Dr. Tiller Works in Pennsylvania.
July 2nd, 2011

I started at the clinic in 2007 as the Administrative Assistant and have since moved into the position of Risk Manager. Having an administrative background at the clinic for a few years I felt that I would be adequately prepared for doing paperwork, keeping employees up to date with certifications and training and helping to do state reports of complications and taking emergency calls.

However, in the last few months, in the wake of the Gosnell tragedy, I have found my job to be more political, detailed, and sometimes difficult than I could have imagined. The state’s new regulations regarding Serious Event reporting and clinic inspections has caused a lot of confusion on the part of good clinics and the DOH alike. I feel like it creates more problems with patient confidentiality. The rules, to an extent, are so vague that we are always wondering if we are doing too much or too little. We have had to change policies several times, have been bombarded with questions that we don’t feel have anything to do with patient safety and the staff is on edge whenever the inspectors come in (not to mention this can disrupt patient flow if the doctor needs to be pulled away for questions). Of course, I always do and always will continue to make these changes and and follow policies accordingly with a smile on my face because it’s what I believe in. It needs to be done and it needs to be done with passion, compassion, and belief that this fight will continue.

I am motivated by so many things in my profession. From a simple thank you over the phone to a hug from a patient to the anti-choice faction standing outside telling me to “get a real job.” All of these things make me want to go to work everyday and wonder what else I can do to make not only the patients, but my co-worker’s day a little bit better. The women that I work with motivate me to constantly do more and more and keep learning. I was never told that abortion wasn’t an option, I was never told NOT to do this and now I know it’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I hope one day to branch out and help with more causes as well.

We have an entourage of regular protesters here pretty much on a daily basis, there are usually quite a few more on Saturdays. It’s sad to say that I’ve gotten immune to their commentary, but I have. Besides they say the same 5 things over and over. They carry their signs and hand out their literature and speak their anti sentiments, but it no longer bothers me.

When I first began here one of our protesters specifically targeted me and said something unforgivably about my 4 year old brother that had passed away. In my mind I feel like I vowed vengeance…but the best vengeance is continuing to do my job despite whatever they throw at me. I have been followed into bathrooms at clinic sponsored events by protesters, and been ridiculed for making pro-choice speeches…and I say…so what? Bring it on, it only makes stronger.

I wish that they didn’t scare the patients and I do my best to make patients aware and comfortable on the phone when speaking about protesters and sometimes it helps to make a joke out of it. If I feel a patient is having a particularly tough time and that their good experience may be hindered by protesters, I try to counsel them over the phone about walking in the door empowered and leaving proud that they made a choice and no one made it for them. They love the fact that we have volunteer escorts who arrive rain or shine and are incredibly relieved when they are given this information.

I recently had a patient who was a young girl, about 19, with a slight mental handicap. She and her mother called the clinic several times to ask questions and since I had given them my name on the initial call, I probably spoke with them about 10 times before they even came in. They asked all of the most logical questions about our services and had a bit of trouble with scheduling, but they were so patient and so nice and worked with us without complaint to come in for the appointment. I was at a conference on the day that this patient was actually seen and never got to meet her face to face. About a week after her appointment I received a call from the patient’s mother who had questions about post-abortion symptoms. When she found out it was me on the phone she was so grateful and thanked me for doing my job and fighting for choice. I spoke with the patient a few days later to check in on her and she was so happy with her experience and that things had turned out ok. The patient and her mother were able to learn from her experience and what it means to have a choice. I wrote them a letter a few days later to say thank you and I was sorry I never got to meet them in person.

Non-abortion medical providers and community members alike need to speak out about the outrageous rules and amendments that are being passed that are limiting patient’s resources for good medical care in regards to abortion services. A lot of providers are happy to refer to our clinic for services, but very few speak out about having a choice. They don’t understand what it’s like to go to a doctor for a simple medical procedure and be harassed and intimidated and maybe even put down by your family and friends. They walk through the doors of their offices every day without so much as a second thought. They don’t need to look behind them. Abortion needs to be normalized and understood and right now we are far from that. The more physicians and nurses that speak out, the better. Clinics are seen as bad, dirty, or evil places and to be honest, I only see love and compassion when I walk in these doors. We are not asking for money, we don’t ask for these people to come work with us, but verbal support and activism are the first step.

I am Dr. Tiller.

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