When we write articles for this blog, we try to keep in mind the privacy of the clients. We talk about what happens on the sidewalk. We relate things the clients, companions, antis, and pedestrians say to us as we escort. We try not to tell the personal things clients relate to us on their decision to have an abortion. Their stories are not ours to tell. That doesn’t mean we are indifferent to them.
We write about the legislative barriers to abortion nationally and in our state. The politicians keep reminding people with uteri that we are less than equal in terms of decisions about our healthcare. The focus of outrage keeps being diverted from the chipping away of abortion access to the outrageous things said about rape. “Legitimate rape,” “easy rape,” “gift from God,” are all reasons that have been given to ban abortion for everyone, no exceptions. The misstatements about rape get all the attention, while the access to abortion issue is buried in the discussions.
Abortion should be available to everyone who desires one, in my opinion. There should be no, ‘Well, you can get one because you have a reason we approve of, but you can’t because we don’t agree with your reason.’
The visible barriers a client has to go through to access abortion services are considerable. Each state has restrictions in waiting periods, ultrasounds, counseling, parental notification, TRAP laws, and any other delay that legislators can think to legislate. It has become harder and harder to navigate these barriers.
The other visible barriers are economic: cost of contraception, cost of abortion, lost wages for time off of work, transportation costs. Legislators making double-triple sure government funds are not used to fund Planned Parenthood or abortion services. This effectively closes health care off from millions of uninsured of all genders.
What of the invisible barriers? The shame and stigma of abortion. Even contraception is controversial now and has its share of slut-shaming, as Sandra Fluke found out.
The current conversations about reproductive services, abortion in particular, make me feel as if I have wandered into a “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” cartoon when they are using the Wayback Machine. (For non-”Rocky and Bullwinkle” fans)
A conversation I had last week has played over and over in my mind. It was held in another state about abortion services in that state. There were a lot of disturbing pieces to the long conversation, but mostly what struck me is the obstacles in the lives of clients faced with an unwanted pregnancy.
The overwhelming feeling of this person I talked to was that they somehow should be able to make another decision instead of abortion. “People think bad about you. I was afraid you would think I was a bad person.” The multiple reasons given to justify the decision to have an abortion. With each reason, I was told, “I need this abortion because….” As if any reason besides their decision was needed. We should have the right to decide without qualifiers.
As I have thought about this conversation this past week, the song “What It’s Like” by Everlast has been playing in my mind. This song was released in 1998. It seems the political climate today has made others think of it too. It has been posted on Facebook by friends in the past couple of weeks.
- “And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the doors
- They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore
- God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
- ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose
- Then you really might know what it’s like [x4]
Can we walk a mile in a client’s shoes? Yes, we can. We can try to understand their situation and reassure them any reason is enough. Their decision is the right one for them. Most of us cannot improve their financial conditions, but we can empathize with their realities.
Another song that has been going through my mind is Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” The thing that is frightening to me is the song was written in 1964 and is still relevant. There is a clever PSA to Romney that has been going viral. Watch the video and sing along.
Personally, I do not want a ride on the Wayback Machine. I do not want to go back to the 1950s or earlier. I want equality for all people. I want shame and stigma removed from healthcare decisions.
I want…I want… Does anyone know of magic wish-granting dust laying around?