I try not to write too much about work because I’m more than just the work I do and also because I require distance from my work. It’s the easiest work to take home with you and the worst work to take home with you. Abortion care is about empowerment and support and feminism, but every woman I see is a woman in crisis, to some extent.

Yesterday, I spoke with a mother of a 12-year-old. The 12-year-old was raped and is, by best estimate, 16 weeks pregnant. Both parent and minor need to be on the phone to set up an appointment, and I was taken aback when the mother said her daughter was next to her as she made the phone call at 10:30 in the morning. “She didn’t want to go to school like this…since she found out,” the mother explained to me in Spanish. I tried not to picture the 7th grader sitting at home as her mother wrung her hands. The 7th grader who had been violated–the word for rape en espanol is violación–and who was carrying a fetus the size of an avocado, but probably larger because gestational estimates are always off with minors.

The first time I counseled a 12-year-old who had been raped, I had to dial back my information session. I still didn’t whisper, “down there,” but I pretended that I was teaching sex ed to a middle schooler, her first exposure. Yesterday on the phone, I couldn’t even start telling the girl what her cervix was or how it would dilate overnight. All I could say was, “I’m so sorry and this isn’t your fault and we’re going to take good care of you and keep you safe, and please call me if you have any questions.”

Last night in bed, I cried for the girl whose first exposure to sex was by force by a stranger, whose first gynecological experience would be a two-day long abortion, who would be haunted and broken from the age of 12.

I gave the mother information about how to secure funding for an abortion, more than $1,000, which might have been something she expected to be doing when her daughter was 17 and had had sex by choice. No one budgets for an abortion for a 12-year-old, and public funding is still a joke. I told her how to go about finding a detective to come to the clinic and collect DNA evidence, something we would never require, but something that gives some power back to the survivor. Something to help a child of immigrants to be OK someday.

I told my co-workers that I would be the girls’ advocate during her appointment since it’s the least I can do. It’s also the most I can do, which is a shitty, shitty feeling.

Advertisements