My Journey into the Repro Freedom Movement
Across the country, we’re seeing attacks on abortion access like never before. I was thrilled to organize and participate in the national day of action to #StopTheBans on Tuesday, and got the chance to share a bit of my knowledge and enthusiasm for reproductive freedom. My personal reproductive health struggle was also published in Ravishly on Tuesday, so it was a big week in the movement and in my life. I wanted to share more of my personal story regarding how I got involved in the movement.
In some sense, I was destined to join the reproductive freedom movement. I was raised by a Neonatal ICU nurse. My mom would come home with horror stories of what happened when pregnant women didn’t have access to the reproductive healthcare they needed, including access to the full spectrum of birth control and abortion. We lived outside of Baltimore during a time when it had a historically high crime and poverty rate, and the women who suffered most at the Labor & Delivery wing of the hospital were poor women of color.
I left home for college in the rural south in 2010, a midterm election year that brought a wave of radical right Tea Party majorities to state legislatures across the country. North Carolina, where I lived, was no exception. The Tea Party took over the legislature and the first thing they did was come after my community: women, queer folks, college students.
The first laws they passed directly attacked abortion access: mandatory parental notification for minors seeking abortion (regardless of the fact that some of them may suffer abuse at the hands of those very parents they were now required by law to notify), mandatory 2 day waiting period (because grown people can’t be trusted to make their own medical decisions and must ruminate on them for 2 full days), mandatory transvaginal ultrasound in which the doctor would turn the patient’s head to force them to look at the image of the zygote.
I was furious. So, in partnership with a few friends, I organized a march of over 500 people through the streets of our small city. It was the first annual Walk for Choice in Asheville, NC and made statewide news.
It felt great to do something, anything, to fight against this injustice. But the rally was unsuccessful. The laws still went into effect. I felt incredibly disappointed, but set to work studying how to make successful policy and social change.
Since then, I worked for a pro bono law firm advancing women’s’ rights , I facilitated the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire, I served on the campaign team for repro freedom champion Hillary Clinton, and worked for almost 4 years electing pro-choice champions to all levels of our state and local government here in Washington.