Youth Testify

Youth Testify logoYoung people have always been at the forefront of change. Historically, young people have been the ones to envision and create a freer and more compassionate future for their friends and families. That’s why Advocates for Youth and the National Network of Abortion Funds through their storytelling programs 1 in 3 Campaign and We Testify respectively, are proud to announce the launch of Youth Testify, a collaborative program investing in the leadership of young people who’ve had abortions.

This first of its kind leadership program will provide training and support to equip 13 young people, aged 17-24, with the skills to share their stories with their peers, the media, and legislators, to shift the culture of stigma and center the voices and needs of young people in the fight for abortion access.

“It’s time we invest in the spectrum of identities of people who have abortions, including age, so that we take care of the future of our movement wholeheartedly, with programming, organizing, storytelling, and training,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, Senior Public Affairs Manager at NNAF, and Julia Reticker-Flynn of Advocates for Youth.

Young people need to have a voice in conversations surrounding bodies, reproductive health, and abortion access because young people, as much as any of us, are capable of making the decisions they feel are best for them. Youth Testify organizers shared, “Young people have always been at the forefront of change. Historically, young people have been the ones to envision and create a freer and more compassionate future that you want to live in with your friends and families.”

Bracey Sherman added: “It is crucial that young people are supported in their ability to speak out against the dangers of parental involvement laws, and the impact the restrictions have on young people’s ability to access an abortion, particularly when combined with other financial and logistical barriers to abortion.”

Read more about the Youth Testify Leaders:

AngieAngie

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Age: 24

 

Why are you sharing your abortion story?

I am sharing my abortion so that other young Latinas who find themselves in an abusive relationship don’t feel like they are alone, and feel more comfortable with their decision to leave or have an abortion. I want the elders in the Latinx community to understand that just because they went through an abusive or dangerous situation, that doesn’t mean that young Latinas have to go through it too. We’re thankful for their sacrifice, and things change; we have options now. Together we can eradicate machismo and hold men accountable for their actions.

Read Angie’s full profile.

Beth VialBeth Vial

Location: Portland, Oregon

Age: 24

Abortion Fund: Northwest Abortion Access Fund

What would you like to share about your abortion story?

I had a later abortion, after 20 weeks. Mostly, when you look up later abortion stories, they are anti-choice propaganda or stories about fetal anomalies, and that’s not my experience. A lot of people ask me, “You were pregnant for so long, how did you not know?” And the reality is that chronic illnesses can mask symptoms. I want to share my story because I want people to know that getting an abortion at 6 weeks and getting an abortion at 28 weeks are equally valid.

Read Beth’s full profile.

Co JacksonCo Jackson

Location: Dallas, Texas

Age: 19

 

What would you like to share about your abortion story?

During my abortion, I had faith the entire time. People ask me how can I be Christian and have an abortion, but I think if they truly knew Christianity and knew how God works, they wouldn’t ask that. When I found out I was pregnant, I was with a friend and I had a feeling I was pregnant. I cried a bit, but I was in school, so I had to just put it aside while I was in class. I knew immediately I didn’t want to have it; I didn’t have money, I didn’t have resources, I didn’t have anything. I started praying. God was with me with through the entire decision. I was under 18, so I needed a judicial bypass. A friend told me about Jane’s Due Process, and they were very nice in helping me to get the judicial bypass for the abortion. The whole process took about a week. Throughout it all, I was praying. I asked, “Hey God you know, if this is something you don’t want me to do, don’t let it happen”, and it did happen. He meets you where you are.

Read Co’s full profile.

Youth Testify logoElaina

Location: Pacific Northwest

Age: 20

 

What do you wish other young people knew about seeking abortion?

I wish young people knew there were funds available to help you access an abortion. There are people out there, who specifically organize to help you get an abortion. I was scared. I didn’t know how I would get the extra help to get to my appointment or pay for it, and they helped.

Read Elaina’s full profile.

Elizabeth MariaElizabeth Maria

Location: East Bay, California

Age: 23

Abortion Fund: ACCESS Women’s Health Justice

What would you like to share about your abortion story?

Reflecting on my abortion, I realized that I made a really mature decision for myself. It was a decision that I made really, truly for myself. My abortion story is complex; anti-abortion advocates often weaponize our emotions against us and I felt like the regret that I felt was also mixed in with the determination and sureness of my decision. My abortion brought up unexpected emotions of strength and vulnerability. It has been one of the most powerful choices I’ve made.

Read Elizabeth’s full profile.

HK GrayHK Gray

Location: Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Age: 18

 

What would you like to share about your abortion story?

I was already a teen mom when I found out I was pregnant. Although the choice was hard, I knew what I had to do. I looked up the laws in Texas and saw that because I was 17, I had to get a judicial bypass. My boyfriend was going through a hard time and my parents weren’t around so I reached out to Jane’s Due Process, and I am so thankful I did. They gave me all the information I needed and set me up with a lawyer who got me prepared to see the judge. Seeing the judge was a nerve-wracking experience and almost everything I said was taken the wrong way or twisted. I was asked very inappropriate questions about my sexual history and why I was having sex in the first place. The judge even went on to ask very personal questions about my parents and made me feel very small and less of a person. Luckily, I was granted the right to have an abortion and a judicial bypass, so I had my surgical procedure at 15 weeks and 5 days, five week after I tried to get an abortion originally. I remember the surgery was very intense and the process was emotionally draining, but I think I made the most selfless decision I could’ve made. If it wasn’t for my abortion, my family and I wouldn’t be where we are now and for that I am forever thankful to the organizations that helped me through my difficult time.

Read HK’s full profile.

Jeana AngelaJeana Angela

Location: Houston, Texas

Age: 23

Abortion Fund: Clinic Access Support Network

Why are you excited to participate in Youth Testify?

Young people’s voices are powerful! I’m excited to be part of a community of young people like myself to leverage our voices for change. After my abortion, I started volunteering with Clinic Access Support Network, my local abortion fund, and then started working at the clinic as a counselor. It’s important to me that other young people see me working in the clinic so they know it’s okay to have abortions and so I can empathize with what they’re going through. People who have had abortions are special and I love my Youth Testify community so, so much.

Read Jeana’s full profile.

Jessy RosalesJessy Rosales

Location: Orange County, CA

Age: 24

 

What do you wish other young people knew about seeking abortion?

I wish more young people knew their choices are valid and that they have rights over their own body. They shouldn’t let other people tell them otherwise. Policies protect the right to privacy, but many young people don’t get the same protection. If more young people knew about their rights, they’d be able to advocate for their rights. But because young people are seen as immature and irresponsible, we’re not always taken as seriously when we’re fighting for our rights. Aren’t young people the future?

Read Jessy’s full profile.

Jordyn CloseJordyn Close

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Age: 21

Abortion Fund: Women Have Options Ohio

How are you excited to organize your community to eradicate abortion stigma?

I am building momentum to organize in Ohio to educate people in my community about ending abortion stigma, unjust policies in our state, and increasing access to care. I really love tabling at events to talk to people I wouldn’t normally be able to talk to, whether it’s about our abortions or resources in our community.

Read Jordyn’s full profile.

Lucy

Location: Dallas, Texas

Age: 18

 

What do you wish other young people knew about seeking abortion?

I wish all young people knew that abortion is our right and that no one should tell us how we should feel about our own bodies. Like many young people, it was hard from me to get birth control under the age of 18, and we aren’t taught about sex since many schools teach abstinence-only sex-ed. I was surprised to find out how expensive abortions are, especially for young people who don’t have jobs, and how hard it was to get an abortion during school hours because of our strict attendance policies.

Read Lucy’s full profile.

Marie BertramMarie Bertram

Location: Jackson, Mississippi

Age: 20

Abortion Fund: Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund

What would you like to share about your abortion story?

I’ve had two abortions. They were two very different situations. One was an in-clinic procedure and the other was at home with medication abortion pills. Both experiences were terrifying for me because of all the negative things people told me about abortion. Afterwards, I was down for a few months because I didn’t know how to feel about it. But in the long run, I knew I made the right decision. It was a good decision, and I don’t feel bad about it anymore. I don’t question myself anymore.

Read Marie’s full profile.

Veronika Granado

Location: San Antonio

Age: 19

 

Why are you excited to participate in Youth Testify?

I am excited to participate in Youth Testify to change the way we talk about abortion. In my family and community, it’s not really talked about — it’s an avoided topic. I feel that once we start sharing our stories, it will create a chain reaction and get other young people to talk about their experiences. By sharing, our abortion experiences, we change the way people talk about abortion. This way we can portray the truth because the current image of abortion can cause people to be afraid of having one. I joined Youth Testify in hope this will achieve more people seeking abortions if they need them, instead of fear due to false information.

Read Veronika’s full profile.

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