We already know what happens when Texas bans abortion—the difficulty I faced trying to get an abortion during the pandemic shows how precarious our access already is.
I was surprised to learn that I was pregnant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this time last year. But the realization that I couldn’t even make an appointment to confirm how long I had been pregnant, or discuss my options with a provider, was even more shocking. As part of his emergency order responding to the pandemic, Texas Governor Greg Abbott had temporarily shut down abortion clinics.
Just this week, Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and their fellow Republican lawmakers prioritized a bill (among others) that would ban all abortions in Texas if Roe v. Wade was to be overturned. But the reality is that we already know what happens when Texas bans abortion—the difficulty I faced trying to get an abortion during the pandemic shows how precarious our access already is.
When I think back on that time one year ago, I remember the endless ringing when I called trying to find a clinic. After my sixth call, I could feel myself starting to lose hope that I’d get in touch with anyone. I began to feel an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, confusion and worry. How were we going to raise a child when we’d both been laid off from our jobs with no sign of going back? We both knew it wasn’t the right time to start a family and therefore I decided to have an abortion.
Finally, I was able to get in touch with what I thought was a legitimate medical clinic in San Marcos, but to our surprise it wasn’t a clinic—it was a crisis pregnancy center, which bill themselves as pregnancy resource centers but that exist to lie about abortion, shame people and dissuade them from making our own decisions about pregnancy. The women there said they’d throw me a baby shower, and I’d be able to get formula and diapers. Leaving with keepsakes and a cross, the women I spoke with only seemed to want to convince me to carry my pregnancy and bring solace to the idea of having the baby. I felt like I was being forced into a decision.
I had always thought of building my family in a world filled with hope and wonder. That idea had already begun slipping away as the reality of the pandemic set in, having to wear masks in order to enter grocery stores, having all non-essential businesses shut down for an undisclosed amount of time, struggling to pay rent and hoping for support from our elected officials. If I couldn’t take care of myself, there was no way I could confidently take care of my family with no answers or cure in sight.
I had multiple appointments made but due to the constant uncertainty of the clinics in Texas, I was scheduled to go to New Mexico at one point, then to Dallas, then back again. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the thought of hundreds of women sitting around waiting for a phone call worrying just like me. Thankfully, I was able to get the support I needed to get my abortion thanks to Fund Texas Choice and The Lilith Fund, whose network of volunteers helped me navigate the barriers to getting the care I needed during the pandemic. It’s because of them that I was able to pay for the two trips to Dallas that I made from my hometown, 266 miles away, to get my abortion.
A year after my experience, I am outraged the same anti-abortion politicians who created the barriers that I faced are pushing to ban abortion and restrict access even further. I was able to come out stronger and confident in my decision, and as I reflect on my experience, I’m committed to sharing my story and holding our elected officials accountable so that Texans like me can get the care we need without politicians using our health care and lives to push their anti-abortion agenda.
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