part of Funding The Frontlines: A Roadmap To Supporting Health Equity Through Abortion Access
Senior movement associate Brandi Collins-Calhoun has a conversation with We Testify storyteller Angel about her abortion story. Angel explains her experience living in Amarillo, Texas where she had no local access to an abortion clinic and was required to travel four hours to Alburquerque, New Mexico for her procedure.
Angel shares the obstacles and barriers she faced while trying to access her abortion, from childcare to procedure and travel costs. She also discusses her experience with a local crisis pregnancy center – a source of support during prior pregnancies – that quickly became yet another obstacle as staff there attempted to interfere with her choice to not proceed with this pregnancy,
Brandi: Thank you so much for talking with NCRP and telling us your story. Can you share your name, pronouns, your age when you had your abortion and the state that you lived in.
Angel: Yes Ma’am, my name is Angel, and my pronouns are her/she. And the state that I was living in was Texas.
Brandi: Okay, and can you tell us about your abortion.
Angel: Yes, I was 20 years old when I had my abortion. I had my abortion in 2019,and I had traveled from Texas to New Mexico to have my abortion. I had got pregnant just a couple months after I just had a baby and I wasn’t in a good financial situation and I also was not in a good relationship at the time, and I knew I could not have another baby. It was already hard having the baby I just had, and she was my second. I also was working for a lawn company just making minimum wage, which was $7.25 and it was just not a good idea to have another baby just yet.
Brandi: Okay, and how many clinics were there in the area that you lived in?
Angel: In area that I live in there is no abortion clinics, there are pregnancy crisis centers and, at the time they were called Care Net, but now they’re called Hope Choice. I had always gone to Care Net for every time I had got pregnant, my first and my second at the time. For both of those pregnancies, I went for my sonograms and my proof of pregnancy. And then after they help you with formula, diapers, wipes and while you’re pregnant they help with maternity clothes. They also do help with baby food, and just different things and any items that were donated to them, they help with.
They do advertise that they do not provide abortion services, but they did say they provide information on them, and they provide information on adoptions and just other options that you could look into being that they’re a pregnancy crisis center. I never had an issue with them, they were always my go to. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I had set up an appointment for my proof of pregnancy and to get a sonogram. Whenever I went to that appointment, I went in to take the pregnancy test and to get my proof of pregnancy and when they were going to give me my proof of pregnancy and they asked me about my baby I had just had, and I let them know that I wasn’t going to follow through with this pregnancy. When I let them know that they were not going to give me my proof of pregnancy. They actually brought in all the staff that were working that day from the office and they came in and kind of gave me like an intervention and were telling me that if I had an abortion that God wouldn’t accept me anymore, and that what I was doing was wrong. Basically, it kind of affected my decision but it didn’t. So, with that, I mean it bothered me, but I just told them that I was just going to follow through with it and I ended up not following through with it.
WeTestify Founder Executive Director Renee Bracey Sherman writes how we cannot undo the harm of white supremacy without confronting the real experiences of the people it impacts.
Key to that and reproductive justice are the stories — and storytellers — of Black and other people of color.
“They’ve been closest to the pain, so they must be closest to the power. That can only happen if storytelling is invested in as a way of organizing and building the power of people who have abortions, and then seats at the table are created for us to sit in and imagine a different world.”
I just didn’t want them to not give me that information because I really needed that proof of pregnancy and that sonogram in order to go through with my appointment.
Brandi: I’m sorry that you had to navigate through that and that folks that you trusted in your previous pregnancies kind of put you in a hard position. So, I know you mentioned that you had to travel to New Mexico, for your abortion, what steps, or what exactly did it look like for you to get to New Mexico and back for your procedure.
Angel: So, when I had scheduled my appointment for the abortion it was kind of like I’m just going to go ahead and schedule this, but I don’t know how I’m going to go through with it because I live in Amarillo, and I was going to Albuquerque and that’s about a four-hour drive. And having two kids at the time, not knowing who I would have watch my kids without anyone knowing where I was going and without missing too much work. And, just like trying to figure it all out and then the date that I got was so soon, everything was just last minute and then having the cost of the procedure, I just knew I couldn’t afford that. So, I went to Google, and I just thought like okay well, maybe there’s somewhere I can get help, and I just typed in Google funding for abortion, and it popped up like a whole list of different agencies that help fund. I just started clicking and calling and leaving voicemails. I just said something is better than nothing, I mean the worst that can happen is I get a no and either I would have to end up going through with this pregnancy, or I might have to risk spending the money that I knew I needed for my bills and everything I needed at that moment to go through with this. I was put between a rock and a hard place trying to figure out what I needed to do and thankfully I did get quite a few phone calls back and I was able to get most of my procedure covered and gas, and my stay, and then, when I got to the clinic in Albuquerque they had funding and were able to cover the rest of my procedure, so my money that I came with I got to keep. Then getting to the clinic, Southwestern Woman’s Options, it was just like it went so smoothly, it was just like you get inside, the people are nice, and kind and they tell you everything that’s going to happen. They run down the list like A,B,C and D and there’s no surprises, everything was told to you. I mean it was it was very easy and comforting and then you talk to the counselor beforehand, it was just the experience that I felt like I needed. I just feel like I needed that experience with the people in the clinic here in Amarillo that I didn’t get, so it just made me feel so much better that there were people who were on my side and people who weren’t judging me for something that I wanted to do to better myself.
Brandi: And can I ask how many days of travel, you had to do for your procedure.
Angel: I was originally supposed to go and stay one night, I had left that morning and my appointment was at 10, so I think I left around like five o’clock in the morning and I got there and it’s an hour behind. So, I got there an hour before my appointment, then I was supposed to stay that night, but I just I didn’t want to stay, I wanted to just get back home, and get my kids so I came right back. I did eight hours of driving and one day.
Brandi: You drove yourself to and from your appointment.
Angel: And that was another thing, I know you’re supposed to have someone with you, and I was going to have someone with me, the father of the baby, but he ended up not wanting to go with me. He actually flipped on my decision too and couldn’t believe that I was going to go through with it. But I knew it was something I needed to do, and so I still went, and I just had to go by myself, I mean I didn’t have anyone else to go with me.
I just knew it needed to be done and I guess I just had to be there for myself.
Brandi: I understand. Is there any additional support from the clinic or the funds that helped you that you think would have been more helpful, or do you feel that the folks on the ground did everything they could and really showed up and covered as much as you know, was needed.
Angel: Yes, from Fund Texas Choice, her name was Sarah Lopez, she was there for me the whole time. She was keeping up with me, she texted me and asked how far I was and, even with the whole situation when I had to turn around and take the father back because he didn’t want to go anymore, she was there with me then. Every time I stopped, she was checking in with me and when I made it there, she was checking in, asking me how I was and if I needed anything or if I wanted to talk. She actually made my trip so much better, and I knew that everything was going to be okay, and I knew no matter what that I had her on that trip.
Brandi: I’m happy that you were able to have that support. My last question is, I know that you have been a part of We Testify as a storyteller, and I would love to know what abortion storytelling means for you or how has it helped you regarding your abortion.
Angel: It means a lot to me because it’s helped me understand, like in the beginning, my baby daddies family would call me a murderer, a baby killer and things like that, and I was letting that stuff get to me until I got into storytelling. Deep down, I knew I had to do what I had to do and when I got into storytelling and started telling my story and hearing other people’s stories I realized more, it’s not about them, it was about me and my decision and my life.
Just telling my story over and over and listening to other stories, it really makes me happy that I made the decision that I did because I wasn’t going off a decision that someone else was trying to make for me, I went off a decision that I was able to make for myself. It’s my life, you know, I’m living my life, and everyone else’s is living theirs and the fact that I did something that I knew was best for me and, the fact that I had that choice is the reason why I want to continue to share the story. I don’t want other women to feel like they have to go off what other people think or be scared of what they’ll be called or what people will think about them, because I was like that. But now I encourage other women and the girls I know, and my friends, who were scared to have an abortion, because of what people would think about them, I’ve encouraged them to go through with what they want to do and not to feel bad because it’s their life and it’s their choice.
So, storytelling has really brought out that side of me because I used to be so shy and scared and now, I’m not. Now I don’t care, I used to be scared who would find out if I had an abortion, but now I’ll tell anyone I had an abortion, and I’m proud of it because I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if I didn’t do that. If I couldn’t have that choice, if that wasn’t an option for me, I would not be where I’m at today. So, the fact that I have that option, and I was able to do that, I want to continue to share my story to let everyone know that it’s okay to do what you feel like is best for yourself.
Brandi: Thank you so much for sharing what storytelling means to you, the way that funds have shown up for you, sharing your experience with your abortion and the crisis pregnancy Center. And really for your transparency, I think that this is something that so many people need to hear more of because, like you said it plays that role and removing the shame and the stigma around making a choice and being empowered and your autonomy, so thank you for sharing.
Funding the Frontlines:
A Roadmap to Supporting Health Equity
through Abortion Access
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