I really like to think of myself as a typical Texas girl. I grew up going to schools that taught you square dancing, surrounded by cow farms, spending my summers exploring all the little creeks and grasses that grew around my childhood home. I grew up in a large religious family in El Salvador that for many reasons didn’t get involved in politics – but there’s really no way to grow up in Texas and pretend that politics isn’t not affect all aspects of our lives. communities, particularly with regard to abortion.
So when I found out I was pregnant in high school, I knew the decision to have an abortion was going to be a huge part of who I was going forward. Despite all the negative messages my entire life, I knew immediately that having an abortion was the right choice for me and that I was going to end a pregnancy that I didn’t want no matter what. I just wasn’t going to continue being pregnant if I didn’t want to be.
The whole experience was stressful, but not because of the abortion itself. Because of all the state-imposed hurdles required by conservative and Republican leaders in Texas and the pervasive stigma I had absorbed my entire life.
Abortion itself was an act of empowerment. It was the first time I really experienced autonomy, agency and power over my own life and body. The experience was equally important to the development of my political identity, as it was the first time I felt the impact of politics, policies and how ingrained abortion stigma is in our society. .
So when I woke up on June 24 and read the news that the United States Supreme Court had overturned the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade – before I even really had a chance to take my first breath, let alone drink a cup of coffee – my mind went back to who I was in the high school bathroom watching that pregnancy test positive.
Then my thoughts immediately turned to everyone in Texas and across the country seeking abortion care while receiving notifications on their phones and radios that SCOTUS had finally cleared Roe V. Wade – which never guaranteed us full access to abortion care, but meant that we had certain rights.
Each year since I had my abortion, I have seen our country become a more hostile space for people seeking this type of care – at the same time as we struggle with overwhelming and interconnected issues such as the threat of extreme right for our democracy, the climate emergencies and the massacres against which the government refuses to take serious measures. But abortion? It is apparently obvious. When it comes to an attack on abortion access and bodily autonomy, the government decides to act.
The text messages I’ve received since the cancellation of Roe v. Wade come from people wondering what’s next and what do we do now. And to be honest, the answer for me isn’t as simple as going to the next protest or calling your senator. For me, what we need to do is invest in our communities.
Places like Texas have operated under anti-abortion governments for years. The silver lining here is that we have discovered systems rooted in community care and radical love that we can continue to support to ensure that no matter what, people have access to the care they need.
Community care is vital, now more than ever. We can all act. Share your abortion story, be a strong supporter of abortion access, and show up for loved ones who need abortions. Provide direct assistance such as transportation, housing, childcare, and translation, as practical support is critical to abortion access, especially as states impose more restrictions that force people to travel to access care. Familiarize yourself with what it takes to get an abortion in your community and where the nearest clinic is, even if it’s in another state.
Either way, we must and will show up for each other because people who have abortions deserve to be loved and protected. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Stephanie Gomez is a Texas abortion storyteller with We Testify. You can follow her on Twitter @houstephtx.
All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.