I guess to be expected) throughout - the police officer who asserts his opinons over the doctor's staff and his partner while investigating the crime, and the two prosecutors who try (or don't try) to put their personal feelings aside while prosecuting a crime.

After watching this, twice, I knew I wanted the Abortioneers to say something about this episode, but I personally struggled with what exactly to say. This show was far from balanced and really straddled the borders of reality. As my roommate put it, it was anti porn. Besides the blatant anti-choice views throughout the epsiode, there was a blasphemous account of a doctor that would accidentally deliver a live fetus and offer to "finish" the procedure. It is heinous to insinuate that this would happen and that Dr. Tiller had ever done this. Regardless of what the writers and producers of Law and Order might say, this episode was clearly depicting him, so I think they were trying to suggest a good doctor like Dr. Tiller might have done something like this. I won't even get into the courtroom scenes, but it didn't get any better.

I'm not sure what frustrated me more. That the information in the episode was so false and dramatized or that the episode was more about a debate on abortion than on someone's murder. It's disheartening to see this episode only 5 months after Dr. Tiller was gunned down in his church and to see what a callous take the show decided to have.

Whether you agree with abortion or not, you must realize women will have abortions, and they need safe medical care when doing so. Abortion providers and all clinic staff provide a much needed medical service to women and risk their safety while doing so. These people are heroes and deserve a lot more respect than this tv show gives them.

This blog post from RH Reality Check says it better than I ever could.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Citizen Ruth

I watched Citizen Ruth for the first time while riding on a bus to the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC in 2005. I have anxiously been waiting for a You Tube savvy someone to feel as akin to this scene as I did and do.

This film is a remarkably sharp film at times—highlighting the importance of what every Abortioneer knows: To each her own.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I’m pro-choice but…I’m pro-choice but…I’m pro-choice

There are several incredible and ongoing reasons why we call ourselves The Abortioneers.

Primarily: This is a blog about providing abortion.

We recognize we’re telling our secrets to the Worldwide Web. (We also recognize where you’re coming from.)

Everyone is welcome to their experiences and beliefs regarding abortion but this is not an open forum where all sides have equal footing or there is common ground to be found. We don’t believe that women who feel traumatized by abortion are actually traumatized by abortion more so than by living in a society where there is no room for them to air their entire truth.

We wish we could make it better but the anti-abortion monster truck engine makes it nearly impossible. We're making advancements for women's health care like molasses.

We don’t think shallow, snide comments and lousy prayers save a thing. We’d suggest haters walk a mile in our shoes but we’d never hire them and we will not worship Jesus Christ in unison until he needs an abortion.

Note: Even Abortioneers sometimes have exceptional gripes. The Daughter of Wands will not be publishing negative comments, manipulative questions or virtual punches in the face of any kind.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I am pro-choice. But I am not very good at it.

The ultimate pro-choice position, contrary to what antis may believe, is simply that the outcome of a pregnancy is up to the woman. Whether or not her oven will bake the proverbial bun is her choice. I think that’s great. Though I will admit that my personal biases regarding what constitutes a healthy, happy, and safe environment for a child to grow up in sometimes puts me in a non-choicey mood. It puts me in a straight abortiony mood.

Example: Young Woman gets pregnant. She’s not terribly young (19? 20?), is physically able to safely carry a pregnancy to term, and is emotionally secure enough to decide whether or not to become a mother. Let’s say Young Woman is in her second or third year of college. She is doing well, has high hopes of becoming the first in her family to achieve a post-secondary degree, but damn-it-all, she ends up pregnant. And she’s keeping it.

My response: ???

Now, I do believe that Young Woman is perfectly capable of raising children, and even of doing so on her own. Hell, my mom’s a single mom too. And I do believe that with financial and emotional support from Young Woman’s family, which she very well may have, her baby can certainly grow up in a loving environment. Why then, does it drive me nuts for a woman to end her education, or at least postpone it, because of a pregnancy? I’ve personally seen enough Young Women leave school never to return. I’ve spoken to hundreds of Young Women who want nothing more than to finish school, but can’t because they have no way to pay for abortions. They break down in tears. I have such a hard time correlating young motherhood with success and independence. Can Young Women have both? If they can, why are so many unable to achieve them? Whenever I see this happen, I can’t help but lose my pro-choice bearings and think to myself “why couldn’t you have had an abortion?” This is terrible! Who am I to question a woman’s personal choice? An anti?!

Maybe my picture of a “successful” family is waaaaay off. Or maybe it’s just my personal standard that I need to keep to myself. More likely the latter. Maybe it’s also because my stake in other people’s pregnancies is so little that I can look at them in this disconnected and even judgmental way. If my sister had dropped everything to have a baby, would I feel the same way? Or would I start knitting some booties because I’m Auntie Anti-Anti (say that five times fast!)?

As a human being, like the antis, I have much to learn. I have many experiences to experience, and many parts of my mind to open up. So I appreciate the input and wisdom of my fellow Abortioneers who help me daily in this pursuit. Ready for action!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

News Flash

News Flash: The antis are talking about us and our blog has had an exponential rise in anti-abortion traffic. With that, has come an increase in anti-abortion comments; some of which have appeared to be intelligent, others just hateful.

As Anti-Anti and Vulva Flower stated in the last two posts, we are happy to have open, genuine discussions with self-proclaimed “pro-life” individuals who have no intent of “trickery” or debate. Those people do exist. Some have been our clients! (We all have heard many, many women say, just before their abortions, “I don’t believe in abortion” only to be followed with, “but in my situation…”) We welcome the rare opportunity to have dialogue with individuals like that.

What’s not okay: antis stalking our blog, taking our words out of context, twisting our work, and bringing yucky negativity our way. This is our haven. Our safe place. We Abortioneers always have to defend ourselves, our work. Shit, many of us even defend ourselves to loved ones. Some lose friendships. Raise your hand if you’ve been de-friended after “coming out” as an Abortioneer on Facebook after Tiller’s murder. Yeah. I thought so. Most of you!

This increase in muddying-up our blog is annoying at best. I might seem like a coward, but it’s also made me think I should edit myself; like I'm going to have to be careful of what I say so it's not taken out of context, so I can "protect" our field, so I don't dishonor our clients. It makes me uncomfortable I feel this way. I just wish the antis would leave us the fuck alone. We don’t need to be hassled by people who don’t care about the women we serve and won’t EVER get it. Their rhetoric and picking is a violation. How dare they come here? How dare they think it’s okay to tread on our feet? To dishonour the women we serve? To disrespect the compassion, the love, the angst that we feel doing this special life-work. (No pun intended.)

I mean what I said: life-work. Abortion work IS life-work. Hell, if any group of people truly are pro-life, it’s the pro-choicers! We’re all about the life of the living woman and helping to empower, ensure that that she can move forward, doing the best she can with what she’s got right now. So how dare anyone try to minimize her experience! How dare anyone try to take that away from her! Really. Who the hell do you think you are?!

This blog is for not just us who write here. It’s for all of you who do this work. We know how isolating and hard it can be. We know that when you go home, it’s challenging to tell your partner/friends/parents/pet/whatever about your day, because they just.won’ We know it’s not a normal job. And we know that the only thing that keeps us going sometimes is the warm, kind smile from a woman who ever-so-gently says, “thank you.” Ohhhh, does that hit the spot. Warm milk in the belly, that is. Warm milk in the belly. Just a simple, little thank you.

Think about that last “thank you” you got. Are you smiling now? Remembering what that genuine “thanks” feels like, right? Let’s end on that note then. Because seriously: that is all that matters. That’s why we’re here. And, to all you out there in Abortionland: thank you. Thank you. Thank you. What a profound, beautiful difference you make. Thank you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a note

To our readers,

We have been keeping something from you. It’s true. But once we explain ourselves, I don’t think you’ll be mad at us.

Along with your beautiful, thoughtful comments, we also receive hateful, psychotic, nonsensical comments from those that oppose a woman’s right to choose or so vehemently support it. They range from radical anti-choice to radical pro-choice. Within our Abortioneers blog community, we have gone back and forth between posting these comments for our general audience and reserving them for our eyes only.

In the end, we have decided the following, although this is subject to change:

· We will block comments that are threatening, insulting, scathing, angry, religiously or politically charged, or otherwise counterproductive to the purpose of the blog, which is for information and sharing.

· We will allow comments that respectfully disagree, ask questions non-rhetorical in nature and allow for thoughtful discourse, may refer to anti resources that are academic in nature, or present personal views without generalizing.

So if you don’t like these policies….well, frankly, we don’t care. This blog is for people in the direct abortion service profession, those that live and breathe this work every day and need an outlet, a safe place.

It’s not for the antis. It’s not for the old angry man with an enlarging prostate who would like to see nothing more than women forced into a pregnancy and lose all control of their body and rights. It’s not for other people in the medical profession who clearly put their own beliefs selfishly in front of their patients’. It’s not for the pro-choicer who thinks violence should be answered with violence. It’s not for the CPC fanatic who promises to help you raise your baby if you don’t get that abortion, but leaves you only with a bag of pampers and a “good luck” nod.

If you want a good argument about whether or not women deserve a choice when it comes to their reproductive health care, you can go somewhere else. This is not the venue.

But to the antis out there, who feel so compelled to continue your hate filled/non-productive/thoughtless comments, please do. We usually end up talking amongst ourselves of their ridiculous nature and having a good laugh, which only brings us closer and reminds us of why we love our work. So thanks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Time of Day

I caved. I did something I very rarely do, or even enjoy doing. I read an anti blog.

Just a bit!

Now, unlike many of the trolls who haunt The Abortioneers, I have no interest in upsetting myself by indulging for no particular reason in anti beliefs that I oppose. I don’t have time for that! But, as The Abortioneers have recently experienced an increase in anti traffic, I decided to have a look-see in search of intellectual or original thought. I do, in fact, believe that pro- and anti-choice folks alike can learn from each other; I’m sure no minds would change, but I’m not opposed to alternative perspectives every once in a while. Much to my surprise, I came across a number of fair questions and observations that served as a kind of respite from the tired anti jargon and hackneyed turns of phrase. In this post, I will address those musings that I found to be truly thought-provoking and inspired by a genuine desire to learn and engage in dialogue. Just a few to begin with:

1. What about sex-selective abortion?

An abortion is considered “sex-selective” if the primary reason for termination concerns the sex of the fetus; upon determination of sex in the second trimester, the mother decides that she would rather have a baby of the opposite sex and terminates the current pregnancy. This practice is not so common in the Western world, in which (relatively) equal social status is conferred upon both sexes. Certain Asian countries, however, have experienced substantial imbalances in birth rates of boys and girls, largely in favor of boys, due to sex selection. While we may scoff at this from our cushy sofas, it is critical to consider the contexts in which sex selection occurs. Take China as an example. The one-child policy, like it or leave it, prohibits most women from bearing more than one child. Each pregnancy really has to count for a family. Imagine! There is an intense amount of political pressure to get it right the first time, and because males are generally favored in education and employment, it is not surprising that many couples would abort a female pregnancy and try for a male the next time around. Again, imagine! Imagine the degree of inadequacy that many women must feel in a society in which whatever assets she has in life, no matter how sufficient, could be far surpassed by her son. The self-loathing and internalized inferiority of women who would sooner have ten abortions than a daughter. As a woman myself, I can’t picture my future without a little girl in it. But on the other side of the world, millions of women feel exactly the opposite. Often times, there is little to be done.

Sex-selective abortions are usually sociocultural phenomena, and I think it’s important to check the ethnocentrism when thinking about it. You may hear of handfuls of anecdotal sex selection cases in the U.S., but these are certainly not the norm. If anyone believes that this is a pervasive problem in our society, they may just be reacting to hearsay. Even in countries where sex selection is prevalent, like India, women’s rights groups have rallied against this practice, arguing that it undermines women’s societal value and intentionally dilutes the female population. Additionally, China’s one-child policy is and has been under scrutiny by human rights groups. Overall, I would not argue that sex selection is something that women strive for. It’s not like rolling dice until you get snake eyes; it’s a serious issue, particularly since elective abortion is often not available in the second trimester. Sex selection is, by and large, a product of inveterate cultural institutions that value men over women. It’s not an institution to be demonized so much as one to be understood and reconciled with human rights issues.

I can cite a number of interesting PEER-REVIEWED articles on the subject if anyone is interested. Hell, I'll even provide full text.

2. What kind of normal person would perform second trimester abortions?

None. Abortion docs, first tri or late term, are anything but normal. They are forerunners, they are fighters, they are feminists, they are fearless, they are few-and-far-between, they are lots of other things that begin with the letter f (alliteration not intended – really!). Above all, they are friends. Friends of women who need their help. Regardless of whether or not you consider abortions helpful, patients of abortion doctors do. And to these women, their providers are not normal people. They are heroes! Which leads me to my final topic…

3. You think abortion helps people, but maybe it hurts them too.


Beg pardon?

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.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I was reading a while ago and stumbled upon this article. I actually find articles like this kind of funny -- well, funny and annoying. I believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion, and in this case some of th opinions are pretty heated because abortion is such a volatile issue. I understand that, and I can live with people disagreeing with me on this issue. I don't even know if I'm all that bothered by the fact that they disagree with me. In this case, it's the judgment that pisses me off. Because, in this case, antis don't just think abortion is wrong, but they judge people who are pro-choice, and they really judge the women who have abortions.

It's funny to me how someone can make a judgment about whether something is right or wrong, not really knowing anything about it, until they have to go through it themselves. I don't know how many women I have talked to that tell me they never believed in abortion until they were faced with an unwanted pregnancy themselves. There are also the women who tell me throughout the process how wrong it is, for someone else that is, but their situation is different.

I wonder of the women polled for this article, how many of them will be faced with an unwanted pregnancy in the future and will choose abortion. Will they be happy that thanks to legal abortion in this country, they were able to access safe medical care? Will they be happy they didn't have to resort to trying to cause an abortion themselves, like women did pre-Roe? Or will they get their safe abortion, and then go back out and demonize abortion, and the doctors and staff who helped them?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still here, with fresh reads!

Don't worry, we haven't been kidnapped by the protesters! Your regularly-scheduled bloggers will be back by this afternoon. In the meantime, I wanted to share two more "going through it myself" blogs we found recently. Hopefully more women sharing their experiences will mean more women finding support and truth when they need it. It kills me that all of the blogs like this start with "I looked for info and couldn't find anything except weepy bullshit, or scare-tactic stuff, or ulta-medical stuff."

My Abortion and Related Incidents

I'm Really Having an Abortion? (I wish I could give this blogger a psychic message or something, it sounds like she's beating herself up and it makes me sad.)

If you're looking for similar blogs, please check out the list of blogs on the right side of our main page.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

This past Sunday I was celebrating 100 days in the life of my dear friend's first child, Rainbow, on the west coast.

While not an Abortioneer, my dear friend is overwhelmingly supportive of and curious about me and the work that I do. She is sensitive, empathetic and intelligent. She is married to a kind, patient and jolly man and she is studying to become a practitioner of traditionally Eastern, preventative medicine. She and her partner choose to live their lives consciously and intentionally. We connect, and always have, on incredibly potent and meaningful levels.

I specify her background because many people understand that there are several types of friends in life and many Abortioneers understand that several types of friends receive the nature of our profession in several different ways.

I anticipated meeting Rainbow throughout her mother's gestation, her family's preparation and over the weeks following her birth. I knew I would meet her when September concluded and autumn crested. As the time grew close, I imagined myself succumbing to a weepy, joyful celebration when she was first nestled in my arms.

You see, at my day job, people call me a baby killer, and in fact, I do feel like I assist in terminating potential life almost every day. Despite my unwavering passion and vocal support of abortion, I do not ask those I know and love to discuss the more visceral aspects of my career.

During my most personal and sacred moments, I acknowledge that it is no wonder that I cannot attract a life-long mate, and fear I’ll fail to ever procreate, when I meddle in death daily. If a woman is most naturally desirable when she ovulates, I perpetually skirt around resounding beauty. Potential that never is. The anti-womb in the wombiest sense.

When my discussions regarding abortion with non-Abortioneers turn toward the frightfully unsettling images of dead, darling babies, I know that it is no wonder that the conversations abruptly end because images of dead, darling babies only redeem themselves when you know their stories.

Despite the clear gap that exists between the stark reality and the bigger picture of abortion and our disease with contemplating the steps between, my unconditional friend tasked ME with baby duty as the family prepared for Rainbow's feast at the park amongst the wailing and unlikely Pacific winds.

There was a full moon and I was celebrating 100 days in the life of my dear friend's baby by holding her wee body tightly--her soft, bowling-ball bundle: the crevices of her marshmallow joints—ankles, knees, wrists, arms, neck–the palms of my hands sprawling her ripe, doughy vertebrae from her head to her tailbone.

She pulled down my bun with her bitty fists, identified my cheeks, nose, mouth and eyes with the pads of her miniature fingertips. We bounced and swayed around the park and watched the leaves soar. I embraced the most precious newborn I know, found peace in life’s most anticipated and simple moments. We hugged for a good hour. Her face snuggled firmly against my heart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Be Powerful!

It's hump day. And as hump days go, it seems appropriate to add a fun little video made by NARAL's Free.Will.Power website dedicated to empowering teens about sexuality, sex, birth control, adoption and abortion. I happen to love this video, called "Power" and there are two others as well.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shop Talk

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.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of My Heart Palpitations

So, I recently got a boyfriend. Squee!

My boyfriend, like most boyfriends, has a mom. Unlike most moms, she used to be a nun. I mean straight up walking-around-in-a-habit nun. Unsurprisingly, she is very pro-life. Very. Pro-life. Anti-Choice as I like to call 'em.

I am slated to meet this lady next weekend. Yes. Awkward. So so awkward. I have already played out how this will go 10,000 times in my head.

Scenario 1:
Boyfriend: Mom, this is Mr. Banana Grabber.
Mr. Banana Grabber: Hi! It's really nice to meet you!
Nun Mom: So, where do you work, Mr. Banana Grabber?
Mr. Banana Grabber: Um... I work at a non-profit that focuses on women's issues.
Nun Mom: Oh?? What's the name of it?
Mr. Banana Grabber: Um...
Nun Mom: *silent judgement*

Scenario 2:
Boyfriend: Mom, this is Mr. Banana Grabber.
Mr. Banana Grabber: Hi! It's really nice to meet you!
Nun Mom: So, where do you work, Mr. Banana Grabber?
Mr. Banana Grabber: Um... I help low-income women get abortions.
Nun Mom:

Scenario 3:
Boyfriend: Mom, this is Mr. Banana Grabber.
Mr. Banana Grabber: Hi! It's really nice to meet you!
Nun Mom: So, where do you work, Mr. Banana Grabber?
Mr. Banana Grabber: Um... I'm a cashier.
Nun Mom: *silent judgement*

So I am pretty stressed about this. I mean, I refuse to lie about my job or make something up. That isn't an option. It's strange though because I am definitely feeling the need to play the whole thing down. But the fact I am even considering doing that makes me feel all sorts of weird. Am I a bad Abortioneer for wanting to do that? I am not sure how to best handle it. What do you guys think?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Totally Awesome Multimedia Friday

"A romantic comedy about an unplanned pregnancy, an abortion, and a great first date in an unlikely location."

I found this via our Twitter feed -- maybe it was through Pandagon? -- well, can't remember now, but really need to share it around.

You know how Juno was cute and indie and all, and had people talking about real feelings and all that, except there was the weird unrealistic part about a kid deciding to go through pregnancy, labor and an adoption process like it's no big thing?

And you know how Knocked Up probably had no redeeming characteristics AND had the extra kick in the nuts of making boy and girl get together for life over a decision to carry to term a pregnancy that should never have happened? Like, "well this is the parent of my future-child so I guess I'd better get used to seeing his face every morning"? What is up with that?

Over time, these movies and many others have led me to several disappointed conclusions, namely:
  • Even though you'd like to see some cute hipsters AND some funny lines AND an honest take on the question of whether to have an abortion, two out of three is the best you'll ever get.
  • When you're a movie character, you always have to make decisions that don't make any sense, or else it's not a comedy.
  • If you get pregnant, the guy whose sperm's involved will stick around IF you lock him in by producing a real live baby. Well also, sometimes you produce the baby but he doesn't stick around. Idunno, men are confusing, but anyway the main thing is you produce a baby, OK?
  • If you DON'T have a baby, it's gonna be morose, trust me. Whether there's a miscarriage or an abortion, the critics will likely use the phrase "a sobering drama."
  • Anyway, you can't have a movie ABOUT an unintended pregnancy that ends in abortion, because most abortions are pretty uneventful and over quickly, so the story would be not that exciting and it would never make feature-film length.

Well, most of those beliefs were shattered Wednesday night when I found this video I want to share with you. The only myth still standing is #5, because this doesn't break the half-hour mark. But I can forgive it. The acting and the lighting are just a tad awkward in a few places, but it really picks up around the drum/dance part and I was left completely charmed. It's got humor and a good heart and wonderfully captures some possible major alternatives to the tiny narrative box where we've imprisoned abortion, in both film and cultural psychology (I guess) at large, and it's nice to have even one portrayal like this, you know? Thank you Gillian Robespierre, Jenny Slate, and everyone else involved in making this excellent mini-movie.

Obvious Child from Gillian Robespierre on Vimeo.

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.