To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this blog is part of a series profiling a new generation of activists working to destigmatize abortion and ensure access to safe, affordable abortion care.
Published in partnership with Advocates for Youth.
When I discovered that I was pregnant, I had only been 18 for three months. I was an 18-year-old in Brownsville, Texas. I was still a teenager, and I was devastated.
When I told my mother, I told her: “I can’t be pregnant.” My life would be over. I did not know what to do. I had been accepted to the University of Houston, and I was going to study photography. My dream was to become a famous photojournalist for National Geographic. I hoped to one day take on photo assignments in areas of the world that were experiencing ongoing conflicts, perhaps the Middle East or South Sudan. What was I going to do? With a child, I thought I would never be able to do any of this. I thought having a child meant saying goodbye to my post-secondary education and to my dreams.
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However, I knew that options were available “to make things right again.” I wanted to get an abortion. But there were many obstacles.
First, Brownsville has a Planned Parenthood, but abortions are not provided there. The closest facility was located about 30 minutes away from Brownsville, but I didn’t have a car. My mother’s car was not reliable, and she wouldn’t have taken me. I did not have any family or friends I could confide in about this.
The second problem was money. The price of getting an abortion was $400. Ever since I can remember, I have always lived with a low socio-economic status. I still do. I had absolutely no money, and I wouldn’t dare ask my mom. She barely had money to pay for bills and groceries. Coming up with $400 was impossible for me.
Third, there was simply too much stigma around the idea of getting an abortion. My mother and her conservative Mexican cultural views made me feel guilty of even thinking about having an abortion.
I never sought help overcoming these obstacles because I knew that help wasn’t there.
In the end, I did not get an abortion. So often people think abortion is the “easy” option. In fact, it was easier for me to remain pregnant. Abortion had been legal for decades, but the barriers were still too great to overcome.
I received temporary healthcare assistance for my pregnancy. It is senseless to think that I could not receive help towards the $400 cost of having an abortion, but I was able to qualify for financial assistance for the entire pregnancy and birth. (And believe me, that is expensive!)
I had never been independent. I had always lived with my mother, and when the opportunity to finally experience my own independence came, I lost it. That’s how I felt. I know that I would have gotten an abortion if I had been given the support I needed.
Things change though. My pregnancy wasn’t the end of my dreams. I have been through a lot since then and throughout my time as a single parent. I have lost many opportunities but gained many others. I am proud of myself. I am proud to be a strong, determined, and motivated single mother of the most beautiful girl ever.
Now, I am a student at the University of Texas at Brownsville and my daughter has become my motivation. She is the reason I have chosen to fight for a whole range of issues, from comprehensive sex education to access to safe, affordable abortion care to ensuring that young people exercise their right to vote.
People should be given the chance to make the decision whether to parent without judgment or stigma. Abortion is (or should be) an option. By sharing my story with the 1 in 3 Campaign with my family, my friends, and my community, I am here to say that it is okay to choose abortion. Women should not feel ashamed for doing what is best for them.
Every day, I fight for the removal of obstacles that I encountered so that women can have that choice. I fight to change the narrative that shames women who do have abortions. I fight to make sure that my daughter and other young women like her will always have the power to control their own health and lives.