When I met her, I didn't know her story. I didn't ask. I know enough to know that each woman has her own story, her own journey that has brought her to the moment where she must decide. I sat with her while she waited, asking if she had any questions. She didn't, she just felt a little bit nervous about the procedure she was about to undergo. She was quite calm considering it was her first time. She had waited long enough to get to this moment. She was supposed to be here a month ago, but she needed more time to scrummage up the money. And she was so young. She had to be about 16 or 17. But I didn't ask.
Her partner held her hand during the pre-procedure ultrasound. As the physician switched from the trans-vaginal probe to the trans-abdominal probe to "see better," I knew something was wrong. She was too far along. In the extra time she spent gathering enough funds for the abortion, she had crossed over the maximum threshold that could be taken care of in this particular clinic. She had waited long enough, and we had to turn her away.
We referred her somewhere where she could get the services she needed, but this somewhere was even father away, and most likely even more expensive. And her window of opportunity would not be open very much longer. The reality of her hopeless situation set in on me, the endless slue of hurdles society throws at women, and I felt so upset for her. But she was so calm. She thanked us for our time, and quietly left the clinic. She didn't get angry, she didn't cry. She simply thanked us.
As I drove home, I wondered if she would find the strength to overcome the additional obstacles thrown at her. I pondered how she had gotten to this point, but I knew it didn't matter. What mattered is that this women needed our help, and it breaks my heart that we weren't able to give it to her. The more I thought about it, the more I found tears streaming down my face. How could she be so calm and gracious in such a hopeless, disappointing situation? I truly hope she finds the help she needs.