Visible and Invisible Barriers

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
  • [CHORUS]
  • 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?

7 thoughts on “Visible and Invisible Barriers

  1. Hi!
    I’ve been a reader of your blog for at least 2 years. What I think is so terrible about all this “rape” talk, is that I’m not hearing condemnation for the act of rape, and what these asshat politicians are going to do about it. It’s like the crime is totally glossed over.

    Please keep doing what you are doing. You are doing good for your community.

    • Amy,

      You are right. The crime isn’t discussed, only what will be “approved” in cases of pregnancy resulting from the crime. Very frustrating. Your kind words about our blog are appreciated.

      Thank you,

  2. The only peace and reassurance I find post-abortion is reading your blog. I’ve been a follower since October 13. Your Escort services are SO very important. That walk- from the car to the clinic doors- is the longest walk I’ve ever taken. Without one of you by my side, who knows where I’d be mentally and emotionally now. Having that caring person, that reassurance that my choice is MY choice, helped to wipe away some of the shame the protestors try to burn into the brains of women who come to the clinic. I really liked your posting that part of What It’s Like. That song has always been in whatever device I have had, and you just made that light bulb go off that it now hits home even more than ever. Thank you all SO SO SO SO SO much for being there. Thank you for your blog.

    • Lost1,

      Your words mean so much to all of the escorts. We try to make the trip easier and it is always nice to hear we can make a difference. I have to tell you, I cried the first time I heard “What It’s Like.” Mostly my reaction was gratitude that someone gets it and put it into words and song. It really hit home for me. It is nice to hear our blog helps you too.

      Thank you for your input,

      • Agreed. The hardest part about this is you can’t talk about it. It’s too dangerous because someone might target you or your family for violence. Nobody cares what you went through or why. They don’t even ask. You might have had a reason that they agree with…Many pro-lifers have personal exceptions to their moral rules such as rape, incest, or life of the mother. But they never verify that much (not like it’s their business why, as you succinctly pointed out). I’m thankful for the internet now because more and more sites are popping up where people can anonymously tell their stories, like .

      • Longtail,

        We hear the antis say the same things to all of the clients every day. If a client tries to explain their reasons to the anti, they are still met with hurtful words and shaming. The “I’m Not Sorry” blog site is a safe place to share stories. It’s one we have linked on our blog roll for a long time. There have been other sites that have popped up in the last couple of years too, thankfully. The organizations Backline and Exhale, linked on our Reproductive Services page, offer non-judgmental, anonymous counseling before and after an abortion. Sometimes just a conversation with a stranger can start the healing from the stigma. I still want that magic dust.

        Thank you,

    • I highly encourage you to check out Exhale if you feel the need to talk it out, they are great!

      1-866-4 EXHALE

      Monday – Friday:
      5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Pacific
      Saturday – Sunday:
      12 p.m. – 10 p.m. Pacific

      Exhale serves women who have abortions, and their partners, friends and family. They respect the cultural, social and religious beliefs of all their callers. All calls are confidential.

      Many women share their experience online to help them cope, some find it helpful to read other women’s accounts and their experiences – Women stories about their decision to terminate their pregnancy and not regret it. My story is up there somewhere, you aren’t alone!

      Other women need/want a ceremony, ritual or shrine – Hold a ceremony celebrating the life of your pregnancy/baby and then say good bye. We had a ceremony where we both wrote letters to the pregnancy, then we burned them so our words would reach her and buried it all. Your ceremony doesn’t have to be anything big or showy, it just has to have meaning to you. We lit candles and seeded the area with wild flowers seeds. My garden has a shrine with pinwheels for remembrance to my miscarriages, abortion and stillbirth, since my daughter is old enough she has flowers she’s planted there also.

      Some women would rather tackle how they feel on paper and try out a workbook. This can be useful to help unravel how you are feeling without seeking counseling.
      A Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Resolution After an Abortion

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