I was nervous before my abortion. Even though I was confident in my decision to end my pregnancy, and even though I knew I would receive excellent care, I found myself shaking as I climbed onto the exam table.
My doctor and nurse weren’t in the room yet, but a patient advocate was. Her name was Katie, she told me warmly, promising to hold my hand until the procedure was over. Katie, who spends her days supporting patients during their abortion procedures, had developed a special talent for sensing if a patient needed a quiet reassurance, distraction, or a few gentle jokes to lighten the mood; in her presence, the groups of intimidating protesters shouting and bearing graphic signs right outside the clinic seemed far removed. Though I spent less than 15 minutes with Katie, I’ve never forgotten her. Today, as I observe National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, I think about all she did for me, about the immense gratitude we owe to the women and men who help women obtain safe and legal abortions.
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