As Told To Veronica Wells-Puoane
Abortion In Three Stages: The Clinic
Photo by Cut in A Moment on Unsplash
I’ve always been pro-choice. My mom had several miscarriages before me. After those miscarriages, she would need a D&C (Dilatation and Curettage: a procedure where the cervix is dilated and the uterine lining is scraped to remove abnormal tissues.) to make sure that the fetus had been completely removed. So even though she didn’t have an abortion, just having a procedure similar to it–I was always very pro choice even at a young age.
A few of my cousins have had abortions but they act like they have not based on their current politics.
In 2018, I took a job working as the social media manager for this center that was a gynecology office, a vaginoplasty office, a med spa, and an abortion office.
I always wanted to work in the healthcare space where women’s needs were advocated for. That was a desire for me. I also wanted to learn more about birth control for myself. I had just gotten into a serious relationship and like a late bloomer, I had never–you know some people have already gone through all the things when it comes to their reproductive care. I didn’t because I wasn’t having sex. For me, it was a way to help other women but also help myself.
As someone who grew up in New York–because a lot of Black New Yorkers are first or second generation [immigrants], I don’t think a lot of people talk about sex in a proper way.
The white friends I do have, have a very open relationship with their mothers about their sex lives that a lot of Black women don’t have. And I think because they have that openness, they know what to say and how to say it to their partners.
It was a way to help other women but also help myself.
The majority of women who came to the center were white, young, about 25-30. Sometimes 30-35. The 25-30 women would come in at 8 o’ clock in the morning. At this particular office, with some insurance companies, patients had the option of taking an Uber there and taking an Uber home. So if you live in SoHo, no one is going to ask you why you were on the upper East side.
Some of them would come in dark glasses, very inconspicuous. Some would come with their boyfriends. Some weren’t ready to have kids or they realized the baby had some type of deformity. Some people just got engaged and they didn’t want to be pregnant at their wedding.
Then on the weekend, starting from Thursday, it would be more immigrant women: Latinas, Black women (African and Caribbean). The Black and Latina teenagers would come on Friday after school. Sometimes it would be two girls supporting one friend. But the majority were well-to-do white women. People who came to New York with big goals and dreams–very Sex and the City–and made a mistake.
The staff was mostly women of color. The head nurse was Puerto Rican. I noticed that the white women would be hustling out. Hauling ass. The Black girls, the teenagers would lounge around. They’d eat cookies, talk about what they were going to do that weekend. Because the staff of women handled the girls with care. They would go through their care step by step.
You get the procedure done and then you have to wait about an hour, hour and a half, depending on how you’re bleeding and if you’re feeling lightheaded. So it’s technically a whole day thing, depending on how far along you are. (You can get an abortion in New York up to 24 weeks.)
They also have a room for people to lay down. It was really nice. Some people would stay there for a long time because it is a difficult procedure.
They would talk to them about what they were supposed to be eating. You want to be careful with your bowels.
Some people would come from out of state. New Jersey, Connecticut. One woman came from Ohio.
One lady–I’ll never forget this. She already had five kids. Her husband was always in and out of work, always drunk. But he would always try to force himself on her. The head nurse sat with her and worked on a game plan. That was the environment that was fostered.
The staff of women handled the girls with care.
When I went to college, upstate New York–I saw more teen pregnancies in my life than living in New York, going to high school in downtown Brooklyn. There were a lot of white moms on welfare. There were a lot of white moms who were proud to be on welfare, proud to get a job at Walmart and not go to college. Media says that we should be the ones pregnant but in reality, it’s those girls.
I think it starts with religion. Islam, the Black church. Men never want their seed to be thrown away. It’s not as much about the children but it’s about possessiveness. These are my genes. This is my legacy. This is mine.
All those little buzz words that they use. When I think about the institution of religion–a lot of churches function on shame. If my daughter is pregnant, what am I going to do to “erase the shame”? When I think about the propaganda of abortion being sent to destroy the Black family, it’s like, no you’re saying that because if a woman has autonomy and choice, then it means she has autonomy and choice in things she puts excessive labor in.
Even when you have choice as a Black woman, people wonder ‘What do you mean you’re not putting in labor to be miserable?’ What do you mean you’re not putting in labor to be stressed out, to have bad health?’
If Black men, especially, were to say, ‘Black women, be free and have agency,’ it’s scary to them because Black women in heterosexual relationships do so much labor for men. Whether it be their partners, their sons, their fathers. It’s a lot of work. And if shame is not in this equation, then you’re not going to be doing work.
Black women in heterosexual relationships do so much labor for men.
If you’re not being held in that energetic field, there’s so much more you can do with your time. Like with abortion, you can go to school. You can get a career. You have agency with your decision-making. And that whole propaganda is to show women, you don’t have any choices. No matter how evolved we are.
For women who want to kick it to other women, they want to judge somebody for what they judge themselves for too. But nobody knows that I did x,y, and z.
Someone said to me, ‘You go hard for these things. Did you ever have an abortion?’ No, girl. But why is that your thought?
If shame wasn’t a part of it, a lot more women would come out and speak about their experiences, especially with the recent news. But a lot of people can’t process having one. They don’t have the support of family and friends.