Revolution Interview:

"This is one of the most special places I've ever been."

Diane Derzis, owner of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, speaks out about legal threats to her clinic, her own abortion, anti-abortion violence, and the joy of serving women.

An interview by Sunsara Taylor | November 11, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview: A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


On November 5, in the midst of a week-long mobilization by anti-abortion fanatics against the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, Diane Derzis, the clinic owner, sat down for an interview with Sunsara Taylor. Just days before, a panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, ruled that a new abortion restriction in Texas would go into immediate effect, thereby closing down abortion services at 13 clinics in that state. Mississippi has passed a similar law that would have the effect of closing the Jackson Women's Health Organization and, although the clinic is challenging the law in court, the decision on this will be made by the same court in New Orleans. This bodes very, very badly for the women of Mississippi. The following interview explores the implications of this decision as well as many other questions surrounding the increasing state of emergency regarding abortion rights nationwide.

Sunsara Taylor: So I am sitting here with Diane Derzis inside the clinic that she owns, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, which is the very last abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi. She is a very courageous woman, and I want to first of all thank you for sitting down and doing this interview.

Diane Derzis: I am happy to.

Taylor: I want to talk to you about a number of things: about how you got involved in providing abortions, about how you see the battle overall, but I guess since I got down here to Jackson, I knew there was going to be Operation Save America in town, possibly terrorizing the clinic, laying siege to the city, all of this. But when we got down here the situation actually got much worse with this new ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans which ruled that there would be immediate enforcement of the Texas hospital admitting privileges law for abortion doctors, thereby shutting down abortion services at 13 clinics throughout that state. And this has implications for Mississippi as well, so I wondered if you could begin by speaking for a minute on what is the state of emergency with abortion rights here in Mississippi.

Derzis: I think it's now hopefully apparent to people in this country that we are on a very slim thread, losing this right completely. This is the same circuit that we are in front of. We knew it was one of the worst in the country, we've known that all along, but I don't think anyone realized... you know we've talked about it for years, "We are losing this right. We are losing this right," and it's kind of like an old fairy tale. But now you're seeing 13, at least 13 clinics closed in Texas. And we have to realize that we could very well be next. There's just no... We've relied too much on the courts. I think we've all known that for many years, but we're on a course where there really wasn't any other option till we see organizing of grassroots people who are demanding their rights as women and men and families, it's only going to worsen. I mean, right now the women in Texas are hanging with Justice Scalia, the worst justice—well, I'm not sure he is the worst, we still have Clarence Thomas—but one of the worst justices on the [Supreme] Court. And to think that the women of Texas are relying on Antonin Scalia to decide whether or not this should even be heard. It's frightening. Very frightening.

Taylor: And so the law that you are talking about is the hospital admitting privileges law.

Derzis: Right.

Taylor: And that's the one that was passed in Mississippi.

Derzis: Absolutely. Last year. And this clinic made application to I think nine hospitals within a 30-mile radius and we were turned down immediately and the reason given—you know, people like to talk about this is because we're so bad that hospitals don't want us—but the reason was each one of those hospitals made the statement that they were unable to deal with the [anti-abortion] community that would have happened for this. And I always say to people here, "If Governor Bryant were so concerned about the women of Mississippi, why didn't he pick up the telephone and call those hospital administrators and say, 'Of course you're going to grant those privileges, aren't you.'" These guys know what kinds of laws they are passing. The state of Mississippi, each year they have passed a bad law and we have been able to comply. We have a transfer agreement. We have a doctor who has backup privileges and who has admitting privileges. But, then when they said every doctor has to have admitting privileges they knew. And I would say to the press at that time, "How many phone calls do you think these hospital administrators get a day from these anti-choice people all over the country demanding they not even think about this?" Can you imagine a hospital emergency room surrounded by these protesters? I mean, if any other business had to go through what abortion clinics in this country have to go through, I don't think they'd survive.

Taylor: One of the things that is commonly argued right now among people who support abortion rights, they try to make the argument—and of course, it is a true argument—that abortion is health care. And I think it is very true that it is a basic part of women's health care.

Derzis: It should be.

Taylor: Yeah, exactly. At the same time, that argument kind of obscures what you are describing because there's no protesters around other health care.

Derzis: No.

Taylor: So why do you think there's so much of a bull's-eye and an angry mobilized movement against this particular procedure?

Derzis: I think several reasons, and I think probably early on we contributed to this when we made ourselves self-standing entities, when we took ourselves out of hospitals. It's easy for a woman to go to a hospital and no one knows why she is there. But then we have watched over the years these anti-choice people put pressure on these hospitals so that now most hospitals in the country don't even offer abortion training. All these hospitals that are being consumed by the Catholic hospitals, for God's sakes. If women only knew what they are giving up.

I mean, I have a friend in the Gulf Shores and she was pregnant and she was just so ecstatic. She was 43 and she had a 25-year-old son and this was like a blessing. And she Facebooked everybody she was 20 weeks pregnant and she was on her way to the doctor to find out the sex. And so on Facebook she says, "Stay tuned, stay tuned, we'll let you know," and she gets there and the tech says, "Oooh, I don't see a heartbeat."

Taylor: Oh wow.

Derzis: The doctor comes in and he pulls out his little Bible, he happened to have one in his pocket. This is true, this just happened last month. He just happened to have one in his pocket and he said, "God handles these kinds of things. You might have one day of life, no days of life, a hundred years of life, but this is part of life. We're a faith-based institution and you have a dead baby." This goes on, so he said to her, "You can come in the morning and we can induce labor." And realize, she would be on the maternity floor with women who are ecstatic about having their babies and she's going to go through six to 48 hours of labor to produce a dead baby. No mention of going to an abortion clinic, this would not even have been an abortion clearly because it is a dead fetus. But then somehow this "baby" became a "fetus" a couple hours into this.

Taylor: You mean the fetus became a "baby."

Derzis: No. The "dead baby" became a "fetus." So the doctor says to the couple, "By the way, at this stage of pregnancy this is a fetus and we've got two options here. You can go to a funeral home and have a funeral or a memorial or whatever. Or, give this fetus to us to check, it could save other babies down the line."

Taylor: Research.

Derzis: Right. So, I'm thinking this is real interesting how "babies" become "fetuses" again in faith-based institutions if it's to their advantage. But, long story short, the deal with this woman is she was in labor 28 hours and she said they were wonderful, the nurses were wonderful. But she had a dead baby. Instead of sending her to a clinic, or if a doctor in that hospital had been able to do a D&E [dilation and extraction] and remove the dead fetus.

Taylor: What would that have entailed?

Derzis: It would have been maybe an hour of cytotec to ripen the cervix to have her dilate and then a 10-minute procedure. Instead of this. It would have been easier, but that wasn't even an option for her.

Taylor: Emotionally, physically, it would have been easier.

Derzis: Absolutely. And, economically. I mean, I was thinking if white women knew. I mean, somehow it's okay when we don't think about poor people, but if women of privilege who've been accustomed to be able to walk into their doctor's office and demand whatever they need, find out that that is not available to them anymore. You know how many times I have a woman—and I am a woman of privilege so it's not that at all, but how many times I hear a woman say, "What do you mean I can't go to my doctor's office? I've got to come to a clinic?" Because "clinic" means poor women.

I'm digressing, but this is what happens to health care in this country right now surrounding abortion. Which is back to your original question. Abortion is a political issue now. It's not health care. We're looking at a procedure nine to 14 times safer than childbirth. Safer, statistically, than a shot of penicillin. And we are passing these kinds of laws... making surgery centers out of abortion clinics? We've got doctors doing plastic surgery, doing bariatric [weight-loss] surgery, doing procedures in their offices under absolutely no regulation, and yet we're doing this to an abortion clinic?

I've always thought about it, what if the Jehovah Witnesses or whoever it is that doesn't believe in blood banks, do you think this country would allow a band of them to close down our blood banks? But this is going to happen. I mean, you can't sit by and watch them pick off some people and not think that they are not going to come for you next.

Taylor: So you were talking about women who just take for granted their medical care and abortion services as part of that and you were contrasting that especially for people reading this who are not down here in Mississippi who maybe live in some of the urban areas or places where this right is more accessible and taken for granted. Why don't you describe some of the conditions for women here and the women you serve at your clinic, a little bit about what they have to go through.

Derzis: I'm not sure, though, that it is not in your area, maybe they should start looking because I will tell you even three or four years ago there were obviously patients who were, say, on Coumadin, which is a blood thinner, or women who have some kind of an underlying disease that should be seen in a hospital, but even for them there are no hospitals that do abortions. In Birmingham, Alabama, the largest, one of the largest, most respected medical centers in the country couldn't make a referral. I had to refer patients to Emory University in Atlanta. I mean, that's the kind of... women have no idea.

For years I haven't done business with someone who doesn't support women's reproductive rights. I'm not going to see a doctor, I don't care what kind of doctor they are, I ask on the telephone are you pro-choice? Now they may or may not get back to you because this works two ways. One of my staff people the other day, she was telling me she went into the new doctor and she saw pro-life literature in his waiting office and she said, are you aware, and he said, yeah, I put it out there. And she said, well, that's the last time you'll see me and she got up and walked out. And until women start doing that, things aren't going to change. It's just not going to happen.

Here, though, in Mississippi because women are so poor there is a clear disparity of the rural areas and the women in the Delta and for those women you realize they're having to take off work for the first day to get here, that 24-hour waiting period is deadly, they're taking off work, they're finding child care, they're finding the gas to get here. Then they have to turn around and come back the next day, so that time spent can actually put them into another trimester of pregnancy which can, in fact, increase their fee. You know this state is number one in infant mortality, number one in maternal mortality, number one in teenage pregnancy, I mean, these are just horrible things. We were talking earlier, they've reduced the food stamp money here. We keep saying that you can't have it both ways but they are; I mean, I guess we're going to see a nation that looks like Africa. I don't know what the other option is.

Taylor: When we were speaking before, and when I've heard you speak very unapologetically about women's need for abortion, that this is a positive thing that women should talk about it, they should hold their heads up about it, I wonder if you can just speak about how you see that.

Derzis: That's how I got into this field. I had an abortion after I got married at 19. Both of us were virgins. I mean, I wasn't using birth control. You know, you think back how crazy you are. But, regardless, I find out I'm pregnant, I was horrified, absolutely horrified. There were not clinics at that time but there was a doctor who charged $125. You went in, you pulled up your skirt, you pulled down your panties and you got on the table. He said to me, "You didn't have a problem spreading your legs before. If you can't spread them now, I'm not going to see you." I mean, I can't tell you something that I did yesterday, but I can remember that to this day. But I'll tell you one thing: thank God he was there; thank God he did a safe abortion on me.

That is what led... I got home and the next day there was some woman running for president or something on the right-to-life ticket and there were fetuses all over the television. I just was incensed, what in God's name, and when that first clinic opened I bugged them for six months until they hired me, and I couldn't believe I got paid $5 an hour to counsel. And it's been my passion ever since because if women can't make that decision we can't make any decision. We can't. How do you work if you have no child care? It's a Catch -22. Now some of us aren't designed to be parents, this society feels like somehow if you don't have children there's something wrong with you. Do I get pissed every time I see the Duggar family? I read last night, I didn't realize they were being used by the "pro-life" movement, that makes me even more insane. We have television stations awarding them parents of the year, for what? These are litters. Anybody can have a litter. We get upset about dogs having litters. When you've got 19 kids, that is absolutely, I mean, that is shameful, how do you support 19 children? Now I'm the one being judgmental.

Taylor: But the woman, the last child, her life was in danger and the "pro-lifers" had this whole campaign to pray for her, upholding her like she's doing the right thing, as if a woman should be commended for risking her life, like David Gunn was talking about the other day about the zombie apocalypse [David Gunn, Jr., son of the first abortion doctor to be assassinated, had spoken recently on a panel about how in the TV series, The Walking Dead, the woman couldn't bring herself to have an abortion even when the fetus growing within her was a zombie who would kill her], and then you should still have the fetus. But that message is being hammered at women, that compared to the fetus, "Your life doesn't matter."

Derzis: And I always hear "selfish." Women are selfish if they don't want to have children. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to have kids. You know, I thank God every day that was a decision I made not to have children, and I thank God every day I made that decision. But I understand and I support a woman's right to have as many children as she wants, it's just we all know there are consequences for any behaviors we choose. Women have got to be the ones who make the decision. It can't be the male, it can't be society, it has to be her. And I think clearly that's wrong with the anti-choice people, they're anti-women. People always say that if men got out of this and left it to women [the right to abortion would be protected] but that's not true because some of the most vicious people are women on this other side; they have no power now, they answer to men and it's always clear that the women outside these clinics follow the leadership of the man out there.

Taylor: The other day you spoke about we need to change the way people feel about abortion, we have to change hearts and minds on this. We have to change the situation so that people who support abortion rights feel they can speak up about it. I know huge numbers of people do not believe that women should be forced to have children against their will, they really feel this bone deep, but they are scared to say so out loud. But anti-abortion people feel they could talk about it all the time.

Derzis: Not only can they talk about it, they can come have abortions and then go back on the line. I mean, seriously, it's a horrible, horrible thing. You know, I think we've got to embrace, do I think my abortion was a moral choice? Absolutely, no question. Women who walk in these clinics, in every instance I've seen a woman who is a moral agent making a moral choice. Have many of these women struggled with this decision, no question. But there are many women who don't. There are many women who know immediately, just like I did, I don't want to have a baby. I'm not going to have a baby. And many people don't understand the issue that adoption and abortion are two totally separate things. Women who abort or think about abortion are not going to give a child up for adoption and that is across the board. You ask any provider in this country and you'll see those are two diametrically opposed things. A woman who has an abortion never considered adoption.

Taylor: Why?

Derzis: For a woman who gives a child up for adoption, I have the absolute utmost respect. To imagine wondering for the rest of your life where that child is, what that child is doing, and I know there are those who would say you would rather "kill" but it's a totally different thing. Do I think that's selfless? Yes. But I think that having an abortion is selfless. Because the easiest thing to do in this society is to have a baby, whether you can afford one or not, whether you take care of one or not, whether you want one or not. Those same people who have problems with abortion don't want to feed these babies and I think that until people are faced with that, how many of these Tea Party people and all these people who are against abortion, they're anti-women, they're anti-sex. For many of them this is punishment: she laid down, she spread her legs, she gets what she deserves. What a hell of a way to think about having a child.

I mean, that says a lot about the society. I find that people who are pro-choice are far more cognizant of the importance of life. Abortion is definitely a moral choice and we've got to reclaim that ground. That's why women need to be able to say, yes, I made that decision—whatever it was, whether it was hard or wasn't hard. I was telling a friend earlier today, for those of you who can't talk about this issue hopefully you can talk about it in your home or you can talk about it with a friend and I think that's now what we're asking you to do, start the conversation, make a difference on a smaller level; that's how the dominos start. If you just do it amongst yourselves. If you don't feel you can write a letter to the editor, make a phone call to Rush Limbaugh or whatever, find something you are comfortable doing, you can feel proud.

I think we've let society shame us for making a decision that saved our lives or saved the lives of our family. I watch it myself when we start talking about stories, I always find myself going for those hard ones: let me tell you about a 12-year-old. Then there is that side of my head that says why don't I tell you about the 25-year-old woman who just doesn't want to be a mother. Her story is no different and not in any way lessened because we think she should have known better. You know, there are rape victims, there are incest victims, there are what we see are economic reasons for abortion. A family, a woman who is a single provider and she's got two kids and one more would throw the balance completely off. She makes a decision to have an abortion because she's saving her family; she's saving their lives and we don't give her credit for that.

Taylor: You are facing down the barrel of a legal gun right now with this court decision in New Orleans and the implications for your clinic here in Mississippi, with Bryant as governor, I don't know if you want to say anything about him, I think people around the country don't understand who he is, etc. I want to bring up that Stop Patriarchy has been making the point repeatedly that it is immoral to abandon the women of Mississippi, and that it is delusional to think that if this clinic falls that it is not going to spread. So, I wonder if you have any message for people around the country about what kind of historic moment we're in, what would you say to people?

Derzis: This is one of the most special places I've ever been. I love the people here, I love the women here. It brings me to tears to think about leaving these women with no options because that is what we're doing. If you would see the women that sell their cars or pawn things to come up with the money to buy gas to come here, and then find out that they're too far to be seen here, and that's kind of okay because that's just the way life is.

This is a Southern state, it's not an uppity state, I'm not sure that's the right word I want to use but that's what comes to mind. The expectations are so low that when they are turned away they go have a baby. That's what mama did, that's what grandmamma did. They were probably raised by grandma, and when you watch these women in their 30s bring their 15- or 16-year-olds here in tears, "I want more for my child than I had."

She knows how hard it has been for us and her sisters and brothers and it makes you realize how lucky you are, how lucky we are when a woman cut off from making a decision just plain accepts it because that's the way it is. There's that part of me, that angry part of me, that has allowed me to continue on with the clinic. Hell no that's not the way it is, whatever it takes I'm going to do.

We are closing out, that's what I think people have to know: we are closing people's lives. Abortion gives women a second chance. Abortion gives women the chance to make something of themselves. Not to say that if you're a mother you're not something, I'm not any way dismissing that, if that's what you choose to do. But if you're forced to do that, that's a different ball of wax. Does that make sense?

Taylor: It makes a lot of sense.

Derzis: These women; you know, I leave here and I learn so much and that's part of the beauty of this job, that I still learn. I learn from these women. You know, I heard Shannon [the clinic director], we had an 11-year-old in here this summer and the protesters were very violent that day and she was in tears and she came in and told mama she wasn't having an abortion. They called the cops. Now the police were already here because it was clearly a violation of the law because she was pregnant by someone who was older.

Taylor: The anti-abortion group called the cops?

Derzis: Yes, they called, but the cops were already coming, this was this young woman's first day. She gets into the back and can you imagine being 11 years old and ready to be a parent? Cuz he had told her that he wanted her to have his baby. She's 11, she's a baby. You know, you look and this child was a child; she had no breasts. You know, there are some 11-year-olds who look like they're 25; this one looked like an 11-year-old. And her mother was just in hysterics, "Oh my God, what am I going to do? She's my baby, what am I going to do?" Then I hear Shannon, who is the same color, and she says, "I have seven children," and she can talk and relate differently. And then Shannon is in tears because this is a memory too. You know, when we're talking about these babies, this is like dolls, this is like getting a new doll.

Taylor: I think that being a parent and sex are very similar in that they are two of the most extraordinary and wonderful things that humans can experience if they choose to and if they are done on the right basis, but when they are forced there is nothing that is more dehumanizing and degrading and enslaving.

Derzis: Absolutely right.

Taylor: My last question for you is, and it's a difficult one on one level because you have been on the front lines and you have been holding down the front lines for decades. You're not alone in that entirely but all too much providers have been alone. You've had a clinic bombed, you've had people lose their lives in that, you've been through legal battle after legal battle, I can't imagine all the dimensions of this. But what is your vision, if you could just pull back the lens and go to the white board; not just how do you save this clinic and keep this one alive and keep serving here and there, but what would be your vision of how this society ought to function in terms of the role of women, in terms of abortion access, in terms of what difference it would make, what kind of atmosphere it would require for abortion to be available on demand and without apology and what difference that would make for women?

Derzis: And how horrible that we're still having the same conversation, what, 40 years later?

Taylor: Yeah.

Derzis: I don't know what the answer is to that, Sunsara. But, you know, it clearly ought to be that every doctor did abortions. That there weren't clinics that were out there and alone. That we put it back into mainstream medicine. That we looked at clinics, if that's how it has to be, if you look at a clinic, we are a perfect model of health care. We do things economically, efficiently, and beautifully. I mean, you know, that's why abortion is as safe as it is now. That's another aside. I think until women demand their doctors do this... I think this is a long process, because it's been a long process that we've allowed it to be eroded. You know and tell your doctor, that's part of it. I mean, you can do that by yourself, that's not hard. No one has to know that you ask your doctor whether he or she is pro-choice and then you make a decision based on that. I don't eat at Domino's Pizza [the owner is rabidly anti-abortion and uses his profits to support the anti-abortion movement as well as biblical fundamentalism overall]. I mean, you know what? There's just some people I'm not going to do business with because they're not pro-woman. It's not just pro-choice, it's pro-woman. I don't know. I don't have the answer for you.

Taylor: Well, it's a conversation I think we have to start opening up.

Derzis: It's a fantasy.

Taylor: I don't think so, but I also think that if we don't start bringing it into the picture we will never fight for it.

Derzis: You are right. You are absolutely right.

Taylor: If we only fight against the latest outrage and we don't fight for the world that we want...

Derzis: No, you're absolutely right.

Taylor: And now I lied because I want to ask you another question. I actually can't believe I didn't bring it up by now, but I just followed our train of conversation and only remembered it until just now. I want to ask you about the clinic in Birmingham and what...

Derzis: What happened?

Taylor: know, maybe you have other stories you want to share about what it actually has meant to be on the front lines, with that bombing? And I know... I had worked closely with people who came down right afterwards, and read about that, but I think most people today don't even know that doctors have been killed, most people have no idea. So I just wonder what that was like and why you were so determined and out there the next day?

Derzis: It was just such an outrage, you know? And I think we do watch; you know, Dr. Gunn [the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion fanatic] actually worked for me, and I'll never forget hearing that they had just shot him. I was thinking, "Oh my God." And then Barrett. Then Britton. You know, I was living in Virginia at the time and my administrator called me and said, "Do you know the sirens you hear are coming for us? They just bombed the clinic," and hung up the phone, and there was no answer back. I turned on the TV, and CNN had it on and it's like, you're in a state six hours away, and your nurse is not expected to live, and they just killed a friend, he was a policeman, and you can't believe that it's your clinic. And the guilt you feel because you weren't there... But the positives of that: the clinic was closed a week, because it [the bomb] really wasn't designed to do the building, it was designed to kill people. And that officer saved the lives of so many patients because when you look at the trajectory of the shrapnel that went in the clinic...

Taylor: It was a nail bomb.

Derzis: Right! ...The FBI did pink ribbon strands to show where it actually landed and they went to the seats in the room, which means that was bullshit about him coming one time. That means someone had been in my clinic, someone knew. Those strands went directly for the receptionist and the people standing there, and every seat, went for a person who would have been sitting there. So Rudolph intended to kill patients, no question. The clinic was closed for a week. Then women were calling, and I never forget there were those huge TV vans across the street, four or five of them, and women walked through those TV vans to get an abortion a week later.

You know what? It doesn't make any difference because that's what people don't understand: women were willing to risk their lives prior to '73 [the year abortion became legal nationwide], they're willing to do that now, because a woman that finds out she's pregnant and doesn't want to be is going to do whatever it takes to get rid of that pregnancy.

Taylor: Who said that he only came once?

Derzis: It was the FBI.

Taylor: They said he only came once?

Derzis: Oh yeah, clearly this was a... I mean, you know, I believe all of these acts that they're all part of something: with the Army of God, that all of these people know. It's just like with Michael Griffin, Paul Hill, all of these people. They found people who were a little bit off to have them do the assassinations, but clearly this is not one lone person, these are people who have designed that we're going to die.

Taylor: And yet they've always been treated as a lone individual by the FBI and all this.

Derzis: Right. Well, take a look at the guy, Tiller's killer. You know, on his front seat is Cheryl Sullinger's name, she's a felon, and she is high up in, she was part of...

Taylor: She's co-chair of Operation Rescue.

Derzis: Absolutely right.

Taylor: Yeah, she came out and photographed the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and wrote articles about us this summer.

Derzis: Love it.

Taylor: Yeah.

Derzis: Yeah, and to think that she didn't have anything to do with that and nobody knew what he was doing? I mean, that is just so naïve if that's the case. I think the longer that's been washed under the rug... You know, this movement, these are terrorists. They're just like McVeigh, they're just like the Ku Klux Klan. I mean, this is al Qaeda on American soil.

Taylor: It is. And the only reason why this kind of violence is not happening as frequently these days, not that the threat of violence is at all over, but there is also not the same need for it because they have the courts and the legislation closing down abortion clinics so now so they can do it that way.

Derzis: You're right

Taylor: They have the big authority. They have the state terrorism to shut down women's clinics.

Derzis: You're absolutely right. As soon as they start... As soon as they get a bad ruling, you're going to see the killing of doctors start again. Not a doubt in my mind. But, you know, freedom's not free. And I think that's something that every abortion provider in this country knows, when he or she goes to work, that could be their last day.

Taylor: One of the things that I'll just say in concluding that you know, that we've raised this slogan everywhere we go, and that it's true, and many more people need to understand this, and take up the example of it: that the people who put their lives on the line to provide women with abortions, without that there would be no choice for women. Abortion providers are heroes. They should not be left by themselves. I mean, I understand, and respect, and I really appreciate that there are people who are determined that despite the threat, despite all of the insult, despite all of the dangers that come with being an abortion provider, and all the isolation that comes with it too, and these fears, that they're going to do it anyhow. And that's righteous. But we should never make peace. And all of us, especially people who are not playing that particular role, should never accept that should be the price that has to be paid.

Derzis: I agree with you. Along with that, though, goes the joy: watching women be given a second chance. Watching women have the ability to go to school, to continue their education, and become whoever they deem to be in society. I would not change this for the world. If I had to do over again, I would still choose this, and I've always said if, you know, I think all of us have made that decision. You know, we're all going to die. And if you die doing something you believe in, what else could you ask for? You know? It's just, this has been a wonderful, wonderful way to... And you know, that's what I always say to these people when they ask me, "How do you feel about yourself?" WONDERFUL, you know? [laughter] I sleep well at night because I think about how women...

It had to have been six months ago, I was in a grocery store and I asked this woman who was bending down, I said, "Is that juice good?" And she turned around and said, "It's great and so are you." And she got up, grabbed me and started crying, and she said, "You saved my life." Now this happens rarely, so don't get me wrong here. But it was like, oh my God, what a wonderful, you know, what more could one person ask for? To have even one person feel like that, to make a difference in one person's life... And that's why this has got to still remain available.

Taylor: I think that's a good note. I'm glad. I'm much more glad to end on the joy and I think that's...

Derzis: There really is. There's so much joy with this.

Taylor: Well, thank you so much.

Derzis: Thank you, I enjoyed it.


Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.