It’s 1979….New Orleans, Louisiana…and I am working at an abortion clinic right in the heart of the city. Six days a week we are providing abortion care services.… I travel by streetcar five of those days.
There is never a slow time in this clinic…we provide abortions up to twenty weeks….we never turn anyone away.
We see whoever asks for an abortion…single women, teenage women, married women, poor women, rich women, black women, white women, religious women, abused women…every woman. Every woman has her own personal story for having her abortion, but for government reporting, we always put “health of the mother” and record the rest of the demographics.
I remember the faces of many of the women who I supported during their abortions, but the one person I remember the best was Maple, a teenager who came in with her friend. Maple was all giggly and smiles, happy to be able to “take care of this” and then get on with her life. Her abortion was without incident and over very quickly. She recovered easily in the recovery area and was about to be sent on her way home when I reviewed her aftercare plan and gave her a months’ worth of birth control pills.
It was evident that she had little support at home to assure that she took her pills as needed.
I asked if she could take the pills at school and call me every morning to let me know that she did. Well, I’ll be damned, she called me every day in between classes to let me know that she took her birth control pills. She called for about a week or so. That was the best week I had at that clinic. She was a breath of fresh air, off to a better start in life than what she had ahead of her had she not reached out to us for care.
I remembered her and her situation when I started earnestly looking into the abortion scene in Maine in 2017 and was horrified at the lack of access, especially for a teenage kid with little support at home. I mean, this was 2017, and Maine was behind, with regards to access, compared to New Orleans in 1979!
In 2017, 38 whole years later, only three clinics in the state were providing abortion care for aspiration abortions. Abortions were provided on only certain days in certain places, minors need adult involvement… Holy moly! Now it’s 2020…we have come a good distance in Maine during the past three years, but access is still a privilege not afforded to everyone. I continue to fight for full access because of Maple, and I hope you will, too.