Thursday, February 11, 2010


Sometimes, I think about other lines of work I could go into. I think about it not because I'm irreparably damaged by the alleged horrors of my work (sorry, anti-choicers, I'm not), but because of the meager income I make at the clinic--I hover just above the poverty line, as do most of my colleagues. (sorry again, anti-choicers who think we're in it for the money and it's all about the Benjamins).

And other lines of work appeal to me a little bit, but none as much as abortion does. Abortion is so much more than a surgical procedure, more than choice, and more than feminism. It's about domestic violence and helping women come up with plans to leave their abusers after they end their unwanted pregnancies. It's about building up a child again after incest brought her to the clinic before she even entered her teenage years. It's about collecting irrefutable DNA evidence after a rape that WILL be prosecuted.

We see classism in healthcare and try to even the playing field in our particular brand of healthcare. We know why it's called reproductive justice rather than pro-choice because we've seen the disparities and barriers women of color face. We find funding and build trust with homeless women and we work to connect with the privileged, upper-class white woman who flippantly says, "I can't believe all these women are having abortions! I wish they wouldn't use it for birth control. My situation is different."

We've seen demographic data--it's not just heterosexual women having abortions, but queer women who also need a choice or who got pregnant through donor insemination, then were faced with fetal anomalies. For every macho man who's bored with having to spend his day at a clinic, we've seen men cry and express fear.

We know women who drive H2s have abortions, but so do women who have been exposed to environmental toxins that affect a pregnancy in terrible ways. We meet women who need D&Cs because of demanding work environments that caused them to miscarry.

We know how mental illness works. We come up with plans of care for women who deal with depression and anxiety, we evaluate and alter treatment, language, and protocol for women who are developmentally disabled. When we talk about post-abortion coping, we also talk about emotional, binge eating or exercise and restricting food, as well as body image and body autonomy.

As I wrote in my last post, we see undocumented immigrants who can't believe abortion is legal in this country they've adopted that hasn't fully adopted them. We also see women in the military who forgo this pregnancy so they can serve their country, proudly or bitterly.

We've met women who are staunchly childfree and women who need to be able to care for their large families by not adding to them. We see tired women who thought they were safely and squarely in menopause as well as teenagers who thought they couldn't get pregnant the first time they had sex.

And all of these diverse women are the reasons I don't mind buying thrifted clothes, driving an aged car, and living simply. Their experiences and their willingness to share them with me make me better, and that sure isn't near-poverty to me.


  1. Damn you are good. We are not the monsters these anti choice religious zealots paint us out to be. As a counselor with an MS in Counseling, I can hear the empathy in your writing, the connection with people, and the client centeredness of what you do and who you are. . .something these religious types who oppose gay and lesbian adoption but will not adopt themselves (I guess abondonment by christians is better than love and care from same sex couples) will never understand.

  2. Dear coblogger -- have I told you I love you?? My plan for Monday's blog was a similar topic -- our income, such as it is -- but this is the best answer ever to my yet-unwritten thoughts. Thank you!

  3. This post also made me think of this other post:

  4. Thank you for your work. People like you helped me 20 years ago. Now, so many years later, I appreciate it even more. You saved my life. My deepest gratitude.

  5. Thanks for this! I've been struggling with some similar questions lately, and it was really reassuring to read such an insightful post.


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