Jordan Wyer, MSW
I worked as a door-to-door salesperson for 4 grueling days in the summer of 2015. One of the most important tricks of this profession are icebreakers. If I could make a connection and start a conversation, I could make a sale. I was instructed to inquire about topics that EVERYONE was open to talk about. I cannot remember the clever acronym they used to remember these topics, but the weather, pets, kids, hobbies, and professions were a few. We could use them to seem relatable and build connections with strangers. How often have we engaged in small talk with someone and heard the phrase, “Oh, what do you do?” After quitting that job, I longed for the next time a solicitor knocked on my door because they would be caught off guard. For an abortion provider, there is always this pause after the profession question. That’s a loaded question. It can quickly turn innocent small talk into a gauntlet of imposing morals on another person.
When I started working for an abortion provider as a purple-haired, 22-year-old Patient Advocate, I told everyone I worked in abortion care. There was no shame in this game. I was proud of the work I did to help women and I had no problem helping others confront their feelings on abortion. My confessions were met with smiles, gasps, high fives, dirty looks, praise, and misquoted bible references. In the first few years, I lost touch with close friends and family members who held strong opinions about the reproductive lives of women they would never meet. It was while I was grieving the deterioration of these relationships that I began (slightly) altering my behavior. I was still an avid supporter of the bodily autonomy of pregnant people, I could not see myself working anywhere but abortion care, and I still rocked my purple hair. I was, however, more cautious with who I shared my profession with because I was tired of fighting. I was burned out.
I am a person who values my relationships with my friends, my family and my community. I am patient with those who support others in their life choices, and I no longer wanted to waste my energy with people who do not trust or value my experience in this work. This past week, I was discussing the unglamorous trials, tribulations, and excitement about a coworker’s pregnancy with someone I consider a key member of my chosen family. He is pro-choice. He has supported the choices of women he has loved and understands the reality of abortion. Even with all his experience and understanding of abortion, he said, “I don't know why, but it’s weird that someone who works in a clinic would have a baby.”
“What’s so weird about it? Abortion workers are people, too,” I responded.
This concept seemed so simple to me. Abortions workers, just like anyone else, have dreams, plans, and aspirations for their futures. Abortion workers are contributing members of society. We go to work. We LOVE our pets (a lot). Some of us spend too much time on social media. We have mortgage payments and road rage. We get married. Some of us WANT to have children and start families. We have tattoos. We are educated. Some of us are pregnant. We work hard. We can be pregnant AND support ALL the choices patients make before coming to our clinics. We sing and dance. Some of us are sports fans. We binge watch shows on Netflix. Some of us travel. Others enjoy the privacy of our own homes. None of us drink enough water. We laugh when we’re happy and cry when we are sad. We are attempting to live our best lives, and we are people, just like you.
It is important that I humanize abortion workers because there is a well-funded and ever-present effort by anti-abortion advocates and supporters to dehumanize us. These efforts have leaked into the fabric of our society, even with pro-choice advocates and abortion patients, clouding the humanity of those who provide abortions. We face real and growing threats of harassment and violence due to the nature of our work. Providers are harassed daily at work by protesters standing outside, at home by the postcards and letters mailed to their personal addresses, and online by cyber bullies who only speak up from behind a keyboard. Clinics have been bombed and doctors have been murdered. All of this committed by individuals who consider themselves, “pro-life.”
I will not stand for this hypocrisy anymore. I will continue to demystify abortion. Abortion is a human right and I will stand up for humankind because abortion workers are people, too.