In my last post, I mentioned a particular time when I was walking the gauntlet at the clinic – the rows of pray-ers who line the sidewalk, saying the rosary, singing, and yelling at clients as they come through. It was a couple of years ago now, but the memory is vivid.
As I passed through them ~ men, women, and children ~ I suddenly knew that some of them wanted to hurt me. I felt a visceral awareness of the waves of anger and hatred rolling off some of them, directed toward me. They could easily have become an angry mob, throwing stones at me.
It was strange and oddly chilling. Very powerful. I don’t think about it often, but when I do, I can feel it again.
But the other night, I had an opposite experience.
Really, it started months ago. Servalbear and I were talking about states that just have one clinic and what it would be like if they really do close the last clinic in a state. I said, “What would we do if they closed the clinic here?”
Servalbear looked at me kind of funny, as if she were surprised I’d ask. “We’d drive them to a clinic somewhere else,” she said. “Indianapolis, Cincinnati…”
I thought, “well, duh, we already have a network of people helping with transportation locally. If the clinic closed, instead of escorting, I guess I’d drive people.”
Then Saturday night, I was reading articles from Facebook ~ something I do way too often ~ some for pleasure, some not-so-much. I read this one from The Daily Beast, entitled “Blue States Buck Abortion Trend.” It’s well worth reading.
I already knew that some of the more liberal states have been increasing access to abortion. The article notes that California recognizes that
… one doesn’t need high-level surgical skills to administer a pill or perform a one-minute vacuum-aspiration abortion, lawmakers in the state have passed a bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign, that would allow midwives, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions after taking a training course in how to do them
I knew that, but hadn’t really thought about what it meant. The article points out that:
While the abortion-clinic model of care initially arose to make women’s lives easier as a one-stop shop for a rare procedure, the existence of stand-alone clinics has made them sitting-duck targets for restrictive laws. Part of what “sells” the claim that abortion clinics need to meet ambulatory-surgical-center standards and have hospital-admitting privileges—two regulations that are being used to shut down clinics—is this widespread but utterly false belief that abortion is an intense and dangerous surgery. Allowing a nurse practitioner or a midwife to offer abortion services would drive home the reality that first-trimester abortion really is a relatively minor medical procedure that hardly merits the term “surgery,” especially in cases where it’s just a matter of taking a pill. This move could also help lower the price of an abortion, much in the same way these types of providers offer a bevy of more affordable care.
They go on to say:
In general, the West Coast is trending toward decentralizing abortion and making it as widely available as possible. Oregon has no abortion restrictions—it treats abortion as it should be treated, as just another medical service—and Washington is now requiring all public hospitalsto provide abortions. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t do much to reduce the cost, but the move does help spread the message that there’s nothing about an abortion that requires it to happen only at a specialized abortion clinic.
Then there’s this:
Of course, beefing up access in blue states to make up for the shortfall in red states isn’t enough—not everyone can afford to travel across state lines and not every red state is bordered by a more sexually liberated state. Doctors have been experimenting with one strategy to help for women in far-flung areas: prescribing the abortion pill remotely via phone or Internet and advising the patient on how to use it correctly.
This potential loophole, which would allow women all over the country to get a safe abortion, has anti-choicers in a panic. Eleven states have already passed laws requiring a doctor to be present when a woman takes the abortion pill, a measure clearly designed to keep doctors from using this strategy to help women in need.
And I thought “OH!! THAT’S why they’re passing those laws in the anti-abortion states! No wonder they’re so adamant about it!”
At the same time, I felt a tremendous sense of connectedness with the people across the country who are working to ensure that abortion services are available ~ at least somewhere.
I thought, some of that is just business sense, right? We know that women who are able to will travel great distances to get an abortion if they can’t get one near home. Look at the Irish people, who have to go to England. So if you’re an abortion provider in California or Washington State, and states around you are shutting down access, of course you need to be able to provide for the people who will be crossing state lines seeking help.
But I also had this feeling. It was the opposite of what I felt on the sidewalk, the opposite of the hate rolling off the protesters in waves. It was as if I could see the network of support instead, stretching across state lines, across the country,
I felt the connection, myself as part of that network, providing support however we need to. Affirming each other, supporting access, providing space and opportunity for people to be empowered.
I hate that we need the network. The things that are happening in states that limit access are wrong, and people will suffer because of it. But I’m glad the network of support is there, and being strengthened.
I’m glad I’m part of it.