Thursday, February 24, 2011

Full disclosure?

As a rule, I don't keep my status as an abortioneer a secret. I mean, my identity as an Abortioneer blogger is a secret, but as someone in the abortion field, I am out and proud. I've never had an abortion so I can't talk freely about that to erase the stigma, but I sure can talk about my job as a way to show that people who are pro-choice (or super-duper pro-choice) aren't the devil incarnate. The only times I can recall not disclosing my line of work were when the person I was talking to was wearing an "It's a child, not a choice T-shirt" (in that case, I ran away) or when I was at a party and starving and wanted to focus on my chips and dip rather than talk about the job where I'd been all day. I mean, I have my limits.

So, I've introduced myself to a group by saying, "I'm [Desembarazarme], I like to run, I paint in my spare time, and I work at an abortion clinic." I've told the woman in line at the grocery store, "I work at [abortion clinic name]. What do you do?" It's seamless and matter-of-act because that's how it is for me.

But during one of my standard introductions recently, I had the thought that my attitude might not be serving everyone. It occurred to me that the woman sitting next to me at the dinner party might be pro-choice, but she might be processing her own recent abortion. The older woman in the vintage NOW shirt might seem to me like an ally, but she might be an ally because her friend died in a pre-Roe abortion, and no matter how gleefully pro-choice I am, she might not need that reminder of abortion right here, right now. And even though I can be fairly certain that the college-aged super-liberal guy who's a barista at my neighborhood coffee shop isn't pregnant, that doesn't mean that his girlfriend isn't and that he isn't faced with a tough decision himself, and he's just at work in order to escape it for a minute.

My realizations made me worry that my very presence and my willingness to talk, talk, talk about abortion might backfire. They might make the wrong people consider the wrong things when I'm not meeting them where they are. In my haste to say, "Look at what pro-choice can be!", I forget what else pro-choice can be. It can be sad and personal and delicate. And I never want to serve as a reminder of that. I want to be a resource and shoulder to cry on and an empowering friend, but I don't want to be the face of what people deal with in their own time.

And I don't have answers to this unique situation I'm in. I want to be who I am, but not at the expense of those who are trying to be who they are in a more gray area. I've looked at life from both sides now.


  1. This hits close to home for me; I've been working for a year now in a clinic that performs early abortions and I'm *still* trying to figure out my comfort level as far as disclosure, and figure out how to work the comfort level of others into that equation. I feel like it's such a fine line between too much/too little disclosure, and I don't want to betray myself, my job, OR the sensitive personal experiences of the people around me; I learn more about how to navigate this line all the time, but I think it will always continue to be a learning experience for me, and I love that you posted this. I know I'm not alone in what I do for work, and in being loud and proud about it, but knowing that I'm not the only one who struggles with whether loud and proud is always the best approach is a comfort.

    Thanks for this post.


  2. This is an interesting post, but I think you're being a little self-flagellating. Yes, of course there might be someone at some point for whom hearing about your abortioneer status recalls a difficult memory or reminds them of something they don't want to think about right then. But what are you going to do? The benefits of breaking the silence around abortion and speaking up as often as possible about what we do far outweigh the risks of those possible occurrences. I'd be willing to bet that most people who have had or are undergoing an experience with abortion take some amount of comfort in hearing it be normalized. Let's not forget that the kinds of things most people are hearing about abortion day-to-day far from normalize it - and are easily more triggering and difficult to hear than the fact that you work in abortion care!!

    We can never be the perfect face of abortion. We can't meet every person we encounter exactly where they need us to. Sometimes we will get it wrong. We have to accept that. All we can do is the best we can do. And in my opinion, the best we can do means speaking out about abortion and coming out as an abortioneer as often as possible.

  3. you’ve got great elements there and I do like how you encourage the readers to take the time to think. I'm greatful that I passed by your blog. Thanks for posting.

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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.