Things are about to get loud.
For too long our silence has allowed anti-abortion groups the space to shame women and create barriers to accessing basic reproductive healthcare. At Respect NM Women, things are about to get loud. We're speaking out about our own personal experiences, why access to reproductive healthcare is important to us, and why we believe these decisions need to remain between a woman and her medical provider.
Hunter Riley, Albuquerque
I had a friend who was sexually assaulted, and after the assault happened, she came to me saying she had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. She was scared and devastated and asked if I would come with her to Planned Parenthood. I was happy to be a support system for her.
I picked her up that morning and we drove to the clinic. The experience of getting out of the car was the worst part, she told me later. Having strangers yell at her and protest her decision tore her apart and emotionally exhausted her beyond any procedure she underwent that day. After the procedure she went home happy, healthy and feeling reassured in the decision she made.
I wish that more people had support and access to reproductive services without the fear and shame they experience just walking in the door.
When I was 25 years old, the summer after my first year of graduate school, I discovered I was 6 weeks pregnant. At age 25, I was a total mess emotionally and lacked any semblance of stability an adult ready to be a parent should have. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things, but one thing I was sure about was that I was not ready to be a mother. Not only because my educational and career goals would have been greatly affected by having a child, but because I knew that I owed it to a child to be the best mother I could possibly be and I knew I was in no position to be a good mom.
Making this decision was difficult, of course, but what was also difficult was finding a place to get the abortion and figuring out how I was going to pay for it. I was living in Southern New Mexico, and the closest place for me to go was in Albuquerque. In total, I had to drive 4 hours and it cost me about $450.00. I had to ask a friend for a ride, find a place to stay and I had to open up a high interest student credit card to pay for the procedure. I was alone and scared and had to overcome way too many obstacles. But in the end, it was the right decision for me at that point in my life and I am thankful every day, that as hard as it was, it was a safe and legal option available to me when I needed it.
Lucy Silva, Albuquerque
After hearing a presentation about abortion experiences, the statistic that 1 in 3 women has an abortion before the age of 45 really surprised me – I didn’t think I knew anyone in that category. However, after sharing that information with four women friends, I discovered that there were five abortions among them. The presenter also mentioned the percentage of those women who already or subsequently had children at the time of their abortions, and among those same friends, there were four children. All of the women felt strongly that theirs was the responsible choice, given their unique circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, and none had regrets about their decisions. One felt the need to explain the circumstances, the others did not, and I respect their right to keep that information private. None felt the need to be forgiven and all of us agreed that a woman’s right to her own reproductive choices – including abortion – must continue to be protected for future generations.
My own story is different – I tried to have a tubal ligation while in my 20’s, away at college and on my own. I went to my medical provider for a referral. I was told that I was too young to make that decision and couldn’t possibly know what I wanted for my own life at that age. Twelve years and three children later the operation was performed without any questions. (I still had to face the judgment of family and a former faith community, who did not agree with my choice of reproductive services.) Because of limited finances and no health insurance coverage, I sought out Planned Parenthood for help in obtaining services. There was one doctor in a city half the size of ABQ that was performing services on a donation basis, and after a three-month wait I was able to obtain the services of my choice.
More New Mexico voices coming soon!