Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane weather report

So my large metropolitan city just got hit by a hurricane…well I think we did. Maybe it was just a big storm? I’m still not really sure. What I do know is that the city shut down for almost two days, which included public transit, stores, restaurants, and most importantly, outpatient medical facilities.

At work on Friday many of my co-workers seemed excited about the prospect of a forced weekend holed up in their apartments. They would get to clear their TIVO, lounge on the couch drinking wine, and just have a general good ole’ time with this “situation”. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also excited to be on lock down for a few days, after all I had loads of reading to do for the start of my doctoral program. However, Friday afternoon I was listening to case managers call our clients to prep them for the storm and it got me thinking. The staff were instructing clients on what supplies to procure (flashlights, batteries, food, water) where/when to stock up on food (many of our clients rely on my agency for their daily meals), and how to get their daily medications (for those who receive directly observed therapy). In my head I started to think about what other health services would not be available for two days…and yes, you know where I’m going with this.

When Hurricane Katrina hit I was working in the South at an abortion clinic. I remember hearing stories through our networks of women desperately trying to find an abortion clinic after they were evacuated because the hurricane caused them to miss their appointment. Or some were even just trying to locate emergency contraception, sometimes after being sexually assaulted in the aftermath of Katrina. I envisioned all this happening again this past weekend and my heart went out to all the women who were told their appointments would be cancelled.

For a woman who finally gets the money together, the transportation, the childcare, the determination…what happens when she is then told the clinic will be closed? Or the buses aren’t running? I know that we have no control over the weather, but it just adds one more barrier. At my clinic when there were a few times we were forced to close due to circumstances beyond our control, we would “freeze” the fee for women so that they did not have to pay the extra money it would cost them to wait a week. That is one thing clinics can do, but what about women who have reached the limit of what is legal in their state? What happens to them? My heart breaks for any woman who tried to get an abortion this past weekend and will now have to carry to term. I wonder if they see this Hurricane as a sign that they were not meant to abort? For those who are not past the legal limit, how do you “do it all over again” the next week and find the time/money/transportation/childcare/determination???? I am exhausted and sad just thinking about it.

Have any of you who work in clinics dealt with these issues?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

State Mandated Information

I live in a state where there is a state mandated 24 hour waiting period. In addition to this waiting period abortion clinics are mandated to provide literature that is designed by the state to discourage women from having abortions. We are required to use verbiage that mentions the patients' "unborn child" and we have to give out resources from the state that are supposed to offer options aside from abortion.

Once I actually attempted to contact some of the agencies listed as alternative resources and was not surprised to find out that most of the agencies did not answer their phones or they were not able to provide resources that would actually assist a woman in carrying a pregnancy to term. Sometimes when a woman comes in for a pregnancy test and states that she wants to continue her pregnancy I give her the bundle of booklets provided by the state but I also have to tell her the phone numbers and agencies might not be useful. In order to provide them with a resource that could ACTUALLY assist them seeking prenatal care, I usually give them the number to the same community health clinic where I go for medical care.

Its amazing to me that state and federal government has so much emphasis on discouraging women from accessing abortion care. Yet, when I am asked for resources or information on carrying a pregnancy to term I can not depend on the the "resources" provided by any government agency. I depend on my own knowledge of the community I live in and I try to provide the most comprehensive and useful information I can.

Recently, a patient with some pretty severe mental health issues became very upset upon seeing booklets provided by the state. She was sure she wanted to have an abortion but felt extremely emotional about her decision. All I could do was explain to her that we were mandated by the state to give her such material and assure her that no one working in the clinic wanted to give her such skewed information.I wish both state and federal agencies based policy on abortion on actual science rather than subjective standards of morality.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Once upon a long long time you will wait for an abortion so bring a good book for heaven’s sake

Ever notice that people will wait in line sometimes for days to attend sports events, grand openings, musical concerts, royal weddings, holiday season sales, reality television auditions, presidential inaugurations, a hand shake with the Pope…but come to their crucial, medical appointments hungry and late with somewhere else to be in no time?

I believe this is yet another hairline repercussion/inevitably of obtaining and providing stigmatized services in a degraded society where notions of spirituality have been reduced to owning new things.

Hell is the plastic island in the Pacific.

Once, abortion was sacred. Both tea parties and recovery involved delicious cake.

Featured photo by Anne Geddes, of course

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's the Final Countdown (Not final, but I like music references.)

Top Ten Dumbest, Most Annoying Comments About My Job

10. "Do you do the abortions yourself?"
9. "Do embryos get anesthesia?"
8. "I'm not pro-choice, but I think women should have the option of an abortion."
7. "But if you offer birth control, you'll have fewer abortion patients!"
6. "I know they want to kill you, but the anti-choicers mean well."
5. "Are abortions free?"
4. "I would never have an abortion...but if I did need one, could you give me a discount?"
3. "The doctors are just in it for the money."
2. "I don't think abortion should be used as birth control."
1. "You do know what a fetus looks like, don't you??"

Top Ten Most Amazing Comments About My Job
10. "You saved my life."
9. "I was way more close-minded until I met you and heard about your job."
8. "My bank account is almost empty, but I'd like to donate to your clinic."
7. "By the time I left the clinic, I felt so much better than I had when I walked in."
6. "I've never told anyone, but I had an abortion, and I'm not sorry."
5. "Thank you for being there for women."
4. "I don't care what those jerks outside protesting say; you are absolutely going God's work here."
3. "You're an angel."
2. "I can't wait to tell people that staff at an abortion clinic helped me KEEP my baby!"
1. "I've never been treated so well by anyone as I was by everyone here."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Please shut up so we can actually talk

Sometimes anti-abortion spokespeople act like it's huge news or a total outrage that abortion providers and abortion-rights advocates are hesitant to discuss flaws in their colleagues, partners, or movement. "See," the antis say -- and you can almost hear their crossed arms and satisfied smirk -- "They're only worried about protecting themselves, even if it means protecting their predatory, dangerous, greedy peers." And anti-abortion "activists" are constantly manufacturing problems to "investigate" and "expose" as well -- like when Lila Rose tries to prove that Planned Parenthood staff protect child traffickers, when actually they're telling the fake traffickers that young women can receive free checkups there (true), and then alerting the police (appropriate). 

In such an atmosphere, where tapes are heavily edited and even simple statements get twisted to mean something else entirely, is it any wonder that we fear perverse or disproportionate consequences, from antis and employers alike, if we speak up about the non-manufactured problems that do exist? 

Don't misunderstand: all of us, pro- and anti-choice, want dangerous abortion practices or abusive providers to be brought to light. But those are few and far between, way rarer than anti press would have us believe. So we have to spend our time dissecting what's real and what's BS, and meanwhile, there are more subtle issues that can't take stage, like "I prefer X style of abortion care provision while the only clinic in town provides it like Y," or "My organization has a fantastic mission but terrible leadership," and so forth. Stuff that I really want us to work on. Stuff that would move abortion care from "widely safe, usually decent, sometimes wonderful" to "uniformly excellent." 

I won't give a million more examples right now, but I'm working on it. But if, for example, you want to know why it's taken me weeks to draft (and months to conceptualize) a critique of Planned Parenthood's current position in our field, all you have to do is take a gander at shit like this: 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pro-Choice Hypocrisy

I was doing some internet reading when I stumbled on this Slate article that asks the question of why some pro-choicers are bothered by selective abortion. One thing that really bothers me about the mainstream pro-choice movement is hypocrisy. I am tired of hearing that people have the right to safe, legal abortion until....until it makes me feel uncomfortable or it conflicts with what I would do personally. Isn't that what drives us all crazy about antis, that they try to make people fit into their own moral constraints?

The New York Times has recently published articles on abortion including one in which a woman decides to reduce a twin pregnancy and another about sex-selective abortion. These articles have sparked various blog posts regarding selective abortion, including this one. Now, I understand that even pro-choicers have limitations on how far they personally would go. But what I do have a problem with is casting your morality on someone else and saying their decision to have an abortion is wrong because you don't like their reasoning.

I won't go on a spree of linking to and commenting on the many blog posts the articles have spawned, as the Slate article does a pretty good job of that. I do want to mention one in particular that really bothered me, this short post on RH Reality Check. The author of this post says that she wasn't bothered by the idea of selective abortion...until she read the reasoning given by the patient in the Times article for reducing her twin pregnancy. This woman said that if her pregnancy had come about naturally, she wouldn't have aborted one of the fetuses, but because it was created artificially, she felt it was just one of the decisions she could make about the pregnancy. I don't know exactly what makes the author of the RH Reality Check post so uncomfortable. If you have no problem with selective abortion, then why do you have a problem with this woman's? But I really don't think it's the author's place to judge this woman. She clearly had to make a very difficult decision; one that was ultimately best for her. And isn't that what we want? Don't we want women to be able to make these decisions for themselves? Don't we, pro-choicers, want people to make decisions about their reproductive health free of scrutiny?

Personally I have no problem with anyone's decision to have an abortion - whether it's because she can't afford it, doesn't want multiple births, doesn't want a boy/girl, etc. If you call yourself pro-choice, how about you be just that. Celebrate choice and let the person who has the pregnancy decide what she's going to do and why she's going to do it, and keep your opinions about it to yourself.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Presidential Election 2012

Straws are a pollin, people are debatin.

Presidential 'lection season is in the air. Take a deep breath in and get a whiff of the piping hot bullshit.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I am NOT looking forward to the election and all the fearmongering, lies, and general untruths that will prevail.


Remember when John Kerry's campaign was basically derailed because a group of people MADE UP LIES about him and then had a well-funded ad campaign to disseminate said lies? And then most people seemed to believe them? WTF?

Or all that crap about Obama not being a citizen, or being Islamic, or whatever else?


This batch of GOP candidates aren't really inspiring for those interested in women's reproductive health either.

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas

Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger: “Gov. Perry is proudly pro-life and successfully championed strong pro-life legislation in Texas including parental consent, this year’s sonogram bill and a budget that significantly defunds abortions in Texas,” she said. “The governor has long supported overturning Roe v. Wade, and would support amending the U.S. Constitution, with the backing of Congress and the states, to protect innocent life.”

Rick Perry said he believes abortion should be legal only in cases involving rape or incest or when carrying a pregnancy to term would threaten the woman’s life.

Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Representative in the House

Life is the first right; I'm 100% pro-life from conception.
Prohibit federal funding to groups like Planned Parenthood

Part of our faith is standing for the area of life. and we are completely committed,” Bachmann said of herself and her husband. “After our second child was born, we became pregnant with a third baby, and it was an unexpected baby, but of course we were delighted to have this child. And the child was coming along, and we ended up losing that child. And it was devastating for both of us, as you can imagine if any of you have lost a child. At that moment we didn’t think of ourselves as overly career-minded or overly materialistic. When we lost that child, it changed us. And it changed us forever. And so we made a commitment that no matter how many children were brought into our life we would receive them, because we’re committed to life. And we didn’t know it at that time that we’d be foster parents and that one day we’d be parents of 28 children, but we are extremely grateful for that opportunity because you can get money wrong, but you can’t get life wrong. And I am committed to life.”

Also let us not forget Bachmann sponsored the incredibly fucked up redefine rape bill earlier this year.

And she voted for a Personhood Amendement in February 2009.

Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts
Romney has an interesting background relating to his stance on this issue. Previously, he has stated he is "unwaveringly" pro-choice because he had a relative die from an illegal abortion back in the day. This was, of course, in Massachusetts which has a liberal stance on abortion. Later, when Romney was considering running for office in Utah, he wrote a letter to the newspaper stating "I do not wish to be labeled pro-choice." (??) This "flip-flopping" continues depending on whether he is trying to get elected in Massachusetts or facing a broader, more national audience. He basically seems to say whatever he needs to depending on that audience. I suspect at heart he is not actually pro-life, but who knows. I don't trust him. Salon has a good piece on this.

So these three are considered the front runners thus far for the GOP nomination. The more I read about each of them, the more disturbed I am. Like Michele Bachmann, foster mother of 20-23 (depending on when you ask her), voted no on a parental leave assistance program for federal employees with new children. WTF?

Can't wait until this time next year when we are in full tilt 'Lection Season!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today, a Poem

Today all you great readers get a poem. A cool poem at that. Tell me what you think!

And God Created Abortion
by Sharon Esther Lampert
1. In the Beginning of God's Creating the Heavens and the Earth -
2. When the Womb was Astonishingly Empty, Inside of Every Woman Being
God Made Millions of Eggs That Lived a Fleeting Lifespan. And One by
One, Each Egg Cascaded to its Death. God Made Abortion for Womankind.
And It Was So.
And Inside of Every Man Being, God Made Billions of Sperm That Lived a
Lifespan, And Cascaded to Their Deaths, on the Upstream, Against Gravity.
God Made Abortion for Mankind. And It Was So.
3. God said, "Let there be Abortion," And there was Abortion.
4. God Saw that Abortion was Good, And God Separated the Eggs from the
5. God Called to the Sperm: "Male," And to the Eggs God Called: "Female."
And There Were Men and There Were Women, One Day.
6. God Said, "Let There Be a Conception. And One Plummeting Sperm and
One Plunging Egg Melded into One, And Propagated the Human Species.
And God Let the Lower Species Have a Greater Survival Ratio of Eggs to
7. And God Said: "Let There Be More Ants Per Square Inch Than Human
Beings Per Square Mile." And It Was So.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New school year=new anxiety

I’m starting my doctoral program this month and I’m getting a bit nervous with homework due on the first day, learning my way around a new school system, and of course the inevitable “what if I’m the only pro-choice person in my program?”. For my masters program I knew that I would be surrounded by like-minded folks, mainly because my department put a strong emphasis on reproductive and sexual health, and more importantly, I knew students who told me how pro-choice the environment was. Well, my new program does seem to have some faculty who focus on reproductive and sexual health, but it doesn’t seem to be as integrated or dominant. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but in the meantime I will have to feel things out. I imagine on the first day of class I will confidently state that I work in sexual and reproductive health, and eye the room, looking for signs of potential comrades, those who will talk freely about abortion.

Every time we abortioneers enter a new realm, whether it is a job, school program, or meeting a new social circle, we are faced with the decision to “come out” about our work. I started my new job this summer and I have yet to discuss my past work with most colleagues. I asked the HR guy when he described my benefits package if our health insurance covered abortion….he certainly had never gotten that question before (he also didn’t know the answer). I don’t think most people at my work would be anti-abortion, but I also do not feel the need to bring it up unnecessarily. I also haven’t “come out” as having OCD (although I have a feeling my boss might suspect due to some of my behaviors, ha!). I imagine that I will have to leave work early some day to go pick up an abortion client that I’m hosting, and then I’ll bring it up, and it will be a non-issue. But, there is part of me that feels like not discussing it means I’m hiding it, but I also don’t really have a reason to bring it up.

I will definitely report back on the pro-choice’ness of my new classmates and program. I hope to have nothing but positive things to say, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So Maybe You're not an Abortioneer?

We realize that not everyone who reads this blog is an abortioneer in their professional life. Maybe you believe in a woman's right to choose but you have not ever faced an unintended pregnancy or you haven't ever been asked for support from someone else facing an unintended pregnancy. Policy changes can seem pretty outside of the average individuals realm of influence.

This blog from feminists for choice presents 8.5 simple steps one can take to be pro-choice. You don't have to be a lobbyist on the hill, or working in an abortion clinic, or even bringing your best friend or sister to the clinic to be prochoice. Sometimes its as simple as having a conversation or seeking information about health insurance coverage. Happy Reading!

Monday, August 15, 2011


...not quite.

BUT, you can help provide some data for a study by The Oral Contraceptives Over-the-Counter Working Group to learn about the public's attitudes towards OTC oral contraceptives. In light of the government's recent approval of copay-free contraception, as well as other preventative services, this group based in Ibis Reproductive Health wants your opinion on taking this one step further to maximize access; OTC contraceptives.

In order for such groups to properly advocate for change, they need to understand the motivations and desires of their target groups. So, let them know! Take 5 minutes to complete the survey.


It gave me lots to think about, and I want to pose some discussion questions on the subject. Comment if you have any feelings about them!

a) Will users start skipping their annual gynecological visits if they are no longer required for getting oral contraceptives (OCs)?

b) Will users will feel even more stigmatized having the pimply 16-yr-old cashier ring up their OCs?

c) Will they be sold next to the condoms or behind the counter with the emergency contraception (EC)?

d) What are the implications for users forgoing EC due to all the procurement constraints and using OCs as EC instead (of which I am a big advocate, btw). Is this a detriment to full-on EC promotion? Might EC become obsolete, assuming that barriers to procuring it are greater than those for OCs?

e) Can they print up discreet receipts that don't list the product name?

f) Can cashiers refuse to ring it up citing the conscience clause?

Lots to think about! I'm sure this is not even close to happening anytime soon, but good to be prepared in any case. Discuss, I'd love your opinions!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Turning the (Exam) Tables

I've never had an abortion. I've never even had a pregnancy scare, though that's probably more because of the lack of opportunity than anything else. Sometimes I start to think that I could have just a teeny bit more Abortioneer cred if I had had an abortion, even though I don't really believe that there is a hierarchy of pro-choicedness. And one time, when I was worked up about someone's anti-choice Facebook comment, I considered lying and saying I'd had an abortion, just to shock him and shut him up. You do not need to tell me the many, many problems inherent to this idea, and I'm proud to say I came to my senses. In any event, if I did have an unintended pregnancy, I would have an abortion, and it would not be up for debate, with myself, or anyone else. I would be glad, I would be grateful, and I would be a patient at my own clinic.

A friend once asked me, "Would you choose your clinic if you needed an abortion?" I looked at her like she had grown an IUD out of her nose, and replied, "Um, yeah. Of course." I'm really good at answering without thinking sometimes. Then I ruminate about it for hours. It's a lot of fun being me. So I thought about it later on and considered the fact that a lot of Abortioneers might not be as fortunate to work at a clinic they love and believe in, and it might be just a job to them, and they might have no qualms about going to a clinic that's friendlier, brighter, or, heaven forbid, safer.

A former employee of my clinic was a patient a couple of months ago. I chatted with her about the place and how it had and hadn't changed, and then, feeling a rapport, she confided about how embarrassed she was for being on the other side of stirrups as a patient. "I should have known better," she lamented. "I can't believe I'm here for THIS." "I'm really ashamed of myself." They were all of the heartbreaking reasons our clients often give, but I was surprised to hear them coming from the mouth of an Abortioneer. I'm certain that she wouldn't have judged clients they way she was judging herself, so was she just being hard on herself, or was she expressing her subconscious thoughts about abortion? She was, of course, entitled to her feelings, but those feelings are pretty complex.

I treated that client as well as I treat any other client, and like I know I would be treated if I were an employee-turned-patient. But I can't say for sure how my emotions and biases would or wouldn't align if I were the one having the aspiration. On the plus side, if I ever do, you can be sure I'll write all about it here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Miranda for Abortioneers

I was very moved by The Abortion Provider's Declaration of Rights. It really gave me an aha! moment, when I realized just how bad our beloved docs and nurses have it. You think open heart surgery is tough? Reattaching a severed thumb?

Try laying out your Kevlar vest along with your shirt and socks. Planning a new route to work everyday. Being escorted by security personnel each time you go out in public. Drawing the curtains to block out the protest on your sidewalk. Making sure you kiss all your children goodbye each morning, because it might be your last time. Because you know, as a health care provider, that not only is the well-being of your patients at stake, but yours too.

This is the reality of abortion providers and clinic staff. They wake up every morning knowing that they are stepping into a lion's den and might be clawed to pieces. And they continue to do it! There is no doctor on earth who faces the music like an abortion doctor, whose livelihood and life is constantly hanging in the balance, who faces obstacle upon ridiculous obstacle simply to be able to treat a patient. Nobody cares if a dermatologist's office is associated with a local hospital. Or if it has a 20 sq ft broom closet, or fluorescent lighting, or toilet paper that rolls from the front and not the back.

Anyway, sign the declaration in honor of Dr. Tiller, Dr. Carhart, or any of the other stupendous abortion providers! To commemorate the occasion, I've rendered an illustration of an abortion doc declaring his rights:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Economic Woes

With the doom and gloom of the economy, we all naturally take a step back to think about our own personal finances and what we really need to spend money on. Do I really need that morning coffee from the coffee shop on the way to work, when I can brew one to go at home? Maybe not. Do I really need to eat out as much when I can cook at home more often? Maybe not. Do I really need to buy that shirt/sweater/dress even if it's on sale? Maybe not. Do I really need to continue making donations to my favorite charities? Absolutely!

Even faced with my own upcoming financial insecurity, I am determined to continue making regular contributions to my local abortion fund. I know it's difficult to decide what to cut out, but if you're a contributor to abortion funds, I implore you to think twice before giving up that donation. With the economy still tanking and the budget cut process sure to bring cuts to social welfare programs like public funding for abortion (where they still do that), help is needed more than ever. I talk to more and more people who are out of work, off unemployment (or never received it in the first place), and who feel helpless about their situation.

Please think about continuing (or starting) to donate to a local or national fund. They are really hurting right now, and could really use the support. I know those of us that work in direct abortion service, can tell you how much the people who do receive help truly appreciate it and feel as though they've been given their life back.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Can we talk about Sandy Rios and why she sucks?

Have you watched the clip Sparky posted on Friday? If you haven't, watch it now. I'll wait.

Okay. So can we take a minute to talk about how incredibly fucked up the views espoused in the clip are?

If you watch the whole segment from FOX News, Sandy Rios, Vice President of Family PAC Federal, says some insane things that deserve more attention:

“Why in the world would you encourage your daughters, and your granddaughters, and whoever else comes behind you to have unrestricted, unlimited sex anytime, anywhere and that, somehow if you prevent pregnancy, that somehow you’ve helped them. I would submit to you that uncontrolled sexual behavior is what is harming our girls, not their lack of birth control — which by the way they don’t seem interested in taking anyway. Having a baby is not the worst thing. I think having multiple sex partners without any kind of restraint or responsibility is much more damning, why would you support that?”

So, this is a pretty popular, deeply embedded societal belief: If women take birth control, they WILL have wild promiscuous sex. If they have access to EC, they WILL abuse it and use it as a method of birth control. Why is our country so terrified of women having access to birth control? What is so threatening about the prospect of women being in control of their bodies?

Also - "Having a baby is not the worst thing." EXSQUEEZE ME? Having an unwanted child seems like a pretty bad option, for both the mother and child. Instead, Rios demonizes women who have multiple sexual partners, saying that is much worse. So it's better to have sex and have babies, versus have sex? .......................What?

“Is the White House out of their mind? Does the West Wing not know what the left wing is doing? We’re $14 trillion in debt and now we’re going to cover birth control, breast pumps, counseling for abuse? Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well?”


I like how birth control, which in the long run will save the country billions per year, breast pumps, which have proven to improve the health of the mother and the child (thus also has long term savings benefits), and counseling for abuse survivors somehow equates to a completely frivolous, unnecessary purchase like a manicure.

And what is with her complete dismissal of abuse survivors? Statistically, she knows someone who has been abused. Therapy is fucking expensive. If you are lucky enough to have insurance, it probably doesn't cover the full cost of each session, which in metropolitan areas easily runs $150 for a 45 minute session, so it can add up quickly. If you don't have insurance, good luck paying for that. $150 4x or 2x a month? Forget it. Free counseling for abuse survivors is a completely awesome service. I'm sure Rios prefers our society's traditional method of Shame & Silence. I'll just stay with my husband and he can keep beating me, NBD. :/

Friday, August 5, 2011

Some Comedy for your Friday!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Giving Love to Those Who Stand Up

I'm sending mass love out to this man who stood up to protesters who had been doing their normal yelling thing at his wife as they were walking into an abortion clinic in Brookline, MA this fall. (Yes, the same Brookline, MA where John Salvi murdered two clinic workers in 1994.)
After he walked into the clinic with his wife, he returned outside to confront the protesters and let them know that the abortion they were about to have was because of a fetal anomaly. It was a wanted pregnancy and they were very sad. Watch this video: he's wonderful!


You can read more about him on The Good Men Project website here. And also on his personal blog, here.

I've read he's been having a hard time and the anti trolls are onto him. He probably doesn't know about us - I sure as hell didn't know about him - but I think we need to reach out. Give him some love. Let him know we understand, that we're sorry he had to go through such shit, that his wife had to go through such shit. That all women who go to clinics deal with this. And sorry we need escorts, sorry our doctors are attacked, sorry that our society is so silent and judgmental. Sorry that not enough of us who have had abortions have spoken out.

Give him some love everyone. I'm giving him my thanks, too. (Because, Mister Man, there aren't enough of you.)

About A Girl.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One in three (but not me!)

People talk to me about abortion, theirs and others. They talk to me because they know I am a “safe space” of sorts, and you, my dear abortioneers reader can relate, right? We are the people who friends, family, family friends, and strangers on the street confide in about their friend’s abortion, their sister’s abortion, their mother’s abortion, THEIR abortion.

I meet people, usually men, who say they don’t know anyone who has had an abortion. And I always reply, “oh yes, you definitely do, they just haven’t told you”. And then, I meet the women who are always willing to divulge their own abortion story, or their birth control experiences, or who seek advice on reproductive health topics. In fact, one of my favorite get-to-know-you topics is what kind of birth control someone is on (for those engaged in the type of sex that could lead to a pregnancy of course).

We in abortion land often quote the “1 in 3 by age 45 will have an abortion” statistic. We parade it around—our banner of pride that demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of abortion. This statistic can be debated over and over, and it will vary by race, class, sexuality, etc…but whether it’s 1 in 10 or 1 in 2 it’s still a lot of fucking people. And we all know a lot of fucking people right? So we all know someone who has had an abortion. But for most people they clearly would never know it.

Someone I work with sent an email out at work today stating that he was leaving early for an emergency dental appointment. I dream of the day when I get a similar email from a coworker leaving early for an abortion. Because I know it’s happening.

Do people talk to you about their abortion? Do you talk to people about yours?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Three-Week Follow-Up

At the clinic I work at, patients are told to return for a three-week follow-up. I always feel a sense of joy when a patient comes in for her follow-up visit and it’s as though her life has made a 180, a complete turnaround. 

Last week a woman showed up for her follow-up with a big smile on her face and mentioned her boyfriend who had accompanied her to her appointment. She said she and her boyfriend hoped to get more financially stable and then plan to have a kid in the next few years.
This patient had stuck out to me, because she cried through every moment of both her state-mandated counseling appointment and her procedure appointment. I assisted in the room during her procedure and her tears seemed endless.

Call me brash, but I often feel challenged by patients who cry, particularly when their tears seem to be infinite. I am always professional and I try to be supportive and kind. However, I cannot tell a lie: in every capacity I have ever worked in as an abortioneer, I have been challenged by “criers.” I do understand when a woman sheds tears, and I believe women have the right to respond to the choice to have an abortion however they need to. There is a certain harshness in me that is challenged by other people's tears.

I remember being trained at my first job in an abortion clinic. After I took my first phone call, the person training me told me, "Good job, but try to watch how harsh your voice is -- many of the women calling need to hear a supportive voice on the other end of the phone." I'm not sure if it is personality or life experience, but I just don't cry a lot, and when someone else cries I have to make a special effort not to be dismissive, in both my personal and professional life.

The patient who recently showed up to her follow-up appointment beaming had presented this challenge for me. She cried when I told her we did not allow male partners to the back, she cried when she met with the doctor, she cried when she set her appointment. On the day of her abortion she walked in with her boyfriend, sniffling and tearing up. She cried as her boyfriend paid the fee, she cried when I handed her the gown to change into, she cried off and on throughout every moment of both of her appointments.

I know that I treated her just as I treat any other patient and we did the best we could to make her experience as comfortable as possible. And she walked into her follow-up appointment with a smile from ear to ear. She told the receptionist that she was feeling great and she hoped to have a kid with her boyfriend when they were more stable. I was tied up with another patient and didn’t have any interaction with this patient at her follow-up, but I heard the relief and joy in her voice and saw it in her body language.

So often this is the case -- patients come into follow-up appointments with joy and relief written all over their faces. It's part of why I know what I do is sacred.