What was more surprisingly to me were the patients. I’m not exactly sure what I expected–a bunch of Riot Grrrl type feminists? Young women actively taking control of their sexuality? There was that, certainly, but there was also a lot of older women, married, with kids, who looked a lot like the protesters who’d been screaming in my face.
Indeed, my doctors told me, getting an anti-abortion protester as an abortion patient was actually not that uncommon. It even made a certain kind of sense: protesters liked going to a doctor they knew, one who was reliable and committed to her work. One doctor told me about an unmarried patient who stressed over getting “it” done before she’d start to show, i.e., the people at church would know; the doctor changed her schedule for this woman, who went out to continue screaming from the protest lines afterward. Conservative fathers with “important” careers brought in their daughters. One doctor recounted her days at a Catholic hospital pre-Roe v. Wade, and how Catholic mothers dragging in bearing their fifth, sixth, seventh child would beg her in a whisper for “hysterectomies.”
The hypocrisy runs very deep.
Despite being of “advanced maternal age, ” when I did get successfully pregnant, I declined an amniocentesis because I already knew I wouldn’t have an abortion if the news was bad, so why expose the pregnancy to the small but significant risk of the test? A churchgoing anti-choice acquaintance confessed that she’d chosen to have early-early prenatal testing via chorionic villi sampling because, “I don’t want to get too attached in case the news isn’t good”–this is the same person who excoriated my pro-choice position by saying, “It isn’t just a clump of cells, it’s a life!” That she gets to be pro-life and I support baby-murder–this seems it should be the reverse.
Trying to render this disconnect in fiction didn’t work, which is why I’m writing about it now.