iStock photo 1150732846
FatCamera via iStock

Our clinics, like many others around the country, receives a card decorated with red hearts professing faux concern for abortion clinic workers. Every few weeks the cards come from anti-abortionists who want to “love an abortion care worker out of the industry.” While these “anti-abortion” cards don’t include physical threats—and even claim to care about abortion clinic workers—they are still incredibly stigmatizing. Our work is not shameful or wrong, and it is a misguided notion that we want to leave our jobs. 

So many of us are proud to be abortion providers. We believe it is our duty to support people’s right to legal medical care. And despite the constant opposition, we will continue the fight for every person’s human right to have autonomy over their own body and future. 

“You can’t erase the memories of what you have witnessed in the abortion industry,” the beginning of the card reads.

That sentiment assumes I would want to. The amazing acts of kindness and compassion from the clinic workers that I’m blessed to work with are etched in my memory forever. Whether we’re providing service to a family who has to terminate a wanted pregnancy due to fetal complications, helping a survivor of sexual assault, helping a student who wants to finish school, or a patient who cannot afford to provide for another child – clinic workers are there to support the paitent sans judgment. 

Our patients’ individual stories are not something I’d dream of forgetting because each one is unique, as is their gratitude. We receive notes, emails, and calls from the patients we serve, which fuels our work. And, by the way, our work also includes patients who’ve gone through our pregnancy options counseling session and decide to continue their pregnancies. We trust our patients because only  they know what  they can bear— financially, emotionally, and spiritually.  We are here to hold our patients’ hand  to support  them through the procedure because it is the decision they have made.

“You can quit your job before you add more to your list of regrets,” the card continues. 

Anti-abortionists are misguided enough to assume my regrets are about the job, when in fact the  regrets I have are about what  society and politicians force patients and providers to endure. It is regrettable that patients come to our clinics expecting to be treated with judgment and disrespect because of the misinformation and stigma that still exists.. Countless patients cry tears of relief because they are treated with dignity and compassion. 

It is regrettable that our staff and patients have to endure protesters that range from hatefully hostile like the screaming man who spewed lies to a staff member’s small children, and the insincere “sidewalk counselors” who pile on the shame with a smile. It’s regrettable that in our clinics alone over 60%  of our patients live in poverty. We sometimes have to feed patients because they haven’t eaten. Patients struggle to pay for their procedure and to travel to have the procedure because 89% percent of U.S. counties don’t have an abortion clinic.

It is regrettable that politicians constantly intervene in matters that should only be between patients and their doctors. It is regrettable that alleged “pro-life” politicians cut programs that would help families with affordable housing, food, safety, and healthcare. How society treats abortion are my only regrets, not my job. And if anyone is to bear any shame, it’s the anti-abortionists, not me. So to my fellow abortion providers I say, tear up that card! A true love letter to abortion clinic workers would look like this: 

Thank you for all you do for your patients every day. Thank you for your courage and compassion. Thank you for resisting and working for a better world simply by showing up to work. Most of all, thank you for fighting for our rights by doing what is right. You are loved!

Mercedes Sanchez works at Cedar River Clinics in Washington State and is a board member of the Abortion Care Network.