if someone were creating a TV reality show about abortion, our clinic this past saturday would have been perfect, no additional script needed. there was such a variety of patients, all women seeking an abortion for their own reasons. all different ages and backgounds were represented, including women born in other countries. there were so many women to serve so we were very busy and the patients' day was long. as we tell them, we are sorry that you have to be here so long but more women are seeking abortions than there are doctors trained to do them. however, we do manage; thanks to a highly skilled, stable, compassionate staff, we are mostly able to handle all that arises.
this past saturday included a nearly homeless 15 year old who had to be rescheduled so that we could seek funding for her to have sedation since she was too scared to have the procedure awake. one of her parents died when she was 7, the other a year later. four years after that, the relative who took her in died so this young woman has not had a lot of stability and parental protection in her life. the support person accompanying her was also 15. in another situation, we had been working with the police to collect the tissue for DNA testing since the pregnancy was a result of rape and the police were determined to prosecute even though the young woman did not want the stress of having to testify. two other young women, both under 21, each with three children, had tried to get their tubes tied but were refused because they were underage. so, rather than have a fourth child, each chose abortion.
outside on the sidewalk were nearly 150 protesters, mostly silent in prayer; still, in a crowd that large there are always the pushy, obnoxious, arrogant demonstators. luckily the police came to keep them in line. as you can imagine, we are too busy inside the clinic to pay any attention to the picketers.
our patients included a couple whose baby had severe abnormalities, would never have made it through the pregnancy. they had to schedule quickly or else the woman would have been forced to carry the fetus until it died, and then wait for it to pass on its own. it's so hard for parents of a planned pregnancy to find out that they must move quickly or else the hospital cannot help them. they were so grateful that we were able to fit them in. very grateful and very very sad.
as usual, most of our patients were in their twenties, some were in their thirties or forties; most already have children. nearly every patient brought a support person with them, and most had the support person in the procedure with them.
so who were the other patients and why were they all there that day? one woman is a severe diabetic whose life would be threatened by continuing the pregnancy. she did not want that risk since she has other kids at home who need her. another is a student who was unsure what to do in god's eyes, so she went to talk to her pastor who helped her to see that god knows her heart and that there is always forgiveness. another college student was here because she "wants to be something, be someone" before having a child so that her child will be proud of her. another woman said that she was going to continue the pregnancy, partner was happy but then she started getting more and more depressed and realized that she could not handle parenting yet. another woman says she needs to finish school so she can move out of her drug infested neighborhood, which is a horrible place to live, let alone raise children. she said only with a college degree can she get out. many of our patients that day considered adoption but could not imagine themselves giving a baby away. one woman herself was adopted and told me that being adopted has always haunted her because she does not feel she belongs in her adoptive family. worse, she said that since her own mother gave her away, she always wonders about that too.
there are usually a number of women looking for something different than the way they were raised. another counselor talked to a woman who said that she had to complete her schooling because her mom did not and was trapped in a miserable relationship since she could not support herself. the patient said that all of them suffered and she did not want to repeat that pattern.
a 41 year old woman with 5 kids said that she was done, no matter what, that she was tired, could not start over. she stated that when she was younger, she would never imagined herself feeling that way because she was strongly prolife. but, she said, when you are older, you come to realize that you do have limits, that you can't punish the kids you already have. when there is not enough time, energy, money to go around, all of them suffer.
increasingly an emerging factor that leads to abortion is that the cost of birth control pills has jumped up so high, women who do not have either medical assistance from the government or else private insurance, are having difficulty paying for their birth control pills every month. some pills cost as much as $75 per month. not many women without insurance can afford that much so have stopped taking the pill. they revert to more affordable, but perhaps less effective methods.
while we allow room for the sadness some women and men feel with abortion, we also feel the sense of togetherness that many women develop while they are here. the media leads women who choose abortion to feel that they are a tiny minority, that they should feel terrible about their choice. but knowing that many many others also conclude that abortion is best for their families, for their futures, women can walk out of here with their heads held high. they are ready to deal with whatever emotional or spiritual issues that come up, but can move on with their lives knowing that their abortion was safe, that they did the right thing regardless of what anti abortion protesters might say or think. we value women; we trust them make the wisest decision for their own lives.