Pro-Abortion Activist Complains About Movement

In a 2012 post, an abortion clinic worker over at Abortion Gang complains about problems with the pro-choice movement:

A co-worker once told me that in her 10+ years of working in the reproductive health field, her peers in other movements validated time and again that our movement is the most f@cked up. Not f@cked up because we don’t have our hearts in the right place (we do) or because we don’t have science on our side (we do), but because of the way we treat each other, and the way our intra-movement politics operate.

Every so often several friends and I debate the merits of “outing” certain organizations for their legendary bullshit. Everyone knows that organization A has an executive director who’s a megalomanic. Everyone knows that two particular organizations bully other smaller organizations. Everyone knows that organization B likes to fire (almost) everyone every couple of years. Everyone knows that certain national organizations have less than cordial relationships with their local affiliates. Is there merit in pinning a name to these claims? What would happen to the person who decided to to do so? Would she be ex-communicated from the movement? Lose the ability to work or volunteer in the movement ever again?

She then goes on to describe what it’s like to work in an abortion clinic, all the faults of the administration:

In an effort to be less vague, let me make it painfully obvious. Here are a few clues that the reproductive health, rights, or justice organization you work at may be a toxic work environment:

o    You’re expected to treat your members/patients/donors better than the way your boss/upper management treats you.

o    You’re afraid to confront your co-worker/your boss about something racist/classist/transphobic/etc she said for fear of losing your job.

o    You don’t get insurance coverage. The insurance coverage you get doesn’t cover pre-natal care, contraception, or abortion. You don’t get decent maternity or paternity leave. Yet these are all values your organization supposedly champions.

o    There is frequent turn over and burn-out because of low pay and high stress.

o    Your volunteers, interns, or anyone with “assistant” in their title are treated as a commodity.

o    Young people, people of color, and/or queer folks are not valued, are not expected to be leaders, and are tokenized.

o    When you give thoughtful feedback about your job or about the organization in general, no one takes you seriously.

o    Your organization primarily works with or on behalf of low-income communities, communities of color, and/or young people, yet those folks are not represented on the staff or on the board. And there are no conversations about class, race, or privilege among staff. Ever.

o    You see young people being encouraged to take on responsibilities for which they are not being paid, for the good of the organization and therefore the movement.

o    You find yourself having to mask your work conditions, including poor communication, bad management, and unclear organizational goals, while selling your organization to donors and supporters.

o    You are underpaid and are made to feel uncomfortable for any mention of that, or for requesting to be paid fairly, because times are tough/the economy is bad/you should be putting the organization’s needs before your own.

o    Your organization only cares about marginalized people in a marginalized place (hello, low-income Texan women!) when your org stands to make a buck off of promoting their rough situation.

Toxic Work Environments in the Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice World Abortion Gang 2012/04/25/

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About Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a freelance writer and journalist who works for Live Action. She is a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life.
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One Response to Pro-Abortion Activist Complains About Movement

  1. As long as your’e a an employee you always have no say!

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