People's Hearing for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology

Diane Derzis, owner of the last abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi: "I am so proud to say I am an abortionist."

August 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Diane Derzis is the owner of the Mississippi Women’s Health Clinic—also known as the Pink House—the only remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. She participated in the Abortion Rights People’s Hearing in Mississippi on August 7, 2015. The following is excerpted from her presentation.

Diane Derzis

Diane Derzis at the People's Hearing in Mississippi, August 7, 2015.
Read more and watch video of the hearing

Today I was doing what I do best, and that was shopping. [Laughter] And I was in the store and this woman asked me.... she said, “What brings you?” She saw the Alabama tags, she said, “What brings you to Mississippi?” And I said, “I have a business here.” This was outside of Jackson. She said, “What kind of business?” I said, “An abortion clinic. The only abortion clinic in Mississippi.” And she was a young white woman, and she said, “I would imagine you don’t tell a lot of people that, because of the way things are here.” And I said, “Oh, no, no, I tell everybody that.” [Applause] “Because I am so proud to say I am an abortionist. I am so proud to say that.” [Applause]

And she looked at me and she said, (and this is how I feel about some of the stories tonight) she said, “When I was very young, I was beaten and raped. I was in a coma, for two weeks. They didn’t think I would live.” She said, “I was so torn up I needed plastic surgery on my face. So torn up that they couldn’t do the abortion until I was six weeks.” And she said... I mean I have to tell you it was like that’s the worst kind of story to hear.

You know every abortion is as important as any other abortion. And every woman’s reason is as important as every other woman’s. But when you hear about a woman who needed plastic surgery, and whose vagina was so irreparably damaged, and she said, “No I’m fine. I’ve always been fine. I didn’t want children then. I don’t want children now.” Then she said to me, “But that choice has to be there for women. So I appreciate what you do.”

And I think that’s what you’ve been doing here, which is so important and that’s going to the community and talking to women. Because that’s what’s missing in this movement, and that is the stories. ’Cause that’s what counts: physical women.

One out of three have had abortions. I’ve had an abortion. How many people in this room have had an abortion? Don’t, alright you know it’s... that’s what’s out there. Women we walk past on the sidewalk, women we see, those women have been in the same place we’ve been. But for whatever reason, they don’t talk about that. And that’s OK too. They don’t have to talk about that. But I think the stories are so important. And that’s part of the other thing I wanted to say.

All of us in this room are different people. We all believe in different things. And that is what I love about Stop Patriarchy. We share one thing, whether you’re a capitalist pig, like I am, [laughter] we share one thing. We believe the woman is the only person who needs to be making that decision. That we trust women to make those decisions. And I think that’s what we’ve got to remember, is that we all are different in this country, we all have different things, we all have different agendas. We all have different reasons for doing what we do. But the important thing is that we believe in this issue.


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