Abortion Access on the Border
by Gabi, West Fund Volunteer
One morning in the fall of 2011, I remember waking up thinking to myself, “Hmm, something feelsdifferent…” I padded over to my dresser drawer where I kept all things necessary for such “emergencies:” my trusty Diva Cup, extra tampons, and pregnancy tests. I was (and still am!) in a loving relationship with a man I cared for deeply, and though we did our best to be careful, I was aware that sometimes things can just happen.
I tried to stay optimistic, but my positive attitude ended abruptly as I sat staring at the at the starkly blue and unforgiving lines that just made an appearance on my test. In less than a minute, they answered my question: You are definitely pregnant. I felt many things within that moment- devastated, angry, guilty, and scared, but one thing I did not feel was unsure. I quickly Google searched “abortion clinics El Paso, TX,” chose one by the name of Reproductive Services, and called to make an appointment for that weekend.
The clinic was clean, the staff was friendly, and the waiting room was decorated in a calming blend of light pinks and teals. The environment was altogether soothing and so I settled back to wait. Fortunately, I had made myself comfortable, because there was quite a bit of waiting to be done: Waiting to see the doctor, waiting for them to tell me (more like lie to me, per state regulations) about the dangers of breast cancer after abortion, waiting to sign waivers, and waiting for a sonogram that I didn’t want nor cared to see (another state regulation). That very same sonogram told the nurse that I was only a week so far, and she then told me that I needed to come back when I was a bit further along. Fortunately the time would also account for my mandatory 24-hour waiting period, and I was able to be rescheduled for the following Saturday. Feeling anxious and a little defeated, I went home to wait some more.
The very next week, I was ready! Misoprostol in hand, feeling victorious, I went straight from the clinic to my house where my partner had prepared a nest for me with a cup of tea, blankets, and the TV remote should I feel the need to change it from Vh1 reality shows (which I didn’t). A couple of hours passed, and I started to wonder whether it was even working, when I began to feel a little crampy. Nothing too bad at first, but slowly the aches intensified, and pretty much stayed the course for the rest of the night. But when I awoke in the morning, I felt better. Just like that, overnight, I was no longer pregnant. Just like that, I could finally breathe easy.
I was fortunate to have had my abortion when I did. This was two years before the 2013 Texas legislature passed the destructive HB2 law which swiftly and deliberately shuttered dozens of abortion clinics across the state, and implemented various regulatory roadblocks, effectively disenfranchising thousands of patients seeking abortion care, and disproportionately affecting people of color, and folks of lower income.
"I was fortunate to have had my abortion when I did."
In June of 2016 the United States Supreme Court ruled against this very same law, but unfortunately after three years, the damage had already been done. A vast majority of clinics that were shut down have not been able to recover, leaving many women in those areas with no other option than to carry to term an unwanted pregnancy, or in dire cases, administering the procedure themselves.
This is why the work that the West Fund does is so incredibly important. With many people across the state of Texas losing access to abortion care at an alarming rate, the least that we can do is help to ensure that they are not victims of circumstance, as well as legislation — like Texas’ clinic shutdown law, HB2.
"Many people do not have the privilege of an unremarkable abortion experience."
To be honest, I don’t actually think about my abortion all that much. It wasn’t traumatic, fraught with drama, or particularly scary or painful. But I was one of the lucky ones. I had a decent job, and therefore the money to pay for my $530 procedure upfront. I had a car, which reliably transported me the 17 miles roundtrip from my home to the clinic the multiple times I needed it to. I had a safe place to stay throughout the process, and a partner who provided their unwavering support. It is upsetting to say that many people do not have these things. Many people do not have the privilege of an unremarkable abortion experience.
Supporting the West Fund is one easy way that you can ensure that people in El Paso have the ability to access abortion.