Sunday, April 26, 2009

Termination counseling 101

What do I do when I disagree with a woman’s reasons for choosing an abortion?

Funny you should ask: This does not happen to me. I don’t and can’t see why anyone would ever doubt a woman who did not wish to grow life inside of her body, to raise that child in this world.

I think I do what I do—I can’t be entirely sure—because I can easily find a woman where she is when she’s in an abortion clinic. I can’t do this for others or myself always in the rest of my life, but when I sit down to talk about pregnancy termination, I can take whatever comes from her and ask a woman to admire herself for what I hear she is doing.

I would say it’s a thing inside my blood but it’s not. It’s a spirit thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not tooting my saintly horn—sometimes I don’t like the woman. But, let’s be honest: in those cases shouldn’t I agree with her even more?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Reproduction is sacred.

Moon cycles are sacred, they are not a curse.

The ability to bear children is sacred.

The choice to bear children is a sacred choice that should be faced with courage and good intentions.

13 weeks pregnant with a baby she wants, facing felony charges.

6 weeks pregnant, sad, knowing this is not the path she meant to take, unsure of what to do, medical seems easier to swallow, literally

11 years old, threw up this morning and her panties are bloody, She got to stay home from school, and the women around her will celebrate her first step into womanhood.

Thank God for reproduction.

Thank God for choices.

Oops, you're a psycho

One beautiful Fall afternoon in 2006, an anti confronted me and demanded that I "pick on someone my own size" as she attempted to stuff pamphlets in my clenched fist.

She was a large woman, in both height and girth. Larger, in fact, than I. The irony was overwhelming.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You Fight Me, I Fight For You

I was fortunate enough to go to an excellent college. I transplanted myself from my co-ed high school in the southwest to an all women’s college in the northeast.

Now this grand education I had opened my eyes to the idea of women’s equality, women’s power, and women’s control over their bodies. Admittedly, I did not become interested in reproductive rights until this school or until that women’s studies course. And thank heavens for these introductions, for who would I be without them?

After college, I moved into the city before graduate school and volunteered at the local Planned Parenthood as a clinic escort. I essentially helped women and their partners get into the clinic safely and successfully amidst the sometimes hostile crowd. To me, reproductive choice was a right protected by the law and protected by me. The protestors would say horrific things to women to get them to change their minds, to get them to turn around and leave the clinic. They took a women’s personal, difficult choice and turned it into a street mockery and shouting match. Those women’s faces I escorted into the building are burned in my mind. I could see the fear and I could feel it. But they had a choice-a choice for their bodies and their future. A choice. What did these protestors want of these women? An unwanted child? An unsafe, back alley abortion? Not the right to make decisions over their own body.

One morning of escorting, a new protestor emerged. She was known to the staff at Planned Parenthood, but not to me. She was slightly older than me, brown hair that touched the back of her thighs, and a loud, intimidating voice. She would bring anti-choice literature with her every Saturday and stand less than a foot away from escorts, reading her rhetoric. Mind you, we were trained not to engage with the protestors, but damn it was difficult. Our objective was getting the patients into the clinic. However, this particular protestor was hard to ignore. She would follow you around, reading into your ear with her booming voice.
It was one day that she announced she went to a well known all women’s college, the same college I had attended just under a year ago. I, of course, never told her I was also a graduate of said institution-that would only bring unwanted attention to our battle ground. It was such a disappointing moment, though. I credit this institution for my reproductive health awakening, my fierce advocacy and activism, and my desire to always protect a women’s reproductive freedom. And this woman, my “sister,” credited the same institution for her anti-choice motives. How could we have come from the same place and have such different views?

I think about that woman from time to time. Not all women view choice as an absolute right-even her with such a liberal, mind-awakening education. The realization I came too is that regardless of what she thinks or what she protests against, I fight for her reproductive rights as well. I cannot pick and choose which women I stand with and which I stand against. All women have a beautiful, divine choice over their bodies and their reproduction, all women. And I will fight for that choice as long as it takes, even if some women will fight against me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

All for One

I am a woman. I am presumably fertile. As are you. And you. And especially her. She's even had an abortion before. How unfortunate.

Some women don't get pregnant. They pray and wail and envy the ability to conceive that others so regret. One woman's trash, another's treasure. How unfortunate.

And yet, these women on opposite ends of the have something very much in common; the desire to be in control and the inability to do so. A woman's woe indeed.

So they play God to get what they want. Impede her own fertility. Take somebody else's. Both cost lots of money and are completely unnatural but damn, doesn't it feel good to get what you want out of (or into, as the case may be) your body. Take that, will of God. She's got bigger plans.

We women all want different things, but all to the same end: to get whatever it is we want however we can. And isn't that what women are good at? Chasing things and wrestling them to the ground and keeping a souvenir so we can point to it later and say "Yeah, I did that"?

Just a thought.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I wrote this a while ago and kept it in a place where only my closest friends could see it. Because I felt ashamed and because there was no right place to make something like this public. But this, among other things, is what this blog is for. So now in the interest of being really honest, I will share the story of failing to help someone, and the privilege of going to bed with my life un-fucked afterward.


Friday turned out to be maybe my worst day in abortionland, ever. I was working with a woman who was traveling out of state to have an abortion, and she ran into problems at every turn (money, escort, gestational age, new escort, clinic staff, money again), and each time she and I would pull things together and get her out of her bind, and then at the last minute, just short of me being able to do anything to fix it, she got fucked over one last time. And now she needs to start getting prenatal care, because in a few months she is going to have twins.

Yes, I know there are a lot of reasons she was not able to have that abortion. I know that I couldn't have known, before all this stuff happened, how badly she needed me to break the rules for her, how badly things would go if we complied with the logic that a client should try all the most affordable options first, and waste precious time in the process. There are a lot of ways to absolve myself of all of this, none of them completely honest. Everyone is telling me these things: it wasn't your fault that x, y, z happened; you couldn't have known what would go wrong; you can't do everything for every client; you succeed at helping people more times than you fail.

All these people are both right and wrong. These are things that people in the social-service fields tell ourselves because we need to justify putting away the client files after a day of failures, and we need a reason to open them up again in the morning. They are true things to say, but they are also not enough sometimes. Around 7 I collected myself, left my office with a couple of colleagues, and proceeded to get drunk, meet up with several more people, have a fun and noisy time, and stumble into bed at several o'clock in the morning. Then I woke up and it was Saturday and I thought about the rest of my weekend and how Monday was after that and then I suddenly couldn't bear the thought of going back to work.

And Monday I did go to work, and I couldn't bear being there. I heard myself being a horrible person every time I picked up a patient's call, slumped low in my chair, thought about how soon I could drop this gig. Couldn't humor my coworker who makes terrible jokes that I usually laugh at. So I arranged to take the day off today. And my partner called in sick to stay home and take care of me: because I need taking care of, like I am sick or something. We spent all day in bed then went out to get a book my partner wanted, and now I'm making an apple pie. I know I am really lucky to be able to give myself a vacation for fucking up. Where me fucking up means a woman's life will be changed forever; she is barely getting by with just her own mouth to feed, and now she will have three. How do I reconcile these things and go back to my work?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

To have and to hold or to not stick around to see the never-ending

Reason number two a woman is having an abortion: unreliable partner.

These days, for me, exemplify rarely anything short of distant men.  Men who have gone inside themselves, or somewhere completely away.  Men who were never there to begin with. Sometimes I wonder if I ever could have done something else.

Chosen a different career.

The great new-age, theorizing men who trip and adventure and write, will suggest we find ourselves within ourselves, the world, move-on in all things—ourselves, autonomous, personally thriving, hopeful for even more life to explore on other planets. Children are the world’s children. We can only evolve our matter, mater, make ourselves light. They are men. They overwhelming generally take the kids for a day?

What if I don’t get a lover until more lovers accompany their lovers to the abortion clinic. Instead of chronically dwelling in lone one-time loverville where the women are pregnant and off or on.  Oh.

Men who oppress. Yesterday: Mom and nineteen-year-old daughter. Devout Christian mother asks me how a virgin gets pregnant. She doesn’t. I look directly into the young woman’s eyes. Say, rarely sexual foreplay leads to ejaculation close enough to create pregnancy. Her eyes. That’s not it. Say, pregnancy can occur when a woman is sexually assaulted or raped. Her eyes well. She says, I think. I was drinking and I just can’t remember after the bathroom.  We speak of time-released inebriation, the need for a buddy, to never go alone with a new man under the influence and then, most importantly, the definition of date-rape. Finally, impaired judgement does not excuse assault, no-way, no-how, never. I see an immense shadow lift from this young girl, another deep and winding shadow settling in.

What if Virginity was every time a man and woman faced one another sober and respectful and the man said, yes  and the woman said, yes and they made love or whatever with all intentions of thriving on their own for one another?

Men who leave. Yesterday: Two friends have sex and she gets pregnant and he never wanted the baby or to pay for an abortion. So he doesn’t. Same man has two kids he takes every once in a while, delights for a day, then retracts to go hunting or something gamey like shooting wolves or marbles or loaded semen.

Children are the world’s children. But what about being made of certain pieces of two by two by two beings?

Men who love. Yesterday: Lovers. Thank goodness. The last patient has a lover. He asks questions. She asks questions. They openly agree to try new things. We laugh and get sentimental. They pay cash--half and half. She has an abortion. I finish my day. I exit to a bright, fresh sun. The lover is awaiting his lover outside the recovery-room door and calls, Thank you, Daughter, waving and gracious. Thank you, too, I call. For loving your girl.