I’m currently sitting at the library across the street from my clinic. Normally I do so to observe protesters, but today I’m just killing time until my annual appointment. This year this appointment includes a pap smear.
I am terrified.
Pap smears are generally uncomfortable and invasive for me as it is. The terrifying aspect comes from one particular pap smear from 2011. It was not only discovered that I have HPV, but my results came back abnormal and had to get biopsies taken. It was so painful that I had a panic attack after the doctor finished snipping tiny pieces from inside me. Thankfully, they didn’t detect cancer, but have been terrified of pap smears ever since between that experience plus my mother having a medical history with pre-cancerous cervical polyps.
Pap smears suck. Abnormal test results suck. Biopsies suck. Cancer scares suck.
The other thing that sucks is knowing I’ll have to walk past at least one terribly ignorant anti-abortion protester that has no business being there. When I came into the library, there was one lone middle aged woman—a rare sight in a protest typically made up of older men—sitting on the sidewalk holding one anti-abortion sign while having another leaned up against the wall next to her.
Maybe some would be quick to say “Ignore them”, “Don’t let them bother you”, etc. But it DOES bother me!
My appointment with my trusted healthcare provider doesn’t feel private anymore with the eyes of ignorant protesters watching me. Do they judge me? Do they wonder if the strained and worried look on my face is because I have an unplanned pregnancy I want to abort rather than being terrified of another cancer scare? The Pastor made such an assumption with a mother and daughter he observed about a year ago. I might pick up some birth control before I leave. The protesters know what the paper bags are for. Do they look at my paper bag of birth control and assume that I’m some whore that sleeps around because I use the pill to ward off a pregnancy I don’t want?
Yet, for the most part, I don’t care what these people think about me. But it isn’t just me experiencing this. Other women, who may be feeling as vulnerable as I am right now for whatever reason, have to go through this when they shouldn’t. Women deserve better than being confronted outside their healthcare provider and possibly be intimidated by opinionated zealots that are part of a deceptive movement that think it is their God given right telling women what is best for them!