Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Her Body, Her Life

Working in an abortion clinic is a job, but its also more than a job. In my job I have to answer questions for women about their bodies and personal lives. I believe that my roll is to give them as much information as I can in the short interaction we have. Women need to control their bodies and life decisions in order to control their lives. There is a great book that most of us feminist, abortioneering womyn already own and love but its worth recommending here called Our bodies, Ourselves.

The clinic I work in only does abortion into the very early second trimester. There are many reasons we can't do procedures farther including the availability of doctors who will do the procedures. The state I live in is also quite conservative in regards to abortion and attempts to pass and enforce anti-abortion legislation almost on an anual basis.

We often get call from women much farther along in their pregnancy. I try to make sure to give women as much information as possible when the clinic I work in does not offer the services she needs. I recognize that I operate as a gatekeeper who has information that people need. I often hear co-workers act as though women should not get abortions beyond 16-18 weeks. The same people make a judgement of women who have multiple abortions. I wish that every single person working in abortion care understood that our job is about making sure women know they can decide what to do with their bodies for themselves regardless of any one elses personal views.

The other day I had a 17 year old express her wish to keep her pregnancy so I wrote gave her information regarding seeking medical care and advised her to take care of herself and her body. I also spoke to a woman in her third trimester and informed her of the safe haven laws. Dozens of times a week a woman will ask me"so, whats better the surgery and the pill?" Now, personally I think if I need an abortion I would get a surgical abortion over a medical(pill). However, when I answer this question at work or even among friends, I explain its about a personal preference and offer a few reasons someone might prefer each type of procedure.

This work is about abortion, but abortion is about reproduction and women's lives. When women have control of our lives our families are strong and so are our communities.

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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.