by Sam Romero, West Fund President
It took two years and an incredibly hostile election to finally start telling friends and family about my abortion. It's been an amazing journey that started when I woke up in the middle of the night with the grand realization that I was pregnant. It was like those instances when you sit up straight in bed in the middle of the night to remember some forgotten mundane detail about your day. I'm grateful for this dreamlike epiphany, because IRL, I was in denial.
The denial was so strong, I thought it would be safe to take a free pregnancy test at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. It lead to an awful experience where I started second guessing my decision and then spiraling downward, feeling sorry for myself and my circumstance. I felt like another statistic and pitied myself for being a college grad who could not financially support myself, let alone a child.
The abortion was physically painful, but the emotional pain could hardly compare. I felt ashamed and so angry at myself. I isolated myself and picked a fight with my partner on Valentine's Day because I didn't know what else to do. That week I missed my tia's first boxing match and my whole family was upset with me. It made me feel even more alone.
Fast forward through a campaign stint in East Texas for the Wendy Davis campaign and I was still in denial, still in denial that I had ever been pregnant. When others criticized her, I felt safe, as if they weren't talking about me. Wendy Davis was the one who was running for office and She was the one who had abortions, not me. Luckily, it was her loss that made me confront my past.
"I was so disillusioned by the election because I met a lot of single issue voters, the single issue being abortion."
I was so disillusioned by the election because I met a lot of single issue voters, the single issue being abortion. I didn't understand how people refused to see beyond it. I met many who deliberately and intentionally voted on one issue, refusing to recognize, perhaps the other more pressing issues like funding for public and higher education, or healthcare access. It was so frustrating, but it made me realize, that I needed to start talking about my abortion because my life is not a single issue. I cannot be pigeonholed into one life decision. I'm so much more than a healthcare procedure I had three years ago.
Last summer, the landmark Supreme Court ruling of WWH v. Hellerstedt, struck down the restrictive Texas abortion law, otherwise known as HB2. It's the exact bill Wendy Davis filibustered for thirteen hours the same year I had my abortion, and it's the same bill that launched her bid for Governor in the 2015 mid-term elections, a campaign I had the opportunity to work on. It is also what inspired some committed people in El Paso to form the West Fund. Coincidentally, the ruling also marks my one-year anniversary as West Fund President.
In my first year on the West Fund board, I was quick to learn a Supreme Court ruling is hardly a win in Texas. This session, Texas legislators still filed and passed anti-abortion bills. On top of the hostile policies proposed at the state and national levels, one of our local abortion clinics shut its doors. Yet, despite the political landscape that came after a landmark decision, the West Fund has still been doing phenomenal work.
I'm most excited about our team and West Fund family. As you may know, the West Fund recently onboarded four summer interns! We are excited to keep the paid internship program going and onboard new interns every semester. We love the idea in investing in community members who want to learn about what we do, and pay them for their work!
Additionally, we are looking to expand our board! We recognize the benefits and necessity of diversity. The West Fund would like a board membership that more closely resembles our community. We know that reproductive justice is an intersectional issue that impacts all families. We also hope to expand coalitions with local immigration, economic justice, domestic violence, queer rights, racial justice, and women’s organizations to truly show how we are committed to our community and to all aspects of bodily autonomy.
One small win has not changed the face of reproductive justice in our community. People still travel an average of a 400 mile round-trip to access their abortions. The average cost of an abortion has gone up to over $2,000, as people are unsure of how to locate a clinic close to them. Over half of our patients are forced to travel to Albuquerque for their procedures. And the West Fund is funding more than ever -- In the first 6 months of 2017, we funded over 120 abortion procedures.
"One small win has not changed the face of reproductive justice in our community."
With this one-year anniversary of the landmark SCOTUS ruling and my term as President, I ask you to join us. Join us by becoming a sustaining donor at just $5 a month. Join us by sharing your abortion story with us to help remove the stigma for others. Join us by becoming a volunteer or a board member. Join us in the fight for reproductive justice in west Texas.