By Jennifer DeCapua, MPA
In 2001, as I was graduating with my bachelor’s degree and desperately searching for a job, my then boyfriend (now husband) pointed out an employment ad in the paper. “Hey—this sounds perfect for you.” After seeing the title of the ad, “Passionate about helping women?” I knew I needed to apply.
I had no idea I was applying for a position at an independent abortion clinic.
18 years later, and I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. My career and volunteering have offered me so many beautiful opportunities I would have otherwise missed out on. I have been honored to hold the hands of hundreds of women going through an experience that, for many, will stand out in their lives, one way or another. I have been witness to heartbreak, anxiety, fear, and growth, strength, and love. I’ve held the hands of kids, scared to tell their mom they are pregnant, of wives and husbands making the choice to terminate because of a fetal anomaly, and of women who are mothers already, secure and confident in their choice to have an abortion.
Beyond the patients that I have served are the providers I have had the absolute privilege of working beside. And here is what I wish patients knew and understood: the women and men who walk through the clinic doors every single day to provide you with the life-saving service of abortion care are HEROES. Full stop.
On March 4, 2019, a man was charged in the arson at a Planned Parenthood in Missouri. February 26, 2019 a teen in Texas is arrested for threatening to “commit jihad on abortion clinics.” In July of 2018, another arson attempt was made at a Planned Parenthood in California.
These are just three of the stories that made national headlines recently. What you likely don’t hear about are the occurrences of domestic terrorism that your local abortion provider has to deal with daily, from clinic protestors out front, to unwelcoming municipalities. As an abortion provider, I have had many moments where I have questioned my ability to continue in this line of service. Some of my coworkers, myself included, have been the victims of anonymous hate mail sent to our entire neighborhoods (and my children’s school). I was working in the clinic when we received hoax anthrax letters in the mail. I haven’t even mentioned having to contend with the blatantly false and hurtful things that are said about abortion and abortion providers by friends, loved ones, and society at large.
The safety of staff, patients, and visitors is always a top concern for any abortion clinic. The steps and measures that are taken to make sure we are safe and feel secure are incredible. But what a burden and drain for what is essentially a doctor’s officethat provides a legal and safe procedure to have to carry.
The staff members you see at an abortion clinic make a decision every single day to go in to work FOR YOU: for your families, your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your wives, your girlfriends, your best friends, your roommates, your son’s partner, your cousins, your husbands, your fathers, your brothers, your sons. Our work is dedicated to helping make sure you and your family are able to fulfill the futures you dream of.
With these threats in mind, we take extra precautions to enter our building, open the front door, and welcome you to an inviting, warm, and comfortable environment. We make sure you feel safe and supported in your decision to terminate. And that in and of itself is a heroic act. We go above and beyond to assist our patients in any way we can. We hold sacred space for you, because you deserve that care.
And so do we. This Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, reach out to your local clinic and say thank you. Because without us, there is no access to abortion care. There is no access to finishing school, to finding your perfect job, to completing your family, to being who you want to be. No access to survival- physical, emotional, mental, economic, and otherwise. Not just for people who can get pregnant, but for the people who rely on them, too.
Stand up for us, and with us. We are in this together. People who provide abortions, people who have abortions, people who support bodily autonomy—we are all good people.