I’m graduating from graduate school in three weeks. When I applied to my public health program almost three years ago I wrote my personal statement about my abortion clinic. I will be starting a part-time public health doctoral program in the Fall and I also wrote my personal statement for this application about abortion. Yet, the full time job I have accepted is working with persons living with HIV/AIDS. There were a lot of factors that went into my decision to accept an ostensibly non-reproductive health job. I did not make the decision quickly or lightly, but I still feel some sadness that I won’t be working day-to-day in reproductive health and specifically abortion. I know a job is not necessarily a lifetime commitment, but I do envision staying somewhere for awhile. I can also pursue whatever I want in my doctoral program and dissertation, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Part of me thinks I was a fraud on my personal statements for going on and on about how I wanted to learn skills and gain knowledge to improve this field. But, how could I have known when I applied where I would end up three years later?
Then I think back to the times when I was a full-time paid abortioneer. I worked at a non-profit clinic usually 50 hours a week and even during my time off I was immersed in abortion (rallies, volunteer positions, fielding phone calls from staff, baking fetus cookies, etc). Frankly, I got burned out. It was too much. When I moved up here for school I started abortion patient hosting as a way to stay connected, but not too connected. I get to compartmentalize my abortioneering and host when it works with my schedule. These last few months I have held an internship on a teen pregnancy prevention program which has brought me back to the field I love, but I sit in an office and plan evaluations and interventions. There is little talk of laminaria, or medical abortions, or LMPs, or even fetus jokes.
Every time I get a call from our patient hosting coordinator I smile, knowing I get to head to an abortion clinic and pick up a woman and essentially “do my thing”. I love entering the clinic…I love feeling a part of it all. I love how connected the staff are, and that knowledge that every day you leave work you significantly helped someone change their life. I remember one weekend I spent 2 days at a clinic waiting for a woman who traveled alone from Canada. The clinic had undergone some renovations and their heat was not working properly and it was January. I huddled on the floor with my laptop and books and photocopies of readings for class and I couldn’t have been happier to be studying there. I was in a room surrounded by strangers yet I felt so at home.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get back into the abortion clinic as an employee. There aren’t many jobs for people with advanced degrees outside of healthcare workers. My new employer does have a clinic for our HIV/AIDS clients and I’m hoping I can grow to love it as much as I love my abortion clinics.