Have you read “Ask an Abortion Provider” on the Hairpin yet? This is for serious, and it is seriously amazing. Why did the author choose this path? “I figured the most direct way to ensure that there wasn’t a total asshole at the bottom of the table was to do it myself,” sayeth she. And she goes on:
I was with the doctor I train with doing the initial steps of an intake — an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and a full history.The patient says to the doctor, “I should not be here today. I agree with the people out there.” Gestures out window to street. The people at the bus stop???? “The people who are protesting. I think what you are doing is wrong. I think you should be killed.” Oh. Whoaaaa! …
So I told my patient what I truly believe, which is: “I’m so sorry that you feel that way because feeling that way has got to make this an even harder decision than it already is. I imagine it must really feel awful to think that you have to do something that goes against your own beliefs.” (Secret inspiration: my own feelings about the situation!)
“I know there is no way you’re going to go home feeling you did the absolute right thing no matter what happens today. We are not going to do any procedure until you are absolutely certain that this is what you want. I do not want you to have an abortion. The only that I want you to do is the thing that is most right for you, whether it’s continuing this pregnancy and becoming a parent, or adoption, or abortion.” Then we brought her with her boyfriend to the counselor who talked with them for hours about the spectrum of resources available for not just abortion but adoption and parenting. At my clinic, we joke that we turn away more patients than the protesters do.
And although she did end up terminating the pregnancy, the procedure went well, there were no complications, and she told the staff we had been the “most supportive!” I personally thanked her and told her it was an honor to be there for her and still get teary when I think about it. Ice burn, Lila Rose!
On Saturday I rallied for women’s health and Planned Parenthood and I was moderately proud of myself in a “Good girl! Look what you did instead of lolling on the couch watching old episodes of Buffy and eating packs of Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed” kind of way.
Reading this piece makes me think about soldiers. I didn’t grow up around military people and yet, when I met a Marine on New Years Eve in New Orleans, I knew exactly what to say: “Thank you for your service.” I rely on the men and women who join the Armed Forces to protect my freedoms. However you may feel about the Military Industrial Complex, you have to respect the individuals who commit to spending a year at a time in dusty, desert-y, Middle Eastern countries away from their families and friends and Netflix and Trader Joe’s, and much closer to death than we, in general, are.
But the men and women who choose to become abortion providers, and the fine folks at Planned Parenthood who support them, are protecting me too, and without anywhere near the same kind of societal recognition. Because I know that those doctors are there, I don’t have to choose between having a romantic life and a professional one. Because they are there, I can work — at my office, 9-5, as well as on my writing — and take that work, and myself, seriously. Because they are there, I don’t have to just be a woman; I can be a person too. They give me that freedom.
So thank you to everyone at Planned Parenthood who were so kind to me when I went in, twice, while unemployed, because I didn’t know where else I could afford health care. Thanks to those of you who stand at the ready in case I need you for other reasons, and who have helped the women I know who needed you. Thank you, Gail Collins, for urging me to think about all these issues as I read When Everything Changed. And thank you, Dolores P., for your service, which, in so many ways, makes everything possible.