I apologize to readers who have worried about us, who have wondered if something happened to us. We're both ok and just needed to take care of our kids, our parents, our staff, our patients and sometimes that does not leave time to write. I do, however, try to keep in mind that our readers do want to hear from us when we are able to post. Working at the clinic, the women's stories are there every day and I wish I could share more of them with you. There are also other online writings that I would like to share with you. For example, if you are not aware of RHreality.org, do check it out. There's a piece in response to an alternet posting on men and abortion, which is a topic that I would like to write about here some day. Most of the men I meet at the clinic are supportive, want to help, and have been involved in the decision making. So we try our best to honor our patients' requests to have their partners as involved as possible each step of the way.
I want to tell you about a young woman I saw today. She had been to the clinic last week but because her mother had not completed state requirements, they were re-scheduled. Another counselor first began talking to this 16 year old but felt that they were not going to make a connection because of what seemed to be anger coming from the young woman's words, body posture and general attitude. When the counselor asked me to start over with the young woman I immediately agreed because I enjoy talking to teens. Many of them come into the clinic feeling as though nobody is listening to them, their feelings, their fears, their dreams. So I just listen. And that is exactly what I did today. This woman, whom I'll call Jody, was exhibiting fierce anger so that is where we started. I asked her if she was angry and she said, "I'm always angry. I've been in anger management groups, schools, classes since I was a little kid and now I have my own therapist because I"m still angry". So I asked her if she was mad at us, mad at her mom, mad in general or was mad because she was having an abortion or what. She pretty much said she was mad at everyone including us because we were "taking too long" and she "just wanted to get it over with". I apologized to her but told her that we could not move quickly on something so important. As I told her, this is a big deal and we do not want to make a mistake. We need to be sure that you are choosing abortion of your own free will. I take my job very seriously. I do not want to send you or anyone else back to surgery if there is any chance that you will wake up tomorrow and say, "Oh my God, I made a mistake". This is too big a deal to "just get it over with". I then asked Jody to help me out, to help me to know what she really wanted, what was just her usual anger and what was any uncertainty about going forward. Eventually Jody began to see that I was serious about finding out more about her, whom she had in her life that she could really talk to, who really listened to her. She does have a sister whom she trusts but says that most other people in her life have let her down, abandoned her or betrayed her.
As we continued talking, I began to believe that she was indeed telling me that abortion was her own choice. She just did not know how to handle strong feelings without the anger to cover up her fears, her concerns about the baby. So I answered all of her questions. All of a sudden, I could see a change in her posture and her demeanor. Jody started telling me that she wanted to learn to manage her anger better because she wanted to be a nurse practitioner! She wanted to help people get well (just as she wanted to get well). So I accepted her request to have the abortion and we shook hands on it. Later, I told her to call me when she has a day off school and I would invite her to see what a nurse practitioner really does. We would permit her to take a pledge of confidentiality and shadow the NP for a few hours. I felt that we had made as good a contact as we could make that morning, but I realize that Jody has a long way to go on her "anger management".