On one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I woke up at 5:45am to walk to my friend's house and catch a ride with her to the abortion clinic. "What was she doing there?" one might ask. I participated in the Clinic Defense Program at the Charleston Woman's Medical Center, one of only three certified abortion clinics in South Carolina. CDP provides volunteers that guide the patients through the mass of protesters who stand behind a painted white line outside of the clinic and shout nasty things at those entering. My role as a volunteer was to greet people (to distract them and to make them feel comfortable) as they exited their cars and headed towards the clinic entrance.
Anyways, earlier today I went to a volunteer appreciation party at the clinic. Yes, I know that a party is not regularly associated with an abortion clinic. Something really strange happened to me at the little celebration: I felt sick, and it was partially attributable to the gruesome scent that breeds in environments that are touted as sterile, but are not in reality. Someone generously provided a spread of refreshments that I would have received with gratitude and enthusiasm had it not been for the inappropriate environment; as hungry as I was, I had trouble biting into hunks of brie cheese as I stood amidst stirrups, price lists of services ($450 and up for an abortion) and other medically-associated material.
The workers gave tours of the clinic to the volunteers, many of whom had never actually been inside. We saw the ultrasound room, the operating room (the operation only takes 3-5 minutes) and the recovery room where all of the women are required to sit for 30 minutes after the procedure to be monitored for immediate complications.
Micah is kick-ass girl who organizes students from C of C to participate in Clinic Defense. On the ride home she told us that one of her friends had gone to the clinic for an abortion, and vomited throughout the whole process because of the noxious scent. This place was no place for a party, and critics of its clients need to understand that women would not seek its services lest they had the choice (I know this is simplifying the situation, but I'm just trying to say that this place is not an enjoyable place for women to go, and people need to be more sympathetic towards their situations).
During the tour, volunteers asked many questions. However, no one asked anything about the tissue that is removed from the woman during the abortion procedure. As I write this, I have been looking on the internet to figure out how large the embryo or fetus (10+ weeks old) is that is removed. At this clinic, an abortion can be performed on a woman who is up to 13 weeks and six days pregnant. At 12 weeks, the embryo is around four inches long. I suppose that when you're at the clinic, you don't really like to think about these things. Even though I strongly support women's rights to reproductive control, I still feel an indescribable emotion when I picture the removal of a small replica of a human being.