A few months ago, I had a patient knock on my office door. She had been scheduled for an abortion last month, but due to one of her children getting sick and her babysitter canceling on her, she missed her first appointment and her rescheduled appointment as one must often do in life.
Because our clinic is the last option for so many women and we get so many requests for appointments, we did not have another spot for her until three weeks from that point. When she heard this news, she came to my office unannounced, asking if she could speak to me. She could not afford to wait those three weeks.
She asked, “tell me what am I supposed to do? Will you raise this child for me?” I shook my head, and said “I’m so sorry, I wish we had more appointment slots.” She started to cry, and said “You know I can’t afford this! I have another baby to feed. I have to focus on her.” I held her hand and soothed her, frustrated that I could not directly help her. I ended up referring her to another busy clinic in the hopes that they would have an appointment slot for her.
I was frustrated by my helplessness in this situation, but also frustrated that abortion care is so stigmatized that there are not enough providers and appointments to help all the women who need this care.