“How can you feel so much for another person, a complete stranger?”
Recently this question was posed in my Abnormal Psychology class. It resonated with me because it seems to articulate one of the most significant obstacles in the
complex world of abortion, which is that we see each other as separate.
"She is different," the woman says, who is 6 weeks and was in the waiting room with another woman who is "showing." "How can she do that to a baby?"
"They aren't like me. I am 40 and done having children. I've never planned on coming here," she explains, as if all other patients have visions of their reprodutive futures.
"I am different than them. I care," she tells me, angered by patients in the waiting room who have the nerve to laugh in an abortion clinic.
Nobody plans to have an abortion at 22 weeks, or at 40 years old. The way people deal with having to make tough decisions is not uniform; some laugh, others cry, and a few might not even acknowledge the difficulty of making such decisions until years later.
When I began training for my job, I also wondered what it would be like to talk about intimate details of a "stranger's" life. When I found myself invested in the most essential part of my job, though--making sure patients are listened and attended to--all such reservations disappeared.
I suppose what I'm saying can be put into two words: Trust women.
Sympathize, imagine, discuss, do what you have to do--but I am as you are.
There are differences among us, such as class, race, and most importantly in this case, gender, but we all want to feel like we are creating happy and fulfilling lives for ourselves and those we love.
If we are supplying someone else's ability to live, and decide we cannot continue to do such, know that it isn't easy--but it's also not your place to judge. At the risk of sounding preachy, let go of that which you cannot control (and how sad it is that control over women's bodies has become sanctioned by law).
If I had to identify the single most important thing abortion care has taught me in the precious 13 months I have been benfitting from it, it is that we should never judge others, for we never know another person's story, unless we ask.
Image: One Heart, One World