photo caption: Torre 17 • Tokyo, Japan
I had an abortion.
I remember the anxiety of being a 16-year old with a new license, driving over 30 minutes in stormy weather, on three separate occasions to secure Medi-Cal coverage.
I remember being forced to listen to the heartbeat, even though I asked not to.
I remember my guidance counselor excusing me from classes, agreeing to keep the matter confidential. I remember feeling alone in navigating the complexities of missing nearly two weeks of school, catching up on projects, and the guilt of lying to my teachers, friends, and parents. It wasn’t long before my parents discovered my secret – sudden morning sickness is hard to hide.
I remember having to visit the clinic four times before the procedure was scheduled.
I remember my Dad finding my Medi-Cal documents in the trash and learning that I was pregnant. My family asked me to carry to term, hoping to raise the child for me.
I remember receiving mandatory counsel through the clinic (that was biased toward birth and adoption alternatives), in what should have been a safe non-judgmental space, about my “pregnancy options” despite being resolute in my choice to abort.
I remember being called a whore while religious protestors prayed aloud for “the murdered children” as my chaperone helped me into the clinic.
I remember all the excruciating emotional build-up to my abortion. And the eternity in the waiting room with my parents.
I remember how quick the procedure was, how the doctor was the first person in the process that didn’t make me feel like I’d done something terribly wrong.
I remember the matrilineal care I was lucky to receive afterward. My aunt sent cookies. My Mom cared for me recognizing that I had just experienced physical and emotional trauma.
What if I didn’t have a car? What if I couldn’t afford the gas? What if I wasn’t a white cis-gendered woman with resources? What if I lived somewhere else in the country with active abortion bans?
What if Roe v. Wade were overturned?
Though I’m not ashamed of it, my experience is not something I would typically write or speak about. Instead, I’ve been hiding in the abstraction of the issue – avoiding my story while happily defending my belief (that all people should have safe, FREE, easy access to abortion) anytime, anywhere.
Yet, as Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance, this moment, for many of us, demands more. It demands our attention, our stories, and our action to protect and expand abortion care. Looking back, I’m not filled with regret, remorse, or shame…instead, I’m struck by two feelings: overwhelming worry and disappointment. Not disappointment for the accidental pregnancy or the abortion itself or even the astounding lack of teen sex education– I’m disappointed in the system itself and my access to care. I worry for people in states like Texas, but also for folks right here, in California, who struggle as I did. My worry is a deep-pit-in-the-stomach feeling that if my experience was traumatic as a white cisgendered 16-year-old living in upscale suburbia, in a state that touts some of the best abortion access in the country, then we have serious work ahead of us – both collectively and individually.
So let’s start here, on the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Let’s tell our stories, let’s show up in the small ways we can to create measurable outcomes that contribute to real change. Let’s ensure that all people, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, + folks working to make ends meet, get the abortion care they need when they need it.
My work, personally, is to pretend we’re old friends and tell you my story. To consider what brings me to this work and how to contribute to this movement in ways that are non-monetary.
Our work, as a Foundation, is continuing to iterate and find meaningful ways to advance abortion care in California. Beyond our reproductive justice policy wins and grantmaking, we have joined the Campaign to Liberate Abortion, a coalition of more than 100 organizations committed to expanding power, growing compassion, providing education, and building a groundswell of support for abortion access across the United States. With your support, this coalition is working towards that bold vision together, mobilizing and organizing for abortion freedom for all people.
I’m asking you to join us by taking action:
- Support your local clinics
- Tell your story or listen to others with radical tenderness
- Join the social media movement #LiberateAbortion
- Ensure everyone is able to afford their abortions – GIVE $$$
- Join our movement: https://www.liberateabortion.org/
- March, organize, sit, stand, speak, scream – just make your voice heard
- Read about what reproductive justice can look like in California and beyond.