Abortion is a highly personal decision that many women are sure they'll never have to think about until they're suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. But this can happen to anyone, including women who are strongly anti-choice. So what does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women -- abortion.
In the spring of 2000, I collected the following anecdotes directly from abortion doctors and other clinic staff in North America, Australia, and Europe. The stories are presented in the providers' own words, with minor editing for grammar, clarity, and brevity. Names have been omitted to protect privacy.
"I have done several abortions on women who have regularly picketed my clinics, including a 16 year old schoolgirl who came back to picket the day after her abortion, about three years ago. During her whole stay at the clinic, we felt that she was not quite right, but there were no real warning bells. She insisted that the abortion was her idea and assured us that all was OK. She went through the procedure very smoothly and was discharged with no problems. A quite routine operation. Next morning she was with her mother and several school mates in front of the clinic with the usual anti posters and chants. It appears that she got the abortion she needed and still displayed the appropriate anti views expected of her by her parents, teachers, and peers." (Physician, Australia)
"I've had several cases over the years in which the anti-abortion patient had rationalized in one way or another that her case was the only exception, but the one that really made an impression was the college senior who was the president of her campus Right-to-Life organization, meaning that she had worked very hard in that organization for several years. As I was completing her procedure, I asked what she planned to do about her high office in the RTL organization. Her response was a wide-eyed, 'You're not going to tell them, are you!?' When assured that I was not, she breathed a sigh of relief, explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn't want this to interfere with it." (Physician, Texas)
"In 1973, after Roe v. Wade, abortion became legal but had to be performed in a hospital. That of course was changed later. For the first 'legal abortion day' I had scheduled five procedures. While scrubbing between cases, I was accosted by the Chief of the OB/Gyn service. He asked me, 'How many children are you going to kill today?' My response, out of anger, was a familiar vulgar retort. About three months later, this born-again Christian called me to explain that he was against abortion but his daughter was only a junior in high school and was too young to have a baby and he was also afraid that if she did have a baby she would not want to put it up for adoption. I told him he did not need to explain the situation to me. 'All I need to know', I said, 'is that SHE wants an abortion.' Two years later I performed a second abortion on her during her college break. She thanked me and pleaded, 'Please don't tell my dad, he is still anti-abortion.'" (Physician, Washington State)
I should not be so easily amazed, however. In my college days I bartended at a late night dive that had a large percentage of gay customers. At times we would get picketed by religious groups- the place actually opned in the afternoon. Frequently after the picketing ended, the ministers who had lead the protest would make their way in through the back door, and find themselves chasing the working class young men. When the drinking age rose to 21, this behavior almost completely stopped.