With all jobs, there are pros and cons. Abortioneering is no exception. Here’s a list of some potentially negative things to consider if you want to be an Abortioneer.
1. What should you say when people ask you where you work? I believe there is no right or wrong answer to this question, and that you may likely find yourself varying your answer depending on circumstances. Abortion is highly stigmatized. Depending on your geographic location and your own community, you may or may not feel comfortable stating where you work and what exactly your job entails. Check this out. And another.
2. Abortion is riddled with stigma. This impacts LOTS of things (could be multiple blogs in and of itself), including how people respond/react to abortion, which means it will impact you. Be aware of this. Even people you think are liberal may not be pro-choice; people you consider – or consider themselves – to be conservative may be. This might impact the way you talk about your daily life; for example, while an accountant may be able to talk about her day at work to most anyone in a social situation, you may not feel that you can without potentially being harassed (or even violating HIPAA). Here are some previous blog posts about talking to others about your work. This. And this one. And this. And yet another. (You can see we write about this a lot.)
3. Abortioneering can be isolating at times. (I could write several blogs about this topic alone.) Stigma plays into this, causing many abortioneers to feel somewhat guarded about their work lives. In an unhealthy (but probably not-so-uncommon) situation, some abortioneers may even feel a bit cut off from their communities, families, friends and stay safely within Abortioneering circles. (There are many reasons this could easily occur – but they require another post!) It’s up to you to come up with strategies to keep involved in your community. We all need support. Which brings us to…
4. Support. You'll need it. Consider ways to get the support. Having friends, family, and co-workers you can talk to helps immensely. If key family members and friends are not supportive of your decision to become an Abortioneer, you may be in for a bumpy road. Compile strategies on how to deal with this in healthy ways. Abortioneers are amazing people. You’ll probably be drawn to them. You’ll have common interests, they’ll understand what you’re going through, and you can talk about your day with them. They “get it.” And there’s a beautiful community out there waiting for you, filled with passionate, caring people. Still, try to strike a balance between your abortion world friends and your non-abortion world friends so you keep a foot in your own community (even though, it will be strange to navigate this at first). Here are some posts we're written on support, or calling on the need for it. And here.
5. Work for an organization that encourages its employees to support one another. Sounds obvious, but I would try to suss out if they really do support their employees (in the ways their employees want/need). It might be best to know someone you can talk to who works for the organization to see how their organization supports them. It may be more difficult for some employers to breed a culture of support nowadays. In this economy, many clinics and organizations have had to reduce their staff. That means fewer people working harder and smarter. That also means there is less time during work to seek out support from co-workers. I would argue that it would benefit you to find the ones that do their best under the circumstances. (This could mean: happy hours; occasional lunches; debriefing meetings; whatever.) I have a friend who used to work at a clinic and they would write down all the funny things their co-workers said. At a bi-weekly meeting, they’d start off by reading out all the funnies. This helped lift spirits and encourage a spirit of teamwork.
6. Work/life balance. Abortion is intense. Talking to a 13 year old who was raped and now wants an abortion is intense. Many abortioneers are motivated to make a difference in others’ lives. That commonly means you’ll focus on the women you serve throughout your day. This is an absolutely amazing, special, and rewarding part of Abortioneering. It’s where all the magic happens. It can also take its toll if you don’t take care of yourself. Take your lunch. Take your breaks. When things feel especially intense at work, step outside. Go to the restroom and take deep breaths if you have to. You will most likely need ways to decompress after work as well. Try not to take your work home with you. (Literally and figuratively. This is difficult to do.) When I was single, I would go straight home, get a glass of red wine, grab a great book, and soak in the bath. Now that I have children, I decompress in the car, en route to picking them up from school. I blare music, chat with my friends on the phone, nip into a little shop. Whatever. When I get home, I focus on my family and, late in the evening, I make an effort to do something just for me. Here's a post about that.
7. Security. Ever so sadly and infuriating, the safety of the facility where you work, the safety of your doctors, your co-workers, and yourself is at risk. I hate even having to type that. But it is true. Depending on where you live, the risk might be lower. I know a handful of people who have been followed. It’s not uncommon for anti protesters to take photographs of staff. They might even write down your license plate number. US Marshals recommend clinic workers register their cars to a PO Box or to their place of work, not to their homes. It may be disarming to see the doctor wear a bullet proof vest. Depending on where you work – and honestly, at any abortioneering job they should be talking about this – you might be advised to stay alert at all times, walk out of work in pairs (at least), change your route home on a regular basis. This began to impact me more deeply after I had my children. I didn’t want some psycho following me home to my two kids. Consider your safety. Look around at the facility where you’re working: do they take security seriously? If it’s a clinic, there should probably be, at minimum, security cameras, bullet-proof windows, alarm systems, etc. Here are some posts about safety and security. And here. And a last one.
Hopefully these ideas help a bit. Ask away if you have questions! Good luck in your Abortioneering job search. It really is an amazing sector to work in.