I am an independent abortion care provider because of her. Her whole life, she has stood up for other women. She promoted education and empowerment amongst the women around her, despite living in a political climate that threatened her own safety every day. She taught me so much about how to treat people: with dignity and respect. She is the woman I watched keep her chin high while others tried to put her down.
She is my mother. She is an independent abortion care provider.
I had the privilege of watching her work when I was a kid. As a single mother of three working long hours, she faced many of the challenges all working moms do. And every day when she got up to go to work, I knew she was going to make sure that the women who walked through her doors had access to the reproductive health care they needed, including abortion care and family planning services. She did this for the women in our community, as well as many who traveled from far away.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been raised by a woman who loves me unconditionally, who supports me in whatever I need, and who taught me not only how to help others, but also how to listen to them. She taught me to treat people with dignity and compassion, to respect their decisions and to honor their humanity.
It’s been an honor to work alongside her over the last 12 years in our shared dream to provide women with caring, safe and affordable birth control and abortion care.
For as long as women have had babies, women have also had abortions. In places and times where they had the knowledge and support to end a pregnancy safely and effectively, they have done so. When women have not had access to a range of abortion options and accurate health information, some have turned to ineffective or dangerous methods of ending a pregnancy. That is why it’s so important that abortion remains available and accessible.
In addition to the legal and logistical barriers women face when seeking abortion, many also struggle because their support systems or their communities let them down by not listening or working to understand what they were trying to say. Instead of being treated with dignity and respect, they were punished, called names or cast out by their friends or families. They were made to feel like they have less value in the world, or like their decisions about their own pregnancy didn’t matter.
No woman should have to go through this. My mother taught me to trust women to make their own decisions, because I can’t possibly walk in their shoes or know what’s best for their unique circumstances.
Women of all backgrounds have abortions every year, in every country, for many different reasons. There is a good chance a woman you love and support in your life has had an abortion.
It breaks my heart to know that there are women who can’t get this necessary care, women who may be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, or who may turn to unsafe methods to end a pregnancy on her own.
What would you want for a woman you love? However we may feel about abortion personally, certainly we can all agree that when a woman has decided to end a pregnancy, she should be able to do so safely and effectively, and be treated with dignity.
Women should be treated with compassion and respect, and should feel that they have value. Women should have the opportunity to make the best decisions for their life, to feel safe and to access care from knowledgeable and skilled health care professionals who can provide compassionate care.
I asked my mother once why she became an abortion provider. She told me it was because she wanted to make sure that I, and every woman like me, always had access to safe, medically sound and non-judgmental healthcare. In that moment, my mother had set the bar for me as a health care professional, a mother and a woman.
As an abortion provider, I do much more than provide quality health care — though of course that is the most important part of my job. I also listen to all of the people who are willing to share the story of their life, because no one else will take the time to listen. I advocate for every woman who has been made to believe her voice doesn’t matter. I learn everything I can about how to continue supporting, educating and providing access to people who have been marginalized, oppressed and silenced because of who they are, where they come from or what they believe.
I trust women to make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families.
I do this because the world is not perfect and I have a responsibility to my communities and the people I care about to make sure we continue moving forward, toward a more just and compassionate future. I do this because of the most powerful lesson my mother taught me: to see in every woman a story, a life and a person that matters.