HEALTH

Here’s A Way To Resist Trump: Share Your Abortion Story

As part of the 1 in 3 Campaign, women are speaking out about their experience with abortion in an effort to fight the power in Washington

HEALTH
Candice Russell is sharing her abortion story as a form of resistance
Mar 21, 2017 at 7:00 AM ET

A few years ago, Candice Russell, a 33-year-old living in Dallas, Texas, discovered that she was pregnant — her IUD, which doctors had pushed on her instead of the sterilization procedure she desired, had failed. She wanted an abortion right away, but, thanks to her state’s restrictive laws, she faced a several week wait. At 13 weeks pregnant, she was worried she might not make it in under Texas’s 20-week abortion ban.

Russell made the desperate decision to take out a high-interest payday loan to buy a plane ticket out of state. “I flew to California, had an abortion, and came back to Texas before I would have even been seen for the first time here,” she said. “It was really intense.” Over the next two years, she was thrown into a cycle of debt while trying to pay off the money she had borrowed. Ultimately, she paid around $5,000 for the $450 loan — all to obtain basic, timely reproductive healthcare.

Russell is one of roughly 60 women who are expected to share their abortion story on Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST during a livestreamed “speakout” and lobbying on Capitol Hill, part of the 1 in 3 Campaign to fight restrictions on abortion. The campaign is three years old, but this year it’s taken on greater importance, thanks to the presidency of Donald Trump. Although Trump himself has flip-flopped on abortion, Vice President Mike Pence has proven to be unwaveringly anti-choice and said that he wants to see Roe v. Wade sent “to the ash heap of history.” Trump has also nominated to the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch, who appears to be hostile toward reproductive rights.

“Telling our stories is an act of resistance — resistance against restrictions on access, resistance against threats from the Trump Administration, and resistance against the shame that’s kept us quiet for too long,” said Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, which is organizing the 1 in 3 Campaign. “Too often the political has overpowered the personal in the fight for abortion access, and now more than ever we cannot afford to remain silent and let stigma invade the conversation around a procedure that one in three women will have in her lifetime.”

Trump has indicated that he would like to see abortion “go back to the states,” and stories like Russell’s show just what that can look like. In her case, she was driven to flee the state for an abortion because of three Texas laws in particular. The first, HB2, imposed restrictions on abortion that caused about half of the state’s clinics to close, which led to increasing wait times. The second is a 24-hour wait period before a woman can have an abortion, which requires at least two clinic visits on two different days. Then there’s Texas’ 20-week abortion ban — after imposing delays on obtaining an abortion, the state also has a law that imposes a strict deadline for the procedure.

For someone like Russell, who was working in the service industry and could not reliably take multiple days off, this felt untenable, especially when paired with a weeks-long wait time.

The campaign is trying to highlight how abortion restrictions impact women like Russell every day. “This is an issue that affects everyone — not some ideological debate,” said Hauser. “By standing together to end abortion stigma, sharing our stories, and engaging in a personal conversation about abortion in our society, we can begin to create the understanding we need to make abortion accessible for all who need it.”

Russell wanted to share her story to help humanize the issue of abortion, but also because she wasn’t seeing stories like hers made public. “I would hear people talk about abortion in the media, but none of the stories were my story. They were mostly middle-class white women with wanted pregnancies — very valid but heartbreaking tales of the ‘good abortion,'” said Russell, who is Latina. “But the reality of abortion is that a lot of the folks that are accessing care are low-income women of color with stories that looked like mine.”