part of Funding The Frontlines: A Roadmap To Supporting Health Equity Through Abortion Access
Presented below is the raw transcript of Movement Manager Brandi Collins-Calhoun’s conversation with We Testify storyteller Larada Lee about her abortion story.
Okay, so your name, age and where you got your abortion.
My name is Larada my age is 20. And I got my first abortion in Ohio.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. Can you tell us about your abortion story?
I found out that I was pregnant that like the worst possible time to find out that you’re pregnant. Um, it was like, right in the middle of the beginning of COVID. And the state of Ohio had just got shut down completely. And the school had also went completely virtual, because I was at Ohio State at the time.
It had been like a couple of weeks into quarantine [when] I found out that I was pregnant. I didn’t know what to do, or where to go. But I had had connections in repro, because I had just got done working on a campaign at a reproductive justice org.
I had texted one of my best friends/boss and was like, ‘I’m pregnant, and don’t know what to do.’
She was like, ‘You’ve come to the right place. What do you need?’
I’m like, ‘I need an abortion. But I don’t know how to pay for one. Like, I don’t have the money, because abortions are expensive.’ At the time, like I said, our campaign had just ended abruptly. I still got paid, but I didn’t have a job because it was COVID.
Again, I was in school full time. I ended up like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’
She was like, ‘Do you need funding, because she was also on the board of our abortion fund back home.’
I was like, ‘Yes, please.’
I got squared away with that. And I was able to contribute $100 out of that, I think 525 and then the abortion fund covered the rest.
The Importance of Abortion Storytelling
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.”
And what was the process like? In regard to, I know, you mentioned that you were already in community with somebody on the board of the abortion fund. Did this look like having to interact with the hotline? What did this look like?
I know some funds have like an application that you have to fill out.
I did have to fill out a couple forms and pledged the amount that I was able to contribute, and then just sign off on the documents, and someone else signed off for it. And then, when I got to the abortion clinic, I had to ask them if they received my form for the pledge of the abortion fund to do the rest of my funding for my abortion.
The overall the abortion fund really gave you the peace of mind and clarity. In regard to the funding part, did the fund offer any other support, emotional support, practical support? Like maybe rides to your appointment or an abortion doula or anything like that?
At the time, because of COVID, I know that a lot of the services previously offered – in terms of like, rides and stuff where you have to interact – weren’t necessarily offer[ed] because it was COVID.
But thankfully, I had people that were willing to support and take me back and forth to all of my appointments because the state of Ohio has a lot of restrictions, and you have to go to appointments. So yeah, like my best friends, and my sister-in-law had taken me to my appointment.
I had three appointments, and they took me to my appointment.
I’m trying to think of any other questions. As far as the –
I do genuinely believe that. If I hadn’t reached out to the abortion fund, I [would] probably had to have carried my pregnancy to term or crowdfund because I [didn’t] know where I was going to get the money from, specifically around the time because no one was working. There were no jobs. I didn’t have 500 plus dollars just sitting around. If I was going to come up, that would have put me in a hole.
It was also very stressful because I was still in school full time. So yeah, yeah, I don’t know what I would have done without the abortion fund.
You pretty much answered everything already. I’ll ask – I know that you have been an abortion storyteller with We Testify, and I want to ask what the storytelling means to you or like what has it done for you since having your abortion?
Storytelling for me has been very healing.
I’m actually in the process of getting my second abortion and my first abortion was very – again, a very stressful and very — kind of – demoralizing time because of where I was at.
Like this time, I’m in California. But the first time I was in Ohio, and at the time, lawmakers and officials were coming for abortion clinics and saying, like, ‘We need to shut these down, because these aren’t essential procedures.’
I had the weight of that on my back. And just also an unsupportive partner at the time. We were already broken up by the time I found out I was pregnant. And also, like, it was my first time going through it.
So just going through the motions and having like, this internalized stigma about it, as my first thing was, like, I’m a failure. Like that my first initial thought was, I’m a failure, I don’t know what to do.
Then I kind of snapped out of it.
Like, okay, I have sex.
Being pregnant, getting pregnant shouldn’t be punitive. I shouldn’t have to continue on if I don’t want to, and I didn’t.
But being an abortion storyteller has been very healing for me. It’s also really helped me this time around, just with the stigma around it, and not internalizing the stigma.
I definitely feel more empowered than anything. Because sometimes with the feeling of, the nausea, the tiredness and having to go back and forth to the clinic, and then seeing all this stuff around abortion. Like trigger bands, right now. It can be very dizzying and demoralizing.
It has helped me process the way that I feel about it. Just storytelling, and also just reclaiming my power and telling my story in the way that I wanted it in the way that I wanted to tell it.
Yeah, I’m really glad that you found community with We Testify.
Me too. Me too.
Um, okay, so actually, I think I have one more question.
So I know you mentioned that you already need community with a board member at the abortion fund and that you were already working with, like a reproductive justice organization. Just as somebody who was in proximity to an abortion fund, like what things might you say, logistically needs support? I mean, both as a caller, and as somebody like holding this work?
So as somebody who was both in proximity to the work and a caller of an abortion fund, is there anything that you would personally call on funders to make sure that they’re investing? Or like, is there any reasoning that you feel that philanthropy needs to see to fund abortion funds, so they continue to support people in the way that you were supported?
I’m just holistically thinking about other things outside of abortion funding outside of the abortion itself. Depending on where you are, wherever you’re at, you have to have provide transportation that’s just a really big thing as well.
That’s my big thing. The logistics of logistical support, as well because people still have to run hotlines. So just thinking holistically outside of just abortion, the abortion itself, and like thinking about all of the other things that are tied into abortion, that you know, because not everyone’s abortion process looks the same.
Like yes, sometimes I may have needed the money to get the abortion itself, but I was covered on the ride, the rides back and forth. Some people aren’t. I was also able to come back to my home after I went to my abortion appointments. That’s because I was like 20 minutes away from the abortion clinic.
Some people have to pay for hotels in the process, so just thinking about that, like holistically. I definitely call on philanthropy to think about that as well.
Well, I really appreciate you for talking to us and telling your story
Funding the Frontlines:
A Roadmap to Supporting Health Equity
through Abortion Access
Graphics Designed by Trevor Messersmith of 80east Design
Website Frame & Submenu by Black Digital Group
A convenient way to get the latest news and resources that help grantmakers maximize the impact on equity and justiceSign me up for ROUNDUP now