There’s a lot to love about yesterday’s Ask an Abortion Provider post over at The Hairpin. Dolores P. illuminates a world that is often invisible even to those of us working in reproductive justice – the how and why of becoming an abortion provider.
It’s no secret that provider numbers are dwindling, and Dolores points out the completely scary fact that there are less than 2,000 abortion providers in the entire U.S.That number brings the issue of access into stark contrast. In addition to continued legislative attacks and limitations, the stigma of abortion, and the financial barriers to access, many women live in areas that have no abortion provider.
But here’s the part that really made my heart flutter:
“I speak of my abortion as a positive experience, not to secure the “most awesome abortion” prize (hello judges…?) but to save a seat for the possibility that this doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life. I don’t want it to in any way represent anyone else’s experience or make them feel disavowed of their own. So let me say: this is my personal experience with abortion! It was positive in every respect. It made me want to help other people also have as positive an experience as possible, so I went into the business. If you think that’s a bullshit line, or it makes you uncomfortable to think about abortion as something that could possibly be positive for a person, think of why you’re a person who doesn’t want someone to do the best that they can under the circumstances they’re in.”
I want to hear more of this in our movement. As the extreme anti-choice, anti-woman attacks keep coming on the state and federal levels, it is crucial that we ‘save a seat’ for abortion in the pantheon of positive choices. I’m fearful that the farther these extreme attacks go, the farther pro-choice rhetoric gets pulled away from the position of justice, love, and respect for women that is our true strength.
Approaching reproductive justice from a position of love and respect for women means that we recognize the varied experiences women have. Certainly, abortion is a difficult and even harrowing choice for some. But for others, abortion is a positive move forward on their journey to being the person, the partner, or the mother they want to become. If we ignore the positive experiences of those women, we’re adding to the stigma of abortion. To put it simply, although no woman wants an abortion, not every abortion is a tragedy.
I hope that there will come a day in my lifetime that abortion is an integrated part of medical care for women. I hope that my daughters will consider the idea of having to gather funds and travel hours for an abortion just as strange as I would find the idea that doctors at my hospital might refuse (or not even be trained) to give me an appendectomy if I needed one. A vital step toward that hope is training and empowering providers.
We need more abortion providers, and we need more abortion providers like Dolores. I hope her shared experiences inspires future doctors.