Last spring, I unexpectedly lost a pregnancy at the end of my first trimester. Seven months later, the week before Christmas, I miscarried again. In addition to the physical and emotional burden of the second loss, I also experienced a significant financial one: after deductibles and co-payments, it cost my single-income family nearly $3,000, including the D&C – known in another context as an abortion.
After discovering I was pregnant again in February, I scarcely had time to develop a response before it became clear that it wasn’t going to be a viable pregnancy. This time, my first call wasn’t to my midwife – it was to Maine Family Planning.
Some miscarriages resolve naturally, but others require medical intervention, and that, I had discovered, can come at great expense.
I had no hesitation about calling MFP. As a queer-identified woman in a heterosexual primary relationship, I’ve gratefully accessed affordable and judgement-free services from family planning agencies for many years. I did have one very serious reservation, however: I knew that going to MFP in March would mean driving through the gauntlet of 40 Days of Life, the annual anti-choice demonstration outside their gates. And I had to think hard about whether I could face a third devastating loss, this time more affordably, but accompanied by public shaming from an assembly of my Maine neighbors.
People accessing abortion care may be feeling grief, like me. They may be feeling fear, or regret, or relief – like me. No one seeks these services without some mix of these emotions, and likely many more, but few people drive through without a deep feeling that it is what they must do. And not one of us deserves to have the emotions surrounding that experience compounded by the uncompassionate judgement of strangers.
I might not be the typical MFP abortion client, or the kind of patient the 40 Days folks think they’re protesting against. But the thing is, they don’t know that. They don’t know who is inside the car, and they can’t know our reasons for seeking care: none of that is visible to the crowd.
Ultimately, I did not need to rely on MFP’s services this month. But from the first conversation to the last, they were supportive, responsive, and empathetic – and without judgement. It is for these reasons that I have depended on them for so many years, and will for many more.
Whatever brings a person through the gates of Maine Family Planning for abortion services, they are truths known only to that client. These are not stories that can be understood from behind a picket sign. Every person in Maine deserves the level of unparalleled care that is offered inside that building – without the side dish of shame that the crowd at the gate is offering up.
~Destie Hohman Sprague