thejunipertree: (Default)
It's March 10th and I didn't even realize it, as wrapped up in my own petty machinations and day to day as I have been. Every year, I always try to say something to any of the staff I can get a hold of, let them know the work they do is necessary and appreciated (even if it rarely feels that way). This year, I just plain forgot. Too much on my mind, not enough room to kick around in. It's become a pattern of mine, as familiar to my eyes as my own fingers and hands.

Regardless, March 10th remains an important date. On this date, in 1993, Dr. David Gunn, the only practicing abortion provider in a poor and rural community- hell, the only OB/GYN in that community period- was assassinated by a single gunman who shot him three times in the back as Dr. Gunn was attempting to enter a clinic in Pensacola. Dr. Gunn was the first casualty in a startlingly long and distressing list detailing the violence perpetrated against abortion providers and their staff.

Obviously, as I was only just out of high school when it happened and had never even heard of my current employer, I never met or spoke to Dr. Gunn. But, his presence is felt within this office every single day. I work with doctors who traveled to Pensacola after Dr. Gunn's murder so that patients could still be seen; one of these physicians still travels there every week. He was a good man, a dedicated physician who himself traveled to a variety of locations that strike fear in the heart of abortion providers: Tallashassee, Birmingham, Savannah, Mobile. All areas that are not exactly known for their friendliness to those involved in the struggle to keep women's reproductive rights legal and widely available.

I've never traveled to the South in line with my work, but I have gone to other areas where it was made quite clear that I and my co-workers were not welcome. Erie, Pennsylvania sticks out the most in my mind because the anti-choice organization that set up shop down the hall from our suite were some of the creepiest people I've ever come across. Never a word to our faces, just watching. They wrote down the license plate number to the rental car we were in, they stared at me as I took cigarette breaks, every time any of us left our suite- they stood out in the common hallway and watched what we were doing. Fantastically unsettling. I didn't sleep easy that night in my rented room at the Microtel and I left that town looking over my shoulder.

My employer's home office, the one I work directly out of, is in a town that seems to have no idea we are here. There are two other providers in this general area and they are usually teeming with protestors on various days, but we really only get them on Saturday mornings. If it's nice out. A small handful of little old ladies will set up camp in their lawn chairs on the other side of the sidewalk to pray the rosary and not even look up at the cars driving by or pulling into the parking lot. Occasionally, we have a middle-aged man who walks up and down the main road with a fairly innoculous sign. It's quiet. We have grown forgetful of the past horrors; we are complacent and make jokes. It's so easy to forget when it's not in your face every day.

I'm not completely mindless. When I go out for cigarette breaks, I am constantly aware of my surroundings and who is in the parking lot. When I walk to my car at night by myself, I take all the necessary precautions. I don't let people into the building when the main door is locked, if I don't know who they are. I don't give out names or addresses over the phone. I hesitate briefly before I get into my car, to make a quick sweep with my eyes, and lock the door as soon as I'm inside. But really, those are the types of things any woman leaving work at night by herself should be doing. It's not special to my own circumstances, which is a scary fact all on its own.

But for Dr. Gunn, Dr. Tiller, their support staff, and even the staff in some of our other locations that are hit much harder than we are, this was and is a very real fact that must be contended with on a daily basis. I tend to allow myself to get swept up with the grind of working, annoyed by the constant drama that comes along with working in HR, that I frequently don't stop to think about those who came before and those I work with who bear more of the load's brunt than I do.

Without them, none of this would be possible.

And for that, I appreciate the hell out of them.
thejunipertree: (Default)
The Director of Patient Support Services where I work posts articles on a bulletin board in our lunch room once in awhile that she thinks are good for the staff to read. The most recent one is about Dr. Hern in Boulder, CO. He's the last doctor in the United States who will perform late trimester abortions since the murder of Dr. George Tiller.

It's an extremely eye-opening article, which may be found here.

I didn't say much online in response to Dr. Tiller's murder. In meatspace, I wouldn't shut the hell up about it, but online- I just couldn't muster the energy. It was extremely close to home for me and I was saddened, sickened, and a host of other emotions. I wrote something up in a community in response to some abortion!wank, but that's about it.

For those who care, what I wrote is behind the cut.

Dr. George Tiller )
thejunipertree: (Default)
I find it astonishing and disheartening that in my office, the only two people who made mention of what today was were me and our Communications Coordinator, Steffy (who is all sorts of awesome). This would not have been the case a year ago and that is extremely disappointing. Therefore, I'm going in the steps of [livejournal.com profile] vivaemptiness and [livejournal.com profile] jennifer0246:

I vote pro-choice because women are not brood mares.

I vote pro-choice because no woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy when they do not want to bring a child into this world, regardless of their reasons or if the pregnancy will lead to adoption.

I vote pro-choice because women should not be told, "well, you shouldn't have spread your legs."

I vote pro-choice because a child should never be a punishment.

I vote pro-choice because every child should be a wanted child.

I vote pro-choice because I do not want anyone else making decisions about what I'm going to do with my body.

I vote pro-choice because abstinence-only education obviously does not work.

I vote pro-choice because not every woman should be or wants to be a mother.

I vote pro-choice because this society should never return to the world of back alley procedures that usually ended in gangrene, perforated uteruses, sterility, or death.

I vote pro-choice because no birth control is 100%.

I vote pro-choice because a fetus does not have more rights than I do.

I vote pro-choice because the idea of "once you see the baby's face, everything willl change and you will fall in love!" is a complete and utter myth.

I vote pro-choice because there are still states in this country that are doing everything within their power to make it more difficult for a woman to have an abortion.

I vote pro-choice because I can't stand it when people say, "I'm only pro-choice as long as abortion isn't being used as birth control."

I vote pro-choice because every day, I see the faces of women who choose abortion and hear their stories. Where would they go if they didn't have this choice?

I vote pro-choice because women are still forced, intimidated, and coerced into having sex.

I vote pro-choice because we do not live in a theocracy.

I vote pro-choice because when I was sixteen years old, my eldest brother said to my mother, "I'm surprised she's not knocked up like you were when you were her age."
thejunipertree: (Default)
Ok, even I have my short-comings when it comes to being strong-stomached. I can handle a lot of things, most of them things that your average girl would run screaming from. But, the things that tend to make me gag and shrink away are usually pretty freaking bad.

That being said, this past weekend, I had travelled to Erie for my job. Many of you already know this. I was to go up there, recruit an entire staff because we fired every last one of those useless tits, and help out with seeing patients. I was unaware that the "help out with seeing patients" part of the show was going to involve me performing what we call "doing room".

I'll be nice and cut the rest of the entry, in case you're squeamish. Trust me, don't read the rest if'n you have a weak stomach or are weird about abortion. )
thejunipertree: (Default)
Women misled about abortion risks?
No shit, pal.

HA HA.

I hate those so-called 'pregnancy resource centers'. There's one in the same building as one of our offices. It's run by nuns. And it's sole purpose for being there is to trick our patients into thinking they're associated with us, then badger/intimidate our patients into cancelling their appointment. They stand up at the top of the steps and when they see one of the patients coming in, ask them if they're there for an ultrasound. The patients, not knowing any better, tell them yes and then they're brought into a room and given all manner of graphic anti-abortion literature and told they're going to go to hell for killing their baby. It's gotten to the point now where we tell the patients beforehand, when we're making their appointment over the telephone, about the nuns and to watch out for them.

These women usually have it hard enough, making this decision and actually going through with it, they don't need anybody else berating them.

Yesterday, I almost got into it with one of the people who come to the building I work in (we're a multi-tenant building) for drug counselling. Everytime a patient and her support person (usually a boyfriend) would come out of the building, he would start talking very loudly about how we kill babies in this building and that's against everything he stands for and how he hopes the next couple who comes out of the building goes home and kills themselves.

This is the second time I've witnessed him do this and to be quite honest, this guy scares me. Normally, I don't take any shit from people like that and I launch into a verbal tirade. But, this guy? He looked like a tweaker and if there's one thing in life that I've learned, it's to not mess with crystal meth-heads. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I started to get the adrenaline shakes, which is generally Nature's way of telling me DO NOT SPEAK.

So, I went inside with Joanna and got a pen. Went out into the hallway and studied him through the window. Wrote down every single little detail about him and his truck. Today, I'm going up to the counselling office and speaking with their manager about this because it is not acceptable.

I would have done it yesterday, but Joanna had come into work wearing a I <3 ABORTION t-shirt. And we didn't think that would be completely appropriate.
thejunipertree: (Default)
A lot of people have been asking me how I feel about the passing around of this, which is the Molly blog detailing how to perform a D&C procedure. I originally saw it on [livejournal.com profile] wtf_inc (I think the post has since been deleted). And honestly? I'm a bit torn about what how I feel about this.

On one hand, yes, I agree with the information being passed around, in the event that it is needed. However, what is being passed around is not a complete manual, by any means. One would need significantly more items and medical equipment to safely perform a surgical abortion.

You may notice my emphasis was on safety. Certainly, an untrained amateur could use these directions to abort, but there are so many more things involved, so many things that aren't even spoken of in the manual. It's mind-boggling.

For instance, there is not a single mention of administering Rhogam to the woman. What if she is RH negative? She needs to have Rhogam shots, not having them puts the lives of any future pregnancies quite on the line.

Secondly, how are these amateur abortionists concluding gestational age of the pregnancy without an ultrasound? Yes, gestation can be figured out through use of a pregnancy wheel (using the first day of one's last menstrual period can give an indication of when the probable date of conception was, thusly indicating the gestational or menstrual age of the pregnancy). However, that's not always an accurate way of doing it. One's menstrual cycles could be irregular, which throws the whole thing off. An ultrasound, while still not an exact science and is only accurate give or take a week, gives a far better idea of how far along the pregnancy is, if there's anything wrong with the fetus that the abortion provider needs to know, etc.

Furthermore, what happens if the person performing the abortion perforates the woman's bowels, her uterus, or anything else? And how exactly is an untrained person to tell the difference between 'acceptable amounts of bleeding' and hemorrhaging?

This manual makes it out to seem like this is a perfectly safe procedure with absolutely no risks involved, that anybody could perform one. It even talks about the Jane organization in the 60s and 70s as an example of untrained people performing these procedures. Sure, the Jane organization only lost one patient out of thirteen thousand, but what were the statistics on non-fatal incidents? This is performing a surgical procedure on something that one, ultimately, can not see and need far more than a 'good grasp of the female anatomy' to safely perform.

There are so many more factors that should be taken into consideration that this Molly woman doesn't even mention in her writing. Things that women should know about the procedure they may get, things that the people performing the procedure should know. I don't trust it, the idea that anyone with access to the instruments listed and a good grasp of female anatomy is perfectly capable of performing this surgery. And it is a surgery, no matter how minor one may think it is. Performing a medical abortion (like with methotrexate and misoprostal) is far safer for someone untrained because at least then, in the event of a complication, the patient can go to the ER and be treated under the guise of having a miscarriage. In the event of abortion becoming restricted, patients undergoing illegal surgical abortions will not have that at their disposal if something goes wrong.

I agree that something needs to be in place to protect our rights to abortion should anything dire happen to the laws currently in place (however, contrary to popular belief, if Roe V. Wade is overturned, abortion will not suddenly become illegal everywhere in the US, it will only revert to the individual states' decisions in which many of them held it to be perfectly legal). But, I don't think this is the way to do it. I believe that abortion, above all other things, needs to be safe. The procedure, as detailed in this manual, is not safe. There is already the risk of complications if performed by a trained professional, but the likelihood of complications arising is increased several times over, if performed by someone untrained or unfamiliar with what they're doing.

My distaste for this is obviously not a case of someone being against abortion in general. As any of my friends know, I am adamantly pro-choice and have been working for an abortion provider for the past two years. I have personally helped hundreds of women to get abortions and have even almost been fired quite a few times (and also been at risk for being fired, if I'd been found out) for the lengths I have gone to in helping patients (referring women to other clinics is basically frowned on, I have no problems with doing it, especially if they are unable to use our services because we don't accept their insurance or unable to reach one of our offices). I want women to have access to this, but this is not the way of doing it, passing out some half-assed pamphlet online that anyone can read and convince themselves they're competant enough to carry out the instructions.

I'd be more inclined to support this undertaking if it were being done properly and written by a medical professional, one who details all the risks involved and goes more into the safety precautions necessary. Not written by an individual who seems to think anyone could perform an abortion (and by the way, this information isn't something that's been kept from women for decades in an attempt to keep them ignorant. It's been freely accessible, in medical texts) and who is apparently using information that is thirty years out of date.

This is a procedure that needs to be performed by someone trained and qualified. We haven't been out of the back alleys for all that long a time, passing off information such as this manual as safe isn't going to do us any favours.
thejunipertree: (Default)
The other day, I was outside smoking a cigarette with one of my co-workers and she offered to give me a tour of the medical office upstairs. You see, the company I work for has about thirteen offices all over the east coast. One of them is in the same building as the administrative office, which is where I am currently working.

When I had been hired, I was only given the twenty-five cent tour. "This is the lunchroom, this is the reception area, this is the medical office's front desk." But, I had never been brought into the back to see any of the procedure rooms or get to see any of the instruments.

My co-worker usually works in the administrative portion of this company, but every Wednesday, she works upstairs in the medical office during what we call session. Session is when we actively see patients for abortion procedures, among other things.

On this particular day, session had just ended and all patients were gone from the premises and we thought this would be a fabulous time for me to get the full monty.

Jo-Jo, my co-worker, took me upstairs. First, she showed me the procedure that she normally works in. It's quite tiny, the second procedure room is much larger. The instruments were all taken out and cooed over (O, curette, how I love thee) and the vacuum aspirator was demonstrated (well, demonstrated as much as possible without an actual patient there).

I got to see the recovery room, with all of its recliners lined up in a row, and the spartan doctor's office. She showed me cannullas and tubing and jars and speculums. All the sizes of cervix dilators. The best part, THE BEST PART, is when one of the other techs came over to us with two bags in her hand.

They each had one small cup in them. For those of you who have ever had the misfortune of being drug tested, you would say that they resembled urine collection cups. I remarked how closely they resembled these cups, myself.

I'm cutting this to be nice to the people on my friends list. If you're squeamish about abortion or even just squeamish in general, DO NOT continue. I really mean it. When I tell you that something might squick you out and it's related to my job, pay fucking heed. I don't want to hear any complaining. No, really. I'm serious. )
thejunipertree: (Default)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved protestors!

(and they are the LAMEST fucking protestors I have ever seen. It's two little mall girls out there with their messenger bags and do-rags, holding a sign. I am incredibly disappointed, though I can see them from my office window.)

**edit**
oop. They've been joined by a little old lady in a babushka with a lawn chair. And just I was typing this, they were joined by a fourth person of indeterminable gender carrying an armful of clothes.

This is like visual word salad.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Saturday morning.

There are so many clouds hanging in the sky that it's as if a bleak, cotton blanket has been stretched across the horizon. You know the kind. Some unidentifable colour faded from too many washings, fuzzy nubs poking crazily up at you and sticking to your hands and clothes. The worst blanket in the pile, the one you always avoid unless given no choice. That's what is currently hanging in the air, blotting out the sun.

The Engineer and I are driving down Route 70, on our way to a state forest for a camping trip with our friends. Having stayed up a large portion of the night before eating steak, drinking wine, and watching horror movies, I occasionally blink blearily at him and ask him to repeat himself when he says something to me.

A car is putt-putting in front of us, taking its goddamn time. The Engineer curses and switches to the next lane. As we begin to pass it, I spot a multitude of bumper stickers plastered all over the back and sides of the vehicle. Apparently, someone doesn't realize where "bumper" stickers are meant to be placed. Overtaking the snaily car, I see what messages its driver wishes to impart to the rest of the world. They're all pro-life, anti-abortion.

The driver is hunched over the steering wheel, hands placed at one and eleven o'clock. Sour mouth primly puckered like a cat's asshole. Have you ever noticed that the people who are against abortion are the ones you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place?! George Carlin gleefully shouts in my brain.

Kneeling up in my seat as we came to a red light, I turn around and lean over the headrest to shoot the old man a double deuce, which causes him to glare at me and The Engineer to half-heartedly tell me to knock it off and play nice. The light changes and we drive off, watching a parade of cars pile up behind the unhappy old man and his vehicular dogma.
thejunipertree: (Default)
The part that made me want to power vomit?

http://slate.msn.com/id/2078247/

And throughout these cases, the states have insisted that the plates, while backed by pro-life groups and trumpeting the famous pro-life slogan, actually have nothing to do with abortion: They are simply "pro-adoption." In fact, when Jeb Bush signed the Florida plates into law he insisted: "It's a pretty tag and it says 'Choose Life' and it's for adoption. If people want to politicize that, they'll politicize anything."

What, have you fucking been eating retard sandwiches or something?!

If it's FOR adoption and bears the slogan of CHOOSE LIFE, then it is very obviously AGAINST abortion. Why else bear the slogan? Why not bear a slogan that says YAY ADOPTION instead? I mean, if it really doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with abortion.

Knuckle dragging idiot mouth breathers.

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