Chasing Rights, Missing Flights: Making Abortion Accessible Against All Odds
The Guest Blogger who shared this post is a Patient Navigator with New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (NMRCRC). Their name has been withheld for privacy. For more information and abortion resources, see below.
It’s post-Roe, 2022. I’m on a trip from Texas to New Mexico, accompanying 15 people seeking abortion, one a minor. The clinic forgets to tell us to buy her mom a ticket, and the two get separated at the airport. Mother sobbing, daughter stone-faced and angry. The daughter and I walk quickly to the plane where the other 14 people have already boarded. The instant we arrive, the person working at the gate tells us boarding is closed. Daughter is exasperated, the plane is right there. I’m exhausted.
Roe is the floor, not the ceiling.
–The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF)
I’ve been up since 2:30am wracked with anxiety. Tenuous work partnerships; the outbreak of shootings in the past week; traveling to Texas. All this, the ease of violence, gets to me. My attachment to life. My responsibility for the travelers tomorrow, their healthcare, their well-being entrusted to people they do not know.
What brings me to this work? I’ve always been doing this work. The labor of proving my humanity, intelligence, and ability to govern what happens with my body as a female-socialized person read as a woman has always been my challenge especially when it comes to reproduction, sexuality, and genitalia. I’m white and privileged, queer and Jewish. I’m not on the frontlines. I see where this is headed.
Abortion bans are racist. Abortion is healthcare.
Our callers are almost entirely BIPOC. Legal does not equal accessible and never has. Even before Roe v. Wade was overturned, an untold number of people — predominantly people of color — were not able to access what many people and countries around the world consider basic health care. How many people are forced to make reproductive decisions based on their distance from a clinic, where they live, their race, their language, their documentation, their income and wealth? How many people are unable to make reproductive decisions at all?
People come to us from all over: Alaska, North Carolina, and of course, Texas. People speak Spanish and English, bring backpacks and blankets. People are scared and serene. People are grateful and angry, tearful and torn, determined and without regrets.
Your Reason is the Right Reason
I call my supervisor after we miss our flight and she’s just waking up. She books mother, daughter, and I tickets on the same flight. Thank every blade of grass, every sunflower in New Mexico, that people fund us. Daughter and mother are calm now. Father has taken the day off work and drives us to the airport. He’s supportive of his daughter and wife, who are giving each other a look in regard to his driving. We arrive at the airport with plenty of time and sit. The two are teasing each other, just being together.
I’ve already texted the clinic and the numerous other threads we have going. They can still see her. They’ve taken care of the other patients this morning, the 14 other travelers. We drive to the clinic after we land. There are protesters. Our legal observers are ready. Daughter goes safely into the clinic and now the actual procedure within all these other procedures can take place. A 17-year-old full of hope and supported by family. Now in New Mexico with all this bright light, and she’s finally getting in that clinic door like she wanted. Like I hope she wanted, was her choice, not her parents’. Knowing this family after spending over seven long hours with them, I trust this is her choice.
The traveler’s mother and I go back to the office where people are bleeding and cramping, eating lunch and talking quietly. Media people are playing with the camera and interviewing the few people who want to share. I step over the camera and say goodbye to all the other travelers.
Before I leave the office to crash into my mattress for the next 12 hours, the mother tells me she is so grateful. She thinks what we are doing is so wonderful. She is overflowing with good things to say and I’m too tired to put up barriers, to fixate on everything that has gone wrong that day. This small bit of goodness that is by no means small infiltrates my heart and it swells.
The organizations below need support. Please consider donating and sharing with your networks.
New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (NMRCRC): Provides assistance to individuals traveling to New Mexico for abortion services. Looking for Spanish-speaking volunteers in the Albuquerque area. To donate: nmrcrc.org/donate
Mariposa Fund: Provides financial assistance to undocumented people trying to access reproductive services. Se habla español. To donate: mariposafund.org/donation
Indigenous Women Rising: This abortion fund is open to all Indigenous people in the United States and Canada who have the capacity to become pregnant and are seeking an abortion in the United States. Also serves undocumented people. To donate: iwrising.org/abortion-fund
Brigid Alliance: Finds a way to get people to abortion care in the US through direct support and in collaboration with their network of partners. To donate: brigidalliance.org/donate
Roe Fund of Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (OKRCRC): Provides direct financial help to Oklahomans seeking abortion services. To donate: roefund.org/donate
National Network of Abortion Funds: Network of member organizations removing financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice. To donate: abortionfunds.org/donate
We Testify: Organization supporting people who’ve had abortions to share their stories, with special emphasis on POC, queer-identified people, those with varying abilities and citizenship statuses, and those who needed support when navigating barriers while seeking abortion care. To donate: wetestify.org/donate
I don’t support abortion, but in cases of unintended or forced children, abortion should be accepted. If we are too comfortable in this, it will affect the health of women and those children who are also human.