What does it mean to Trust Women?
Do I really have to answer such a simple question?
Justify such a powerful statement?
Is the idea that personal integrity and freedom extends to women such a stretch?
Why does the content of my uterus change my right to legal medical care?
My right to decide if I want to be a parent.
Why must I shoulder the burden of my pharmacist’s conscience
What is it about women refusing to acquiesce our reproductive and sexual autonomy that evokes the kind of anger that manifests bombings and murder.
Every year the anniversary of Roe v. Wade gives me pause. I am ready to celebrate, yell from the rooftops my joy at being a woman, a queer person and the Supreme Court’s decision to respect my privacy and bodily autonomy. In that same moment however, I mourn the tragedy that is the anti-choice movement’s march across the political landscape, throwing up roadblocks large and small. The cumulative result being a tiered system of the haves and the have nots, baring access to reproductive health care with parental consent laws, 24 hour waits, compulsory ultrasound viewing, personhood amendment, prohibitions on sex education, emergency contraception and constant stigmatization and harassment.
I started escorting at EMW Women’s Surgical Center in 1999 and am there every Saturday morning. I have walked with countless families past protesters yelling, begging, lying, crying, pushing, obstructing, harassing and bullying.
I have used my body to create space between the most confident 15 year old in the world and grown men who think they know her story without ever asking.
I have run with terrified women past protesters trying to grab her arm into the clinic doors.
I have stopped anti-choice protesters from slipping religious materials into client’s purses.
I have watched protesters call out their neighbors by name as they enter the clinic and then call the client’s mothers, pastors and sisters to bully them into leaving.
I have held a crying woman in my arms as she told me about her diagnosis with MS after her health began to rapidly deteriorate with her fourth pregnancy, and the agony in her voice as she wondered about sacrificing her body for the one or preserving her health for the other 3.
I have heard hundreds of stories of families in need, poverty beyond my wildest nightmares and heartache that I do not have the language skill to adequately express. And everyone of these people have been forced to walk through a gauntlet of anti-choice protesters who believe they know better than each of these women how to handle the struggles in their lives.
So what does it look like to Trust Women?
Trust is earned by every working mother.
Trust is knowing that women are life bearers. There is great power and knowledge in being the one to bring forth humanity. Trust is believing that women know better than anyone else when and if they have the resources to bring a child into this world.
Trust is agreeing to disagree; every woman experiences pregnancy on a continuum, Trust is supporting women no matter what.
Trust is acknowledging and dismantling privilege.
Trust is recognizing that poverty, racial and gender oppression burden us all.
There is no healthy world without healthy women.
Dr. Tiller understood.
Women are to be trusted.
I wanted to find a way to volunteer at my local clinic and came across your site. I will definitely call tomorrow and see how I can help.
Out of curiosity, what percentage of the women at your clinic back out of the procedure? Do you think the protesters have any bearing on that decision? Do the women ever say that the protesters changed their mind?
Back to reading your blog…
I really could not give you a percentage of women who change their minds. However, Just like with every weighty decision in our lives sometimes we are confident and sometimes we are not so sure. Either way, the decision to terminate has little to do with the protesters. Occasionally, there will be a woman who just needs a little help or support, and while I find the type of “support” offered by AWC appalling, who am I to decide what is right for any given woman? Choice is a great thing eh?
I would also suggest that deciding that an abortion is not the right decision in any particular moment is not backing out. It may be figuring out what is a good choice.
RARELY have I spoken with a client who say the protesters changed their mind in a positive way, in fact I have never spoken with a women who said they felt loved and supported by them enough to make her decision based on that interaction.
In contrast I have spoken with many clients who were intimidated as fuck by these ass holes and left in tear, only to come back another day in the hopes of it being a little bit easier. I have also seen clients be so terrified of walking through the crowd they left and I never saw them again. That is not to say they did not come back or go to another state, but there is no way for me to know.
In general the decision to terminate is not one that women make based on what works for other people, and thus other people (mostly strangers) have little effect on the reality of her life. If we trust women to understand the variables in her life, we will trust that she is the most appropriately positioned person to make the ultimate decision in regards to having an abortion.
Why must I shoulder the burden of my pharmacist’s conscious?
You mean “conscience.” 🙂
BTW, great post, and thank you for all you do.
!doh! thanks, that one slipped right on past me. I’ll get it fixed right now.