Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They Say it Comes in Threes

I was kind of avoiding writing about this week's clinic because it was kind of nuts, and I need to get my head around it. But a lot of the time I think my writing is kind of boring (no I am not fishing for compliments, I just wouldn't read my stuff if I wasn't me), so it's stupid to avoid writing when something actually interesting happens.

I don't know what it was about yesterday. A combination of things happened and it was just an atmosphere kind of thing as well. When I got home and told my partner about it, he wanted to check and see if it was a full moon (it wasn't). Ok, so now I've built this up, here comes the anticlimatic tale.

The protesters were late coming out. When they did finally show up, they had reinforcements (most likely from Saint John), some of whom we had never seen before. One of them, an elderly woman, came up to one of the escorts and said, in a nice-little-old-lady voice, "You know what I wish you people would do? I wish you would provide these women with all the options. They suffer, I know you see them suffering." Poor HB (the volunteer in question) could hardly keep in all the clever comebacks, but she did an admirable job.

And then there were three kind of weird patient incidents. The first (in ascending order of strangeness) was that while a patient was in the clinic, her father left and went next door to the "Women's Care Centre". Of course the protesters got super excited and all swarmed in to greet him. He returned some time later with a handful of pamphlets and sat back in the waiting room with the patient's mother. The patient herself had already gone in to have the procedure, so as volunteer AL pointed out, that had the potential to be an awkward ride home. At least he didn't get one of the little plastic fetuses they hand out next door; I don't feel that would have gone over too well in the waiting room.

The next was a patient who, about half an hour before she was supposed to show up, called to tell us that she had been in an accident. Her car had been clipped by a truck, slid across the highway and flipped. THAT IS A CRAZY ACCIDENT. She and her partner were quite literally lucky to be alive. However, she still wanted to come for her appointment. The police ended up driving her here, and they weren't quite sure where to go; she almost ended up at the Women's Care Centre too! Wouldn't that have been the cherry on top of her day?

Car Accident Patient was quite cheery when she arrived. When I gave her the forms to fill out, she apologized for not having a bathrobe and t-shirt, as they had been in the car which was now totalled. Obviously I let her know that there was no need to worry about it, but then the whole story came pouring out of her and even though she was still smiling, she was also shaking. She was totally in shock. Poor lady. I made her sit down and drink some water, and by the time she went in for her ultrasound she was feeling a lot better. I think her plan for afterwards was to take a cab back home (over an hour's drive away), so that pretty much sucks. What a trouper!

And the worst incident was a young woman whose mother had dragged her here. The patient clearly did not want to have an abortion; while in to have her ultrasound she freaked out about the finger prick test, and then told the nurse, her mother and anyone who would listen that it was a blessing to be pregnant, a beautiful gift from God. Incidents like this are never as amusing as you think they are going to be, at least not at the time. While back in the waiting room, she was talking to her parents, trying to get them to leave. Another patient came up to me in tears and told me that either Gift-from-God patient had to go, or she would. Apparently GfG was blabbing on in the middle of the waiting room about how she wasn't going to "kill [her] baby" and all that. In the end, we had to ask her to either leave or stop upsetting the other patients. She left.

Outside, GfG and her parents were approached by Pink Hat, in her rosary-counting, Jesus-totin' glory. GfG's mother was already SUPER PISSED, and ended up giving Pink Hat a nice little shove (she wasn't hurt). While I don't condone the violence, I feel that the protesters have to assume that their presence is going to provoke that kind of reaction sometimes. Anyway, they are a litigious bunch over there so they must be pretty mad that there's no way for them to find out the woman's name or where she is from.'s been pretty nuts.

Here is an article I like, that expresses some things I wish I could put into words.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Queen, Blue Skies and Lies

I just want to start with something that isn't about abortion. Since when is Fredericton on Google Streetview?? I spent a good half hour googling all my friends' houses. Creepy? I like to think so. I was sad that they managed to capture the one moment of the day when neither of my cats are in the window. I googled the clinic because I'm quite visible at work; my office window is huge and faces the street. I hoped to catch myself doing something mildly embarrassing like adjusting a bra strap or making a puppet show with the speculums (speculi?), but no such luck. What use is this if it doesn't allow our ugliest moments to be trapped forever on the internet?

Anyway. Clinic was not too bad this morning. The weather was excellent for this time of year - zero degrees! In February! Amazing. The protesters were not out until around 8:00, which means half an hour's worth of patients came in unharrassed. Of course, when the protesters did finally come out they were in top form; I saw Pink Hat yabbering away at people from my window. One of the volunteers tells me that after a woman ignored her advice not to "kill [her] baby" and came in anyway, Pink Hat muttered "Another one bites the dust". These people love drama, and it doesn't get any more dramatic than Freddy Mercury. Trust me.

One woman who had been harrassed on her way in stopped to talk to me as she was leaving. She wanted to know who she could write to about the abysmal situation in New Brunswick, so I wrote out a contact list for her - the premier, the minister of justice, the minister of health, the local paper, etc. She is a single mother of FIVE CHILDREN. Now, I believe that every woman, regardless of her situation, has the right to make decisions about her body, but if I had to hand out abortions on a merit basis, this woman would be right up there. I can't imagine raising five children on my own, and then being faced with another pregnancy. Yikes.

I had a woman call yesterday to make an appointment. She said she had already talked to someone at the "abortion counselling centre" and had another appointment to go there later in the week, but that she had decided to have the procedure and wanted to go ahead and book it now, did I think that was alright? I was like, whoa, what are you talking about? She went to get the counsellor's card, and when she came back she told me that it was Martha something. Crazy Legs. I had to explain to her that the Women's Care Centre was not affiliated with us (something Crazy Legs had, I would guess deliberately, forgotten to mention) and that they were, in fact, anti-choice. The woman was quite surprised by this information, although she admitted that she thought it was rather strange that Crazy Legs was so adamant in trying to convince her not to abort. I told her not to be surprised to see her "counsellor" out protesting when she comes in for an abortion. Honestly, it is so easy for them to trick people! Volunteer AL summed it up best: "That is one of the worst experiences that I can imagine. Going to see someone you think is a professional, and it's Crazy Legs."

So while I'm blogging away, I do want to remind you, if you are an abortion provider or involved in abortion care in any way (as a doctor, nurse, clinic staff member, volunteer, future provider, etc.) to submit your story to the "I Am Dr. Tiller" project. I know it's kind of hypocritical for me to be talking this up since I haven't done it yet, but I do plan to! It is sitting in my inbox; it's just a matter of sitting down and writing it out. Anyway, it's always great to have Canadian voices in projects like these, so get to it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Excuses to Keep Me Warm

In case you're wondering whether I have an excuse for blowing off my resolution to update my blog regularly each week - I don't. In fact, if anything, I have negative excuses, as I was home sick all last week with bronchitis, and thus had all the time in the world to blog. See, this is the problem with New Year's resolutions: they only last a month, and then you just feel worse than before.

That said, last week's clinic was a bit dull. For whatever reason, the protesters didn't even come out until around nine o'clock (clinic starts at seven-thirty), and then they went in immediately after the escorts left. It was a lackluster effort at saving souls.

This week there was no such problem. The protesters were out bright and early, and as irritating as ever. Pink Hat, with her little cross held aloft, shoved her nose into the business of every woman coming in. There was even a little scuffle - she ran up against the back of one of the escorts, AT, and then told AT that had the situation been reversed, we would have called the police! It just makes me remember a story that the original volunteer co-ordinator told me: about how Crazy Legs fell in the snow, then picked herself up, stuffed snow in her pockets and told the police that LM had pushed her. Those darling protesters and their wild imaginations!

It was brutally cold outside yesterday. I insisted earlier in the week that no one was to stay for extra shifts, as some of the volunteers like to do. No one fought me on it; they were taking it in turns to come inside and warm up! It actually kind of reminded me of my first shift as a volunteer, which was in February three years ago (!). It was pretty much the coldest day of life. It's tough to be out there in weather like that, just standing still.

In other news, one of our fabulous volunteers had her letter to the editor published! Scroll down, it's the last one, entitled (bluntly) "Find something else to do besides intimidating vulnerable women". Awesome!!

Stay warm, friends.