Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Staying Afloat

I work in an abortion clinic, I'm over worked, underpaid, and generally just sort of trying to stay afloat in a backwater madhouse. I have worked at my job for nearly 2 years and I have not had a raise or any paid time off, yet my responsibilities have quadroopled. I'm tired and burned out. The administration at my job feels the business is struggling so much they just can't afford employee incentives, so instead they have good employees who get burned out in short periods of time and leave.

When I consider trying to write about my job and the experiences I have in providing abortion care I just want to scream and curse out everyone.

The anti-abortion movement is clearly really well organized. They have created websites that list abortion providers names and addresses, they terrorize suppliers, and physicians who have any professional relationships with abortion providers even if they aren't providing. Its really sick. They have successfully infiltrated the department of health and hospitals and thus inhibited women's access to abortion in the state where I live and work. I feel like I'm telling them they are winning because I know some sick radical anti is probably reading this now.

I may work longer hours and feel overwhelmed but women who don't want to be pregnant are still finding ways to terminate even given all the obstacles anti-abortion nuts are trying to create. Clinics are still staying open and finding ways to stay in business. I guess I try to operate with a certain level of faith that because abortion should be available and accessible it will continue to be even if access isn't exactly accessible.

I pray to live in a world where abortion is a medical procedure that someone may opt to have. People will some how finally realize someone else's pregnancy and the outcome of their pregnancy is just none of anyone's damn business.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Men are from Earth

I want to talk about sexual health. Abortion. Yes, abortion is a part of the sexual health spectrum but I want to talk about something else my clinic offers.

Cancer screenings, STD screenings, contraceptive consultations. Yes, we offer these too and they are a part of the sexual health spectrum as well.

But I want to talk about how not every man who walks through the clinic doors is a man involved with a doomed pregnancy. We offers services for men.

In fact, men have sexual health, too.

An integral part of Abortioneers’ work involves normalizing functions of the body and discussing best practices for a best life. Is the scent odorous or just human? Are the size, texture, color, and frequency desirable, creepy, animalistic? Yes, all of the above.

Stinging, burning, itching, round sores, and flesh-tone skin tags probably not normal, but treatable. Everything is treatable. Some things are curable. But only when people know they have them.

An integral part of my work as an Abortioneer involves discussing sex lives namely with women—identities, preferences, mishaps, cycles, outcomes, rape, and abuse. Fluids. In turn, I regard life with awe. We are such wondrous beings. So much inside us still to come.

This week, I met with a man in his mid-twenties seeking a routine screening for sexually transmitted diseases. He had no symptoms but had never been tested despite several sex partners. A partner three years past informed him of a longstanding Chlamydia infection so he was catching up. Chlamydia can have no symptoms.

In completing his routine screening, we discussed another matter. Discharge. He wanted to know if it was normal to have discharge during initial erection when aroused. I suppose he could have asked his friends. Instead, he was asking me. Yes, yes that is normal pending it’s clearish, non-odorous, non-irritating, and normal for him. He had been wondering that for a loooooooong time.

I suppose he could have asked his friends or any one of his past partners. But we live in a strange world where body fluid is rarely addressed despite so much of it. They’ve probably watched porn together and discussed tits and cunts. But then there is actual desire and inherent need. Not just vessels of god’s creation, bloody, wet animals.

All of them. All of us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making the Best

I'm having a hard time getting over what I read in HuffPo yesterday:

Rick Santorum: "Make the best out of a bad situation"

Rick Santorum is awful for a number of reasons, many of them excusable. (hey, he can't help being a TOTAL MORON.) But one thing I can't stomach is this culture of rape acceptance. It's maddening.

I used to be a rape acceptor. I used to be one of the people who thought:

"Of course you're going to get harassed with your tits hanging out!"
"If the guy was bothering you why didn't you just get up and leave?"
"Sure it's tough, but it's just a part of being a woman. You have to expect that kind of behavior from men."

I also made jokes about rape, laughed at jokes about rape, didn't think too much when I heard about rape. Then I realized I was nuts. I don't care how common sexual assault is. I don't care how short someone's skirt is, or how out her tits are hanging. We should never have reached a point at which we simply don't care that a person has been raped. I actually reached this epiphany one night when two of my closest friends jumped down my throat. I had been with a guy who used me for sex, never talked to me again, and left me with a nice little reminder of the occasion for which he never expressed concern. It was not assault/rape by any means, but the blame barrage that followed from these two friends was plain hurtful:

"He didn't even like you. I tried to tell you that."
"You knew what he was like and you still went after him."
"Maybe he never said anything because he was too ashamed. You should have confronted him first."

After that, I could only imagine how terrible I'd have felt had I been assaulted. What if I hadn't chosen it? What if it had been forced upon me, and I still had it thrown in my face? What if, on top of all that, I became pregnant and were forced to bear a child and potentially parent it?

What so many fail to realize is that rape hurts. It's frightening, it's disgusting, and makes you feel like a pile of shit. It can affect the rest of your life. Moreover, it is a crime. Remember that part? Nobody seems to care about this anymore. Why are people more upset about an aborted rape pregnancy than about the rape itself? Rape is fundamentally wrong, and before we can even have intelligent discussions about how to deal with rape pregnancies people like Santorum need to first get on board with the fact that something illegal happened. (Referring to the rape, of course. People also seem to forget that abortion is legal.)

While pondering this matter I discovered "Project Unbreakable". The brains behind P.U. is a young woman who wanted to provide a way for sexual assault victims to heal. That is, by using the words of their assailants to regain their strength after the event(s). Rick Santorum needs to see these. He needs to know exactly what happens to people during rape, the kinds of hateful words they endure. In any case it's a powerful movement and I encourage you all to have a look. You can even participate if you feel so inclined, and bless all your hearts for being in the right place.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beware of the Superbowl Commercials

How does one ruin the Superbowl for everyone? Run anti-abortion commercials!

Randall Terry, everyone's favorite anti to hate, is running for President. He has no chance and knows that. So why would he run you ask? Part of the FCC Telecommunications Act says that candidates' ads must be run and can't be altered if aired within 45 days of a Presidential primary. As long as Terry can get the money together (and apparently has in 13 television markets), he can run whatever he wants. If you live in these areas, you can prepare to see some graphic fetus porn. Because I refuse to link directly to Randall Terry's website, I will link to a CNN article. While these ads could be worse, I still don't know too many people who want to see this while they have family and friends gathered for food and football (pro- or anti-choice).

I did go to his website to view the ads, and I saw that he's raising money to air the ads. Undoubtedly there are many misguided people out there who are ok with this crap airing on TV. I wish I could do something to prevent people from donating to this nut job. While I may not be able to do that, I can try to do something to encourage people to donate to his opposition. Below I've listed some fabulous pro-choice options for donations.

EMILY's List
NARAL Pro-Choice America
Planned Parenthood
National Abortion Federation
National Network of Abortion Funds

Let's offset Randall Terry and show him that we will not be silenced or deterred.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Roe Day!

Roe Day is a celebration of a woman's right to choose. It's a day when we should reflect on the sacrifices made by those who came before us. Remember those who died or risked their lives to have control over their bodies and to ensure that the generations that came after would have the same right.

For 39 years we have had the right to choose. Many of us have grown up only ever knowing what this is like. It's pretty amazing to have grown up with this right, but let's not be complacent. All across the country, state legislatures are slowly chipping away at this right. The Republican contenders for President salivate at the opportunity to get rid of Roe.

We can't allow that to happen. We can't allow the sacrifices made by our predecessors to be in vain. Celebrate Roe today and continue the fight for future generations.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Happy Friday, dear readers! We all need a bit of cheer sometimes, so thought we'd try to brighten up your almost weekend by sharing some of our favorite abortion funnies. A huge thanks to someecards which just rocks. So, for starters, we think those of you who get stuck in traffic will enjoy this one!

Sadly, this one seems to sum up our government at the moment!

OMG! Honetly, an Abortioneer must've come up with this one...

An Abortioneer might've made this ecard, too. Might actually be a great blog post sometime!

Because that would happen...(sarcasm)

Feel a bit unsure about whether to post this one or not since I don't agree that there are people who "should" have abortions; however, I love the point that this makes...(15 year olds are able to get on the pill, but can't get Plan B OTC? Puuhhhhlleeeaaaz.)

(my favorite funny of the day!)

Hope these made you laugh! This isn't an exhaustive list for us...and feel free to share some of your own favs, too!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Remember Roe v Wade

Sunday is Roe v Wade. For abortioneers, it is a holiday sort-of. The big celebration of gaining our federal right to decide when - or if - we want to become mothers. Doing direct service work, we see women on a daily basis benefitting this historic decision; yet it feels like many of our patients are unaware of the political climate we find ourselves in currently, always fighting just to keep clinic doors open.

Sometimes, I want to tell patients (especially on Roe v Wade day) that without that decision, they wouldn't be in our clinic. They may be trying to obtain an unsafe, illegal abortion. Or maybe the 15 year old girl who was raped, would be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Sometimes I think there is more we could do to raise awareness of the importance of Roe v Wade to our patients on this day. I mean, I know a lot of clinics won't be working on Sunday, but maybe there is something we could do on Monday. Or Saturday. Maybe your clinic can make Roe v Wade ribbons that all the staff wear and give out to patients. Maybe you can leave colorful flyers in the waiting room for support people to read about how their loved one wouldn't be having an abortion without Roe v Wade and how this very sacred right is currently threatened.

I think this starts with staff, though, too. Employers need to really recognize Roe v Wade as a special day so that the staff can be educated, too...and then, hopefully, pass that onto the patients they see or speak with.

In the very least....without Roe v Wade, none of us would even be working as abortioneers. At least not legally.

We have a lot to be thankful for...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Abortioneers' Blackout (after a quick post)

We at Abortioneers are supporting the online blackout today and will keep this brief. If you have no idea what I am talking about read here and here.

So, why do the Abortioneers care about this?

Any efforts to increase internet censorship or infringe on free speech will impact us. That simple.

The Abortioneers started because there was a hunger for information straight from the source itself--something that wasn't happening in the "real" world. We gather on the internet to fuel this blog and thus disseminate information about a highly stigmatized and already censored topic. It is a human right for people to have information on abortion, and yes, I personally believe that includes information on controlling ones own reproductive functions however they choose--and for many people that information can only come from the internet.

Thanks for supporting us AND this blackout.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday's abortion wants to be bonny and blithe and good and gay

As the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade approaches, it feels a bit (or a ton) like there’s little to celebrate.

Honestly, according to Guttmacher Institute, 92 anti-abortion provisions passed in 24 states in 2011. Ho Hum.

But supposing 2011 is inconsequential and everything of 2012 is new and either headed for a new world or truly doomed...

Eloquently, Whole Woman’s Health issued a press release over a new sonogram law passed in Texas, including this fine gem: “We know that every day, good women have abortions.”

Read the entire release here: Whole Woman’s Health: Official Press Release Regarding the Texas Sonogram Bill

Holistically, there is also this historical perspective from a professor and advocate, Dr. Jeannie Ludlow: "I propose that we look again at illegal, extralegal, and legal abortion and reshape our understanding to focus on the difference between harmful, exploitive practices and safe, compassionate care. "

Read the entire article here: Reframing Compassionate Care: Of Madame Restell and Other Outlaws

(Pleasantly) surprisingly, Forbes magazine features the National Network of Abortion Funds: "In short, requiring women to carry every pregnancy to term would plunge a far greater number of women and children into poverty than are already there.

Those Privileged Among Us Who Continue to Have Choice Have an Obligation to Our Sisters Who Do Not..."

Read the entire article here: After She Sold Her Wedding Ring

However lightly, for those who follow football: Should You Fuck Tim Tebow? Have I mentioned my new year's solution is to convert TIm Tebow? Mountain man...

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I once volunteered for an organization that helped women afford safe abortions regardless of their income. I still do work for an organization that helps women afford abortions regardless of their income but it’s a different organization. There are many of us but never enough. There is never enough money in the right hands to make the world so safe for everyone.

I once worked with a woman who made too much money to qualify for the organization’s modest fund. She lived paycheck to paycheck but within comfortable means. Because my organization, as well as several other organizations, could not afford to assist her, she chose to obtain surgery at one of Steve Brigham’s clinics in Maryland—one of the cheapest clinics in the region.

She delayed her surgery to accrue the money on her own and spoke with me throughout the process because she intended to tell no one. Our conversations were completely centered on the expertise I could provide but there were limits to my services and I could offer little beyond confidential abortion information and referrals over the phone.

The conversations were brief but serious. At times, I felt her calls were taking over my life: on lunch, at the laundromat, making dinner, late night. She called me after her second trimester procedure. She was driving and pulled over to vomit. She had been sedated and released from the clinic without an escort to drive her home.

Avoiding and counter-referring the cheapest clinics in the Mid-Atlantic region is difficult and bothersome at best. Demoralizing, confounding, heart breaking that this is how the system works.

The existence of terrible abortion providers—those who make a business out of the desperation women feel when they know they cannot carry a pregnancy to term—creates an ultimate conundrum for Abortioneers—those who believe abortion helps society because they see how often it does. Abortioneers spend free time helping women navigate barriers to obtaining safe abortion care.

Case managers and patients alike desired abortions from Steve Brigham’s clinics because they needed to end pregnancies that were not meant to be but also feed children, pay rent, pay for school, pay bills. In a field so terrorized by anti-abortion monsters, there is urgency in the fight for women’s proper destiny that transcends the demand for safe health care. In other words, history has proven over and over that women will risk their lives to end doomed pregnancies.

An abortion at a shady clinic that’s not a back alley kitchen table seems somewhat more promising—the only option for some of your neighbors and you're okay with that as long as you don’t have to really talk about abortion, the abortions women are actually having, not the political weapon invented by the GOP.

My dear colleague and I visited one of Steve Brigham’s clinics soon after the case of the woman who drove home quasi-sedated. I took a pregnancy test. The medical assistants were kind and accommodating but the atmosphere was unsettling. My dear colleague and I resolved to find the money to help women get to the good clinics, the slightly higher-priced clinics—licensed and certified to provide safe, legal abortions.

In other words, as a non-medical, grassroots organization, we were not obligated to care whether the women we assisted received licensed and certified surgeries but we did care because we’re Abortioneers. The United States of America was founded under the governing principle that all people are inherently free, equal, and due justice. I would add that most people are just trying to get by. Laws have been implemented to protect the general good from the (rare) deviant.

Placing further limitations on the abortion procedure and tighter regulations on abortion facilities in the state of Maryland will not necessarily catch the rare and deviant Brigham-types any sooner in the grand pile of paperwork. However, caring about women having abortions will.

Most to the point, how about cracking down on New Jersey for failing to provide adequate health care? Often, abortion restrictions involve room measurements, time periods and additional hoops for abortioneers and pregnant women to meander through, or just plain prohibit necessary health care all together. I’m all for each state getting to know its abortion providers. Many abortion clinics in this country are quite stellar, but damn if a congressperson or state official ever walked through the doors just to say hello and thank you/ how can I help?

I can’t think of how this story might unfold in any other field of medicine because I do not know. But I can suggest that persecuting perfectly good abortion care providers—arguably some of the best in the country—detracts from a far more pertinent need: taking care of our pregnant citizens.

Steve Brigham was operating a business off the inevitability of abortion. He had a record. He was criminal, a rule-breaker who spotted a need and families willing to pay him for his supposed expertise.

Send him to jail but please do not hunt down the good clinics and treat them in the woods where no one not having an abortion cares to hear. There is a noble world ahead. One where Cheryl of Operation Rescue is not quoted in the Baltimore Sun like she’s some kind of reasonable and credible source.

When a woman resolves to have an abortion she has no choice. There is no world where some pregnant women will not have abortions. In exploring our disgust and misconceptions with abortion we find a real world—one where humans make complicated decisions and dying is a part of living—interwoven, like, death is happening right now inside and everywhere at the same time as life.

Your support starts with listening. Like, being able to hear the truth.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Working 9-5: How We Talk (Or Don't) About Abortion

We frequently discuss how to talk to friends/acquaintances/family who are not abortioneers about being an abortioneer. Or even, simply, about abortion. Though I’ve been doing this work a long time, I find I go through stages. Sometimes it’s easier to discuss abortion and other times, it just isn’t easy at all. Probably some of it depends on how much is going on at work (if it’s stressful or we’re having a lot of protesters, I tend not to want to discuss work outside work as much. Especially with people who just won’t get it anyway).

It can feel isolating to have the people who are closest to you not understand your work, your commitment to it, and your passion for it. Only recently have I been able to have conversations with my dad about abortion after years of bitter silence. Sometimes, it’s still frustrating to even talk to my husband; for example, if I have a shit day, he is quick to tell me I should just leave the clinic. He reminds me that I already have to put up with protesters and the stigma that comes along with being an abortioneer. He asks why I should stick around if my boss is being…err…unappreciative. It’s hard for me to explain to him that I’m committed to something larger (the “work”) and can put up with a bunch of bullshit in order to feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life…and I’m motivated by that…not quite as much by recognition from my employer.

It’s stigma that really makes it so difficult to talk about our work. I haven’t even discussed it with my son’s best friend’s mom (who I have become very good friends with). We do mommy things together all the time; we take our sons to soccer practice, to basketball practice. Over the summer, our kids did gymnastics and baseball. We see each other almost every day. Still, I am vague about my work and have never used the word “abortion.” She probably knows. I’ve mentioned asshole protesters before so hopefully she’s put it all together, but we’ve never talked about it: abortion. Not once. I have no idea how she feels about it, but obviously, I’m worried or else I’d speak more freely. The reality is, though I know she’s fairly liberal, I also know she’s a small town girl, a cowgirl at heart, who likes to ride horses and is from a conservative area. (Which does not mean she would be anti-abortion!)

...So I get nervous. And I feel like I need to grow the fuck up! LOL

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Would you rather...

Last night was the Iowa Caucus and I have Republicans on the brain. So, I pose this conundrum to my fellow abortioneers (who I presume to not identify/vote/align as anti-abortion Republicans):

Q. Would you rather have sex with Michele Bachmann OR Rick Santorum?

I mean, you could easily substitute "vote" for "sex" here. However, I really want to talk about sex! I think at this point in my life I would have to say I would rather die from a sex drought than have sex with an anti-abortion Republican. But then I think, can sex just be sex? What if they are amazing in bed??? I have thought about this a lot over the years, and I really don't think I could give one of these zealots the satisfactin of sleeping with a sex-positive birth control-using person such as myself. I mean what happens if that one-night stand with a Republican turns into a pregnancy??? You certainly can't ask them to help pay for the abortion (well, unless you can, which probably happens often...lots of those "anti-abortion until it happens to me" types are out there). But, what if you decide to have the baby? You potentially have an anti-abortion baby daddy on your hands who could be in your life FOREVER. Ugh. So, that is why I have established my embargo.

I would love to hear your "would you rather" scenarios...submit your ideas in the comments!