Thanks to Maya at Feministing, I now know that today is Giving Tuesday. Maya shared her reasons for giving to abortion access groups and inspired me to talk about why I give. So here goes…
I give because I can.
And I give to NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Network of Abortion Funds because access to reproductive health care is a big fucking deal and too many women are losing that access because of systems of inequality in our lives.
If this is your first time reading the blog, I feel like I should give you the quick and dirty of my background. I’m white, middle class, cisgendered, and educated – especially when it comes to issues of access to reproductive health care. In short, I get to carry a freakin’ Prada backpack of privilege around with me wherever I go.
A few months ago, me and my knapsack o’privilege made an appointment at the Planned Parenthood in downtown Boston for routine STI testing. In addition to being a vocal proponent of routine STI testing, I had just capped off a week of lecture on access to birth control and abortion in light of Supreme Court decisions and figured that I might as well practice what I preach.
On the Saturday in question, I bop over to the PP center, park my car, grab a coffee, and meander on down the street blithely oblivious to my surroundings. As I walk towards PP, I notice a bunch of people outside. I think to myself someone must be selling Girl Scout Cookies.
Seriously. This is my exact thought at this moment.
It wasn’t girl scout cookies. In fact, all of those people who I assumed were queuing up for cookies are pro-life protesters.
They have signs. They are yelling. Granted, they are not yelling at any particular person but they are still there.
I pause at the corner of the street and think about calling the police.
I pull out my phone to google “Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone”.
I frown at the protesters.
Two women in neon yellow vests are standing in front of the protesters. I walk towards them, they escort me in.
After I hand off my giant purse and jewelry to the security guard, I start to shake. I’m mad at myself for being hesitant. I’m mad at the protesters for breaking the 35 foot buffer zone law. I’m suddenly feeling very slut-shamed for even wanting to get tested. I start to worry whether anyone saw me walking into the center – do they think I need an abortion? I start to worry about my worrying about people thinking I’m having an abortion – what does that say about society’s view of abortion? About me and the way I let society influence my thoughts?
I set off the metal detector with my giant watch.The security guard and I laugh.
The appointment itself is uneventful. I hand over my health insurance information which I’m lucky to be able to afford, speak with a doctor and nurse who look just like me, pocket all of the free condoms, and go on my way.
When I leave, the protesters are gone but all those feelings aren’t. I’m completely shaken by the experience and if I’m shaken, I can’t imagine what people who don’t have my shield of privilege must have felt like this morning.
How many women didn’t show up for their appointments because they were afraid the protesters would harm them? Or shame them? Or recognize them?
How many women left their appointments when asked for health insurance information because they didn’t have any? How many women didn’t bother to make an appointment because they knew they couldn’t afford the care?
How many women sat in the exam room unable to communicate with their doctor or nurse because they didn’t speak the same language? Or failed to share important information because of a cultural barrier?
I get it. Throwing money at a problem this vast, with so many intersecting issues, isn’t the whole answer, but it’s part of it.
So to help those who can work at coming up with answers, I donate.
To NARAL, so they can lobby Congress to support women’s right to choose.
To Planned Parenthood, so they can continue to provide a wide range of health services, including routine screenings for breast cancer and STI testing.
And to the National Network of Abortion Funds, so they can help fund abortions for women in need who cannot afford one.