Roe at 40: Our RJ, Ourselves

Something exciting is afoot in the abortion rights movement.  This January, I have been inspired by all of my colleagues who shared their abortion stories and their abortion histories.  We are talking about the decisions our mothers and grandmothers made. We are talking about the decisions we made, even with strangers on a train. So here is another story.

Both my grandfathers were teenagers when they immigrated illegally from China to the U.S. because they dreamed of a decent life.  They built careers here. They went back to China for arranged marriages through a matchmaker. My mom was born in China and her parents returned to San Francisco Chinatown when she was a toddler. My maternal grandmother bore 4 more children in public housing in the slums of Chinatown. After her 5th pregnancy, she struggled with postpartum depression. She went to a sanitarium, where she could not communicate with the English-speaking doctors. She returned from the sanitarium and committed suicide, which is why my mom spent her teenage years raising her 4 siblings.

This is not my story.  I don’t know if culturally-appropriate mental health and reproductive health services could have saved my grandmother. But I wonder.

I am 26 years old and I am grateful for Roe v. Wade.  I am also grateful abortion funds help women reclaim their lives, because I know birth control failure and unintended pregnancies are frightening. And I know what it’s like for someone to throw you a lifeline.  When I was 20 and the drugstore pharmacist told me Plan B would be $50, I walked away.

It was the 4th of July and community clinics weren’t open.  Finally, I told my friend I was in a real pickle and he offered to help me pay.  I thanked him and decided I’d wait a day to get affordable Plan B at the student health center.  It was a gamble but everything turned out fine.  I will never forget the relief I felt that day because I had the support I needed.

This is the support DC Abortion Fund works to offer our callers.  A few months ago, a patient told me she would diy her late abortion if she couldn’t pay for her procedure, and asked if the YouTube videos she’d seen were credible. I was grateful the DCAF community made it possible for me to tell her to keep her clinic appointment, and we would help her get there.

Conservative organizations and lawmakers want to criminalize and ban abortion in this country so they can oppress and exploit us. But we will keep fighting for abortion rights, by any means necessary. We will keep the talkline open, we will donate, and we will advocate. Because our lives are at stake and I refuse to go back.

By DCAF board member Danielle