I spent two years as a paid employee at an abortion clinic. I regularly worked six days a week and often over 50 hours. There was a conscious awareness among my co-workers and I that our lives revolved around abortion even when we weren’t spending early mornings, long days, and late nights at the clinic. We constantly discussed that even when we were not at the clinic we chose to spend our time with co-workers. I’ve seen this trend among many abortioneers; we tend to flock together in our free time even after long work weeks. This is partly due to the fact that we all have a lot in common because we work in abortion (so we naturally click on things like feminism, social justice, politics, etc). I also think it is because we are like a group of soldiers serving in this war we wage (reproductive access for all!), and the best way to process our PTSD is together.
As we found ourselves spending all this extracurricular time together there was an acknowledgment that maybe it wasn’t the healthiest approach to our free time. Didn’t we need time “away” from abortion? Shouldn’t we separate our work and home life? Wasn’t it important to have other interests, hobbies, and passions besides abortion? Most importantly, didn’t we need actual time away from abortion so that we would be refreshed and renewed when we returned to our next work day?
I always tried to keep abortion at the clinic. It certainly wasn’t easy and I didn’t always succeed. I can remember countless nights out with coworkers where we always came back to a story from that week or something going on in the news about reproductive health. Ultimately my own apartment was the one refuge where I could exist without being around coworkers who would tempt me into discussing abortion.
Since starting graduate school, the only interaction I have with abortion (besides blogging, obvi) is in my home. Quite the 180! Just to refresh the readers: I volunteer for an organization that provides free housing for women who stay overnight in my city and cannot afford a hotel/motel/etc. Women most often stay overnight because they are having a multiple day abortion and have travelled from far distances. I have been hosting women (and sometimes their friends/families) for a year now and I absolutely cherish the chance to provide them with a safe and free place to spend the night when they need it most.
While I love the opportunity to host women, every time I host I am opening my home up to the unknown. I am directly confronted with abortion in my personal safe haven. I recognize how vulnerable I am by bringing women into my self-created refuge. Most women are scared and alone and vulnerable themselves and I risk my own emotional well-being every time I answer that call from our Phone Coordinator telling me that a woman needs a place to stay for a night or two.
I literally have brought abortion home. Into my serenity, my peace, my den of cleanliness and order. I have had sleepless nights--when a Haven guest snored so loud my dog kept checking on her to make sure she was ok, and when the support person of a guest spent the entire night on her cell phone trying to reach her son who had just been arrested. I spent hours helping a Canadian guest figure out how to get a hold of her boyfriend with international calling codes. I have had discussions with guests about abortion, birth control, heating pads, and post-abortion medications—mini counseling sessions taking place in my very own living room.
I think about how abortion is now a part of the most personal and private arena of my life. I can’t leave the clinic or say goodbye to coworkers at a happy hour and escape abortion by heading home. My home has welcomed abortion.