We Testify Storytellers Saturate the Media During Roe 2018
In 2016, the National Network of Abortion Funds launched We Testify: Our Abortion Stories, a program dedicated to increasing the spectrum of abortion storytellers in the public sphere and shifting the way the media understands the context and complexity of accessing abortion care.
Since We Testify launched, over 30 abortion storytellers have been featured in more than 100 articles discussing the intersection of abortion and immigration, racial justice, religion, and trans health, and have spoken at conferences including the 2017 Women’s March Convention in Detroit and the Pregnancy in Prison Convening in San Jose. Storytellers have shared their abortion experiences or what happened when they were denied an abortion, the best ways to support abortion storytellers, and how their ability to access an abortion impacted their lives. Their testimonies brokered understanding between social justice issues and the lived experiences of people who seek abortions everyday, including their own loved ones.
On the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, We Testify Abortion storytellers collectively testified in a dozen outlets, moving beyond the legalization of abortion to the reality of how our access has been eroded over 45 years. We Testify shows how resilient people seeking abortions have been.
Samantha Romero is board chair of West Fund in El Paso Texas and joined NNAF in the first cohort of We Testify abortion storytellers. She’s been making waves with her storytelling every since, and says:
“I was new to the world of abortion funding and it felt like people had established relationships. When I joined We Testify as a storyteller, Renee [Bracey Sherman] didn’t ask us to share our stories immediately. She told us we didn’t even have to share if we don’t want to, and that we are more than our stories. I am privileged to have that relationship with the first cohort of We Testify storytellers, and now with Movement Makers. It’s like lightning struck twice!”
Here are all the articles published sharing the powerful words and stories of We Testify storytellers during January 2018 alone:
- “I finally understood that my mother’s love for me was deeper than I had perceived it to be. The grave disappointment I expected was nowhere to be found… Discussing my abortion with my mother was a positive turning point in our relationship. I sometimes wonder what our relationship would have been like had I told her sooner. But when I do, I try to refocus on the fact that we now have a bond that I always craved. And for that, because of my abortion, I will always be grateful.” – Kristine Kippins in The Root
- “As soon as I arrived for my appointment, I made it very clear that I wanted to have an abortion. The jail staff told me it wasn’t possible; ‘you’re only here 60 days,’ they said, and if I wanted to have an abortion, I’d have to wait until I got out… People who have been incarcerated are often the easiest targets by politicians to take something as basic as abortion away from. It’s time everyone rises up for us. It’s time to rise up for Roe.” – Kay Winston in Bitch
- “For a minute or two I smiled at the idea of being a mother. [Then] I quickly had a reality check and knew I couldn’t start a family here, right now. The same people who would force me to continue my pregnancy are the same people who would rip my baby from my arms and deport me because of my immigration status.” – Alejandra Pablos in Colorlines
- “There is one [narrative] told about [undocumented immigrants] which is that we want to come here and have anchor babies. I like being able to explain that we’re actually people with complex lives and sometimes children fit into that and sometimes they don’t.” – Layidua Salazar in Colorlines
- “Everyone that has the ability to create and terminate pregnancies should feel welcome, whether we identify as women or not… I honestly believe that having access to the abortion and to therapy saved my life [after my rape].” – Cazembe Murphy Jackson in LogoTV
- “There wasn’t very much diversity and not a lot of conversations about abortion access and immigration…To see that We Testify is giving me the opportunity to do that and see what that’s done for other fabulous Latinas and Latinx people who I’ve met is more powerful than I originally imagined.” – Daniela Diaz in Bustle
- “While adjusting to motherhood hasn’t been easy, it’s been enjoyable, and it happened on my terms. I’m completely in love with my son, and not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for my decision to have my abortion. I know he wouldn’t be here otherwise.” – Mallory McMaster in ScaryMommy
- “For me, making the decision to have an abortion at 19 was easier than obtaining it because of all the state-sanctioned road blocks put between people seeking abortion care. I faced barriers in accessing my abortion by being burdened with travel because of the lack of clinics in Ohio, the 24-hour waiting period for mandatory counseling that must be completed in person designed to discourage folks from having an abortion, health insurance that would only pay for the mandatory ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat although it was already confirmed by a test that I was pregnant — instead of covering my procedure because the pregnancy wasn’t due to a documented case of rape or incest.” – Holly Bland, alongside Cazembe Murphy Jackson, Megan Jeyifo, Stephanie Loraine, and Kenya Martin in Teen Vogue
- “I got exactly what I wanted out of [my medication abortion]. I wanted the experience to happen at home. I wanted the first time (to) have my mom there rubbing my back and the second time my partner rubbing my feet. I wanted to definitely experience it more and be more hands-on with what my body was going through. I don’t want my body to be a mystery to me.” – Kelsea McLain in the Chicago Tribune
- “Unfortunately, anti-abortion terrorism isn’t new. Those of us who provide abortion care have long faced cultural stigma, threats and violence. But the more they harass us, the more I want to do this work. Their determination to keep people from accessing abortion care reminds me how vitally important our work is.” – Kenya Martin in the Huffington Post
- “Abortion is a common experience, yet there’s a lot of silence around it due to the shame and stigma our society puts on people who’ve had abortions. To build understanding, more of us are speaking out. Your story is an undeniable truth and might radically shift how someone who had an abortion reflects on their own experience, the stigma they faced and to help challenge the stereotypes and misinformation others have heard about people who have abortions.” – Renee Bracey Sherman in BillMoyers.com
- “When I talk about my abortion, people assume I’m straight. When I talk about being queer, people don’t imagine that I’ve had an abortion before. It’s been hard to live with both identities in a way that I feel other people can understand. I’m not disqualified from being queer because I’ve had an abortion.” – Sam Romero in NBC News
- “Nine years ago I became Jane Doe when I was denied the opportunity to decide my own fate and access an abortion. Because of my age, the government wouldn’t allow me to decide what to do with my own body… Because of Roe I reclaimed my bodily autonomy and agency. To my fellow Jane Does, I hope you know I fight for you every day. I see you. I feel you. You are not alone and you deserve better than what this system is giving you.” – Stephanie Loraine, alongside Alejandra Pablos and Aziza Jones, in the Protect Roe project with the Center for Reproductive Rights
- “When I was in my early 20s, I found out I was pregnant. I was living in India, where much of my family is, and also where sex and abortion are deeply stigmatized… So, in secret and on my own, I tried to have an abortion… Growing up and even today, it is rare to see South Asians represented among those who have had abortions… To this day, I give thanks for access to safe abortion services. My abortion provided me the power and freedom to shape my own life and build my own future. But I never want others seeking an abortion to feel as alone as I did.” – Sheila Desai, alongside Stephanie Loraine, Alejandra Pablos, Holly Bland, and Cazembe Murphy Jackson, on the We Testify press call
Throughout the ten-month program for each of two cohorts so far, We Testify has amplified the power and leadership of abortion storytellers, particularly those of color, those from rural and conservative communities, those who are queer identified, those with varying abilities and citizenship statuses, and those who needed support when navigating barriers while accessing abortion care.