In the small still hours of the night I am at peace with myself and with God,who gave me this mission in life. – Mary Smith, MD, Dallas, TX.
It is a lucky person who can utter such words, who can rest in a sense of serenity in those small still hours of the night. And while some may be surprised that it is an abortion-care provider who spoke the words above, many of us who are fortunate enough to know, care for, and work with providers are not so astonished. Religious and secular providers alike often talk about their work as a calling, echoing the language that ministers’ use to describe their work in service to the holy. Both ministers and abortion-care providers are compelled to do the good works of compassion, justice, and mercy.
Saturday March 10th was Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. And all of us who have been blessed by the good works of abortion-care providers are encouraged to take a few moments to express their gratitude and appreciation. Abortion-care providers and their loved ones live with the memories of their eight colleagues murdered and countless other acts of violence and intimidation. They persevere through continual harassment at work and home—sometimes protesters even harass providers’ children at their schools. They put up with all of this and more because they are fiercely dedicated to women’s well-being.
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As Dr. Willie Parker put it:
What will happen to these women if we don’t serve them? I come from a religious background and I also believe strongly in social justice. As a women’s health provider, I eventually became uncomfortable not providing abortions.
In those times when you face an unplanned pregnancy, you will have somewhere to turn, a place that will allow you to choose what is best out of a hard situation, a place with people that will help you navigate the confusion, fear, and vulnerability. Life is hard. Things get messy. Providers like Smith and Parker will help you through these times.
For communities of faith, it is particularly important that we let our abortion-care providers know how much we appreciate them. Conservative-Fundamentalist Christianity has promoted hateful idolatry, seducing too many of us into believing that abortion (and heck, these days even birth-control) are used in spite of morality, compassion, and love; that birth control and abortion are evils in a harsh world.
To be a person of deep faith has never been easy. Our faiths call us to challenge the status-quo of injustice, no matter how unpopular our stances may be. Our faiths call us to take risks for compassion, justice, and mercy. This week, in your church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, consider how you can answer this call.
How will you let them know that in a harsh world devastated by coercion and violence, you understand that radical acts of compassion and justice, like providing abortion-care, are exactly what we need more of?
How will you express your solidarity with abortion-care providers this weekend?
I continue to do abortions after 25 years because the voices of gratitude and relief from my patients drown out the hatred and intolerance from the protesters outside. In the small still hours of the night I am at peace with myself and with God, who gave me this mission in life. – Mary Smith, MD, Dallas, TX.