I do some consulting work for the owners of the online abortion clinic directory, www.abortion.com. It’s a great website that helps women find abortion providers in their local area. In that capacity, I often have a chance to talk to owners and/or administrators of clinics all across the country.
The other day I got an interesting call from an owner of a clinic in Rochester. After catching up on items of mutual interest, my friend then hesitantly asked THE question: “So, uh, Pat, I was wondering if you’ve heard if other clinics’ numbers are down?”
It’s a question I used to receive all of the time. As a staff person for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, one of my responsibilities was to know as much as possible about what was going on in the world of the clinics. After all, clinics are businesses so there were times when they didn’t want to necessarily talk about attacks on Roe v Wade. Instead, I found myself on occasion talking about what their Yellow Page ads should look like, what conventions they were going to, where to get inexpensive medications and medical supplies, etc. And, at times, we just talked about how the clinic was doing from a business perspective.
The question this woman asked me the other day referred, of course, to how many abortion patients the clinic was seeing and, based on the tone of her voice, I could tell that the number of abortion patients was down compared to the last year. This question always fascinated me because, being good liberal feminists, our goal has always been to reduce the need for abortion. That’s why most clinics counsel women on birth control before or after their abortion and why many also give out free birth control samples. And the fact is that the number of abortion patients has decreased over the years.
So, that’s a good sign, right?
I told the woman that the number of abortion patients was indeed declining and she asked “do you know why?” I think she knew the answer, but I conjectured that it was probably a combination of many things. Let’s face it, I told her, young people are just getting smarter about contraception. They are getting especially savvy about emergency contraception, which can stop a pregnancy from developing if taken within 72 hours after having unprotected sex. Indeed, I have no doubt that, in this world of cell phones, tweeting and Facebook, the word is getting out and more and more women are just buying EC and stocking it in their shelves – just in case.
So there’s lots of good news but I could tell the woman at the end of the phone was not jumping up and down for joy. And, contrary to what the anti-abortion folks might suggest, she was not thrilled because she had this burning desire to perform abortion after abortion. No, she was just having a very human reaction that anyone in any job might have. She believes that she and her staff do good work for many women and they want to continue to be there for them, but as their numbers go down, the income goes down and they start envisioning the possibility of closing their clinic. And they firmly believe that their clinic is the best clinic in the world and if a woman needs help, they hope they go to their clinic. Also, many of these folks have been with their clinic since the beginning and absolutely love their work. And, no, I don’t mean they love aborting a fetus – they love helping women. It’s more than a job, it’s a cause.
And now their numbers are decreasing. More clinics are closing every year.
But that’s good, right?