On an afternoon walk with my best friend, we saw a group of people protesting near her workplace. When I asked her what was going on, she said, “That’s the Hope Clinic for Women.” I knew it was an abortion clinic; I had brought a friend there once. But I had never heard the protesters telling men and women entering the clinic they would burn in hell.
There was even a sign showing a woman lying naked on an examining table, bruised from head to toe. It hurt me to look at it. I thought, “Come on now, really! How disrespectful”—especially if you claim to be concerned about women.
So that’s when my life changed. That day, I had been out dropping off résumés and looking for a new job. I had worked as a certified nursing or medical assistant in many different settings. I knew what I wanted to do: helping and caring for people. But I was lost and unfulfilled, and hated to go to work.
I walked right through those anti-choice protesters and gave them my résumé.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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Today, I am a proud abortion provider. My first day at the clinic, I knew it was where I wanted to be. All the employees introduced themselves, smiled, and asked about my family. I felt truly welcomed.
I observed and watched patients coming in. Some were physically shaking and crying, angry, or agitated from all that judgmental nonsense being screamed at them. My new co-workers calmed those same patients down with kindness and reason. I knew this was different and more important than any other job I have ever had.
Though anti-choice activists try to say that abortion providers don’t care about women, babies, or families, I consider my co-workers an extended family. When so many Americans dislike their jobs, I love coming to work every day, even on Saturdays. Seeing the most helpful, fun, and loving people every day doesn’t seem like work. We work together—not just in the same place, but collaboratively and with the greater purpose of helping women in need.
I am lucky to have been empowered by so many people in this movement, especially my colleagues in the Abortion Care Network. I was chosen for a program called Uniting Our Voices, which helps train advocates to communicate with media. This group gave me the tools and courage to step out of my box, though it didn’t feel like that at first. I knew no one at the meeting, and I was very much out of my comfort zone.
I remember telling two other people in the program that “I am just a medical assistant, I think they chose the wrong person.” I didn’t realize they were board members. They stopped me right there and said, “No, we chose you because you are a medical assistant.”
This group helped me realize I am not just a medical assistant. I am an advocate for all women. I can help our patients with my voice, but also others who have not had to make the choice to have an abortion and those who have made that choice before.
Our patients endure a tremendous amount of stress just to walk in our door. They are targeted by awful, mean anti-choice protesters. When they come into our clinic, we know something of what they are going through—and respect the choice they’ve made with family, friends, genetic counselors, physicians, or just by themselves.
I share words of support, love, and laughter with our clients. Yes, that’s possible in an abortion clinic. Actually, I think it’s essential. We try to make this long process of paperwork, counseling, and lab tests a more enjoyable experience. I can honestly say these women support me just as I support them.
I come to work knowing that abortion providers do amazing work. We don’t just perform medical services. We help many people achieve goals, follow dreams, and stay true to self. I can’t imagine doing anything else.