Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coming Out: I'm An Abortioneer

I've been doing this work for many years, but I'm still not at the place where I "out" myself as an Abortioneer to everyone in my life, all the time. And I'll admit: sometimes I feel guilty about not doing so. Sometimes I analyze myself, trying to figure out why I don't tell everyone; why I don't add certain people from my past on my Facebook; why I block access to my profile to even others on Facebook; why I don't just openly answer the question, "where do you work?" when anyone asks.

I'm proud to do this work. At the same time, I'm very aware there are some extreme "pro-life" freakazoids out there that feel so strongly about abortion, that they'd quite happily make sure we're (all Abortioneers) wiped off the face of the planet. I happen to live in a conservative place and I just don't know what I'm going to encounter at any point in time when I "come out." Still, I mostly have positive experiences when I say where I work. (Positive = no jeering or creepy stares like "I'm gonna get you" or big abortion debate.)

Recently, I spent time with a friend whom I've known for nearly 20 years. It became evident that I pretty much had only told him about the family planning and STI services at our clinic. When I was complaining about our protesters, he was incredibly confused. Certainly, throughout the 20 years of our friendship, I must've - somewhere - somehow actually TOLD him we did abortions! I HAD NOT! I was a bit mortified. (With myself.) So I came out. "We do abortions," I said. Not too shell shocked, he just said, "I thought you took care of infections here." I said we did and that was true. Slightly desperate, I asked, "Haven't I told you before? I've really never told you? Straight out?" Blank stare, "Nope." This friend and I had grown up in the same church, the same religion. I was a bit worried it might be the end of the road in our friendship, to be honest. Instead, as he sat in my office and eyed a sample Nuva Ring, he was just like,"Um. What's THAT?" So I explained. Then he saw our pretty basket which holds our abortion instruments to show women when telling them about the procedure. "What are those?" I explained. And I became keenly aware that Abortioneers' office spaces are *not* typical office spaces! Next, a barrage of abortion questions: how far along can you go; what's legal in the US; how is it done; how often do you do them; are you doing them right now; how many a week do you do? I was shocked. He wasn't mad. I think he's still my friend.

I know I just need to get over myself and be more open, generally, about my work, despite living in a conservative community. Or maybe I don't. I'm still not sure. I suspect I'm not the only person out there that sometimes experiences trepidation when outting themselves as an Abortioneer. Maybe you can share some of your thoughts, stories?


  1. You're an abortion debutante!

    I think your friend's reaction is interesting. Neither adamantly supportive nor righteously indignant, but keenly interested. I think this fairly common among men/people who don't think about abortion 24/7. They simply don't know how it goes. Hell, I didn't until I became an Abortioneer. I'm glad he asked questions and tried to become educated as opposed to being grossed out or judgmental or any of the other reactions that antis are wont to display.

  2. Thanks, Anti-Anti! I should say, though, that I haven't been doing abortion work for 20 years. I think it might've sounded like that in my post when I talked about the length of my friendship; but I did start this work about 17 years ago! (OMG. That's a long time! LOL)

    Yes, I was surprised by my friend's reaction. I expected jokes, or some kind of snide remark. I'm always shocked when someone asks me questions becaue they genuinely want to know the answers. That's actually only ever happened two other times to be before!

  3. I am an abortioneer (a relatively new one - I have only been working officially in abortion care for a year now, but I expect to be doing it for a long time) and I definitely relate to everything in your post. I always struggle with what to say I do when meeting someone for the first time, and I have it down to two options: I work at an abortion clinic, or I work in a women's health clinic. I hope that "women's health" is an understood euphemism, so that the person I'm speaking to can choose to either ask a follow-up question or leave it at that if they don't want to get into it, but I've started doubting that "women's health" is actually understood to mean "abortion care" all that often. When I'm with someone who I think is probably an ally I try to be as open as possible, though, and I tend to get very positive reactions including lots of questions, which I LOVE. It's always a struggle though, and always an unknown. Thanks so much for this post!

  4. Considering I am from a small, very conservative, very religious town where like clockwork the protestors are at Planned Parenthood on every "abortion" day, I understand your trepidation. And considering the crazies who would kill someone over what they consider "killing" another "life," I probably would feel EXACTLY the way you feel if I worked at a facility that provided abortions. I don't think you should feel bad for not outing yourself, but it is important to have the discussion of why or why not.

  5. No comment I make can give you any true insight into his reaction as I obviously don't know him, but if he didn't get any kind of upset I'd certainly take his curiosity as a positive thing.

    If it were me I'd want to ask all about it, but I'm insanely curious. I would probably like to watch the whole procedure as all such things fascinate me.

    BTW love your user name - & Penny Royalty too.

  6. Lily - I often say something similar to what you described. Sometimes, I feel brazen and come straight out and say it: "abortion." Why I get nervous sometimes, still, is a part of me I still have to work out, I suppose. Like you - being in a conservative place doesn't help. It is amazing how many more allies there are out there than what we think, though...

    Jen - thanks! And can totally relate to the conservative town and the protesters being out "every abortion day." :) Thanks for reading our blog!

    Violet - thank you. :) And yes, I do take his curiosity as a good thing.


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