I Make it Rain (Mostly on Abortion Access Non-Profits)

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?

My artistic rendering of me and 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.

32 thoughts on “I Make it Rain (Mostly on Abortion Access Non-Profits)

  1. I didn’t even know there was a buffer zone. I was driving by the local women’s clinic in my area (Indianapolis) this weekend and I noticed a lot of anti-choice protestors. It’s motivated me to look into becoming an escort. Great piece!

  2. I’ve often wondered how I would feel if I ever had to use PP’s services. Like you, I have a “Prada backpack of privilege,” and I am painfully aware of my advantages. We have included PP in our annual donation budget. I was unaware of these other organizations, so thanks for sharing the info.

  3. This is a very powerful post! Isn’t amazing what shame and intimidation can do to someone who, as you say, has a “Prada backpack of privilege” (great metaphor, btw). The toolkit of the bully is very effective and we can surprise ourselves with our reaction to it – don’t beat yourself up too much. Congratulations on FP!

  4. Very well written piece. Sanity is severely underrated in our society, but it is very effective. Great to see that you chose to present your thoughts in a respectful way. Now if only the protestors could also express their thoughts in a more sane way, we would all be more benefited. But then, we would also have more sane leaders in Congress!!

  5. Great post.

    I admire your restraint in that moment of confrontation — those protestors make me NOT ashamed but rage-blinded furious at their intrusion into women’s PRIVATE health decisions. I grew up in Canada (to age 30), now in NY, and in Toronto I used PP with none of this right-wing bullshit. It literally makes my blood boil that self-righteous *&%@!&)s think they can (and likely do — if they can scare you, for heaven’s sake) intimidate women away from the choices we make, and must continue to be able to make, for ourselves.

  6. What a great post, with a lot of food for thought. I tend to take PP for granted because I, too, live with a Prada backpack of privilege. I’ve used PP for routine exams and screenings and, while a college student in Bloomington, Indiana 10 or so years ago, I never encountered any of this. It’s so sad/alarming that, 10 years later, we live in a social/political/cultural climate where women all over the country are fighting for basic access to health care.

    I, too, support PP, and you’re post has me thinking that I ought to do so more.

  7. Pingback: Sunshine Award: A Sense Of Community And Fun With A Little Bit Of Circle Jerking Thrown In. « Project Sara

  8. Won´t lie; I opened this post because of the 10 Things I Hate About You still-but thoughtful writing. Makes me wonder why people don’t worry more about trying to present their viewpoint in a way others can understand instead of focusing solely on immediate outcome (less abortions), in this case by intimidation and shaming.

  9. I know the feeling you described as I recently took a dear lady to a PP to get an abortion and there were people outside, praying for us. It was very uncomfortable. We were both filled with terror, along with the self-loathing and fear for such a difficult decision. Although it was entirely necessary, it haunted me for weeks and I cried a great deal. It wasn’t a judgment cry, just a cry for loss, and for feeling ashamed. She had no health insurance and together we pulled together the several hundred dollars it cost her. A very harrowing and painful experience for both of us, but I still am thankful we have the freedom to be in charge of our own bodies.

  10. Love this post. I wanted to point out that you said pro choice protesters.. I wondered if you meant to say pro life? Keep doing what you’re doing. We need more people like you.

    • “Choice” got me thinking. Back in the seventies I was a member of ARAG (Abortion Reform Action Group) in South Africa. We stood for abortion on request (not demand). The way I see it, we all need to make our own decisions, but always informed decisions. There are better qualified people who can also advise and guide us on what is better for us and the unborn baby. Abortion should never become the preferred method of birth control.

  11. It’s said we live in an “advanced” country and yet women are having to fight for basic affordable health care and to keep open the few places that provide it. I really have been amazed at all the protests over President Obama’s bill for women’s health care to be included in insurance. Well done on going through with going to PP. I’ve used them for years and they offer a great service to everyone. Thanks for sharing on the other sites, I’ll check them out. Congrats on making Freshly Pressed.

  12. Great Post. Great causes you support. I’m totally there with you. It’s totally crazy to me to withold information, options and services for women. You may not agree with the choice a women may make, but its nonsensical and totally backwards to deny her the rights/options/hell even just the information and support needed to make an informed choice, whatever that may be.

  13. This is a great post. It really opens the reader up to the whole “behind the scenes” area of these situations that many people will never have to witness, and turns “donate, what do they need money for?!” to actually knowing where donations will go and why these foundations are still in so much need.
    Very well written, a real eye-opener, Thank you for sharing.

  14. I had the exact same experience at that exact same PP three years ago. I am fortunate enough to have been taught to be a strong, independent, educated young woman who stands up for her right to reproductive health care, no matter what that may entail. The day that I encountered the barrier, I was outraged throughout most of my appointment. By the time I left, the crowd had thinned to one old man with an “abortion is wrong” type sign. I snapped. I yelled at him. Dropped a hard f-bomb, and exclaimed “how dare you?” As I marched purposefully toward my T-stop. My local PP is now in Vermont, and I’m glad to report that I’ve encountered no barriers there. I try to remind myself that even when there is no angry mob in front of me, they are still out there, negatively effecting people’s reproductive rights everywhere. Fight for what’s right.

  15. I want to start by being up front: I am pro-life. That being said, I would have stopped my car right in the middle of the street to give those protesters a piece of my mind. Most pro-lifers, as I do, use religion as the basis for their decision on the matter of abortion. But if they were truly acting the gospel they would not be shouting, hating, shaming and hurting our fellow sisters. The women who go to these clinics go for a variety of reasons, as you pointed out, and deserve to be able to see a healthcare provider in peace and safety. If they are there for an abortion, they don’t deserve more hate. There are a variety of reasons a woman may chose that option, and it’s just that, her choice. I don’t have to agree with it, but that gives me no right to be hateful to her for making it. Christ called us to love each other and guide each other in the ways of the Lord. I can’t think of anything less Christ-like than hating, and hurting each other because of a difference of opinion and beliefs. It makes me so angry that we, as Christians, seem to forget that we are not perfect, that Christ loved even the most desperate of sinners and that he called us to do the same. I am truly sorry for your experience and for that of the many women day in and day out that have to go through something like this because of someone else’s choice to choose hate instead of love.

  16. Pingback: I Make it Rain (Mostly on Abortion Access Non-Profits) « foreverfromnow

  17. I too shake a bit as I read this. The need to fight for what’s right is rooted deep within me. The disadvantages faced by women in society until now motivates my work. At the same time, I cannot uphold a person’s rights at the expense of another, and an even more defenseless one at that. I work for women’s rights and I protest against killing babies, which is what abortion ultimately is. It’s not a matter of ideology. It’s a matter of doing what’s right: if what I initially consider to be the solution to a critical problem proves to be a violation of another person’s life and/or rights, then I must look for another solution – one that respects the rights of both sides. It doesn’t matter if a society doesn’t legally recognize a human fetus as a person – he/she is still a person who also deserves respect and protection. I write in peace. It helps me to read other people’s perspectives so as to seek points for dialogue. Reading this post helped me. I hope what I just wrote has helped even a tiny bit.

  18. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! This is a great post–both about the protesters and about privilege. I really liked the part “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?” You’ve highlighted a lot of the barriers and what we can do to help. And thank goodness for the escorts and security–hopefully someday we won’t need escorts to ensure our safety at a doctor’s office.

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  21. THANKS FOR “GETTING” WHAT PRIVILEGE IS!!!!! And reminding me that I, too, share many of your privileges. It is so disconcerting to think about all of those women you listed who would not have made it to PP for the reasons you present, which all speak to their not possessing the privilege of ACCESS. I try really hard to wrap my brain around the many groups who believe it morally right to block these women’s access to their reproductive rights. You are dead on: the organizations that provide abortion options for women who are uneducated (and often, uninsured as result), under-employeed, lacking cultural capital and/or familiarity NEED the privileged to step up. Thanks for the reminder!

  22. Those were anti-abortion protesters. You know, the ones who vote Republican and don’t care if already-born people starve in the gutter.

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