Clothes and toys were strewn around the house, along with condoms, dental dams, and a wooden model of a penis to demonstrate how to use condoms. It was impossible to walk from one side of the house to the other without stepping on or over something. In recent months, as press coverage of the fund amped up and donations started pouring in, most of the family has been sleeping in the shack on couches and on the floor, taking calls from donors and potential patients during the day, often wearing the same clothes or PJs for days in a row.
Laurie has chronic health issues that make her hypersensitive to temperature and scent and cause her to have a hard time walking or even dressing herself, so she works out of a bed in her room in the fundshack, surrounded by laptops and phones, often undressed and wrapped in a blue sheet that matches her blue eyes, her blue hair, and the blue of her walls. Part of the reason Laurie started doing this work, and stuck with it despite her health issues, is that she has been there herself.
When she was 19, she tried to get an abortion but was unable to access it because of money constraints and restrictive abortion laws in Indiana, where she was living at the time. She never ended up having an abortion. She already had twin daughters at that point; she had given birth to them at 16 while she was still involved in her evangelical church.
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I mean, it was a bad experience. And they did this to me why? Kayla and Sarah were only 14 and 15 at the time, but they were protective of their mother, whose health was deteriorating. So they became clinic escorts as well. Then, when Kayla was 15, she got an abortion. After a while doing that, they started to try to think of other ways they could help women in the same situation.
They decided to start the fund.
At first they just collected funds through a Facebook group Laurie set up and used her connections with clinics and other organizations to help with appointments, only funding about one person a month. The family receives child support, food stamps, and other financial assistance from the government to help Laurie take care of everyone while they all run the fund.
I been there, done that. It is partially because of this empathy that the fund prefers to pay to put its patients up in hotels rather than provide them with homestays with volunteers. Laurie and other abortion fund workers said that while many volunteers who house women seeking abortions have their hearts in the right place, they can often end up being invasive — wanting to get to know the patient, cooking them dinner, asking them questions about their situation, and telling them about their own abortion stories.
The day before an abortion, patients often just want to lie in bed, eat comfort food, watch TV, and not think about it, but as houseguests, they often feel they have to humor their hosts. Is she even going to feel comfortable being at your white upper-middle-class house? Are you an elitist fuck who is gonna act funky when you have poor people of color showing up at your house?
Aolani, 16 whom Gbus has called Mushroom since she was little because she glommed onto him like a mushroom on a tree , was already in the car with her earphones in, hugging a pillow. The sun rose as they did the nearly three-hour drive to A. By the time they reached the town to pick up A. Her pregnancy had occupied her brain and made her sick for months; she suffered from severe, chronic morning sickness that left her bedridden and unable to eat anything but bread for weeks. Because of this, she missed many classes, as well as the opportunity to start the advanced internship necessary to graduate.
Before the trip, she had been up all night preparing the materials to attempt to beg the university and the internship program to let her join late so she could get her degree and leave Mississippi after the summer. At this point, so much had gone wrong, A. She did not want to have the baby; she had been trying to get an abortion since she was six weeks pregnant, but the man who had gotten her pregnant kept saying he would pay for the procedure, then not showing up to drive her the more than three hours to the clinic. He would cancel the appointments, she said, and would lie about having given the money to the clinic in advance.
By the time she realized he was never planning to pay, she was in her second trimester and the procedures were too expensive for what she had saved up. She also knew that if she had it, the man would force himself into her life. But then she found Laurie through the National Network of Abortion Funds website and gave her a call. I was literally like, do I just start drinking bleach? What can I do to stop this? I just want my life back.
She and Laurie spoke on the phone for three hours, she said. And Laurie did. But thanks to the recent uptick in donations, they had the money to cover it all. The fund swooped in just in time — a week later and it would have been too late. This law could be blocked in court for a time, but similar bans in other states have been allowed by judges to go into effect, so nothing is certain. By about noon, they had finally made it. The clinic only allows patients to have one person with them, so Sarah accompanied A.
These instructions are particularly elaborate in the case of second-trimester abortions like A. During the first procedure, the clinic workers inserted sterilized pieces of seaweed into A.
Throughout the evening after the first appointment and the morning before the second, Sarah woke A. It started when her mother had a miscarriage. When she later moved from the white evangelical church to a black evangelical church, she said that she felt she was no longer being told what to think and that she could explore her own ideas and opinions.
And those opinions, she eventually realized, were fundamentally opposed to those of her church. Younger students started coming to her for help when they got pregnant by accident, asking her for guidance. T housands of women shared their stories of abortion on social media last month, compelled to talk about their own experiences in a bid to end the stigma and misinformation that still surrounds the procedure. Even in countries where abortion has been legal for decades, it often remains a controversial subject with those against the procedure giving political, moral, social, ethical and religious reasons.
The truth is that life is unfathomably complex, people with uteruses own their bodies unconditionally, and every abortion story is as unique as the person who lives it.
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To show how important free-access abortions are, West, Bonow and Morrison asked women to share their positive stories of the procedure. Women from countries around the world responded causing the hashtag to trend on Twitter in Australia, UK, US, as well as in Ireland where abortions are still illegal. When I missed my period I went to the GP straight away. As soon as the test came up positive I asked her to refer me to the hospital. I struggled a lot with sickness and fatigue leading up to the abortion. I had a medically induced abortion. I went to the hospital two days apart. The first visit was to have an ultrasound and take the first pill.
Two days later I returned to stay for the day. Maybe because this hospital had only opened their clinic the previous year, they were more cautious. Women had to stay on the ward until they had completed the abortion. It was like a heavy period, all at once. After I had passed my womb contents, I was given a cupful of antibiotics and told to wait in the lounge for my ride home. I was told that it was not permitted to use public transport after the procedure, even though there was no anaesthetic involved. I think I was more ashamed of being pregnant than I was of deciding to have the abortion.
I was surprised by how sad I felt in the immediate aftermath.
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I did see my foetus as I felt I owed it to myself to confront the result of my actions. I know I did the right thing for both of us. I felt sure in my decision and still do, but I know now that I suffered emotional and psychological consequences that it took me some time to process and understand. I believe this was due to a number of factors, including the unsupportive relationship I was in at the time and a stigma in talking openly about my decision generally.
Although my partner and I had been using condoms, one split and the morning after pill was ineffective that time. I learned later that this was probably because I was at the most fertile point in my cycle. I attended an NHS family planning centre for confirmation of the pregnancy and referral for an abortion. The nurse at the centre was matter of fact, but sympathetic. As my pregnancy was at a very early stage, I opted for a medical abortion rather than surgical as under NHS procedures. A surgical abortion would have meant a further delay of a few weeks.
In retrospect, I would have opted for a surgical abortion. The medical abortion entailed two visits to the hospital.
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The first was for a scan to again confirm the pregnancy, followed by me taking a pill to begin the process. I then went home with an appointment to return two days later to take a second pill which would cause the womb lining to come away and the abortion to complete. This was to be done under supervision of ward nurses and I had to remain on the ward until they were satisfied the process had worked.
I found this part of the process quite upsetting for a number of reasons. Physically, although the process was uncomfortable and painful, it was manageable pain. However, I believe that the ward I was on included some women who had miscarried or had other gynaecology issues which made me extremely uncomfortable. I remember essentially feeling that they knew I was aborting and would despise me. This took place under general anaesthetic a few days later. I was lucky to have close friends who were supportive and non-judgemental, but I still felt my abortion was a secret that only a few close friends could be told about.
Although I am extremely close to my family I did not tell any family members until years later, and then only one. I still think about my abortion, although I still believe it was completely the right decision. I have told friends I have made since it happened and they have been sympathetic, although I still feel that it is something I can not very openly discuss. This is probably even truer now at a time when people in my circle have suffered miscarriages or fertility problems.
While I at times imagined what it might be like if I decided to go through with the pregnancy, I feel keenly that it would have been the wrong decision. Both occasions occurred in a very emotionally abusive relationship I was in from the age of 18 until I was I was 21 when I had the first abortion and we both decided that my priority was for me to finish my studies. There were anti-abortion protesters outside the clinic, and I remember feeling incredibly angry that this group of men were trying to terrorise young women — some of the women looked barely even 14 — in the name of their god.
The procedure was fairly painless, and I recovered quickly physically, although I felt very sad about it for a long time. The second was more complicated. My boyfriend at the time actually stopped me taking the morning after pill after a contraceptive failure. He said we should have a baby. When faced with the decision for a second time, this time aged 23, I was very conflicted.
On the other, my partner was proving himself to be a manipulative and cruel individual. When a nurse called to run through a pre-appointment screening, and I mentioned I had taken the morning after pill she told me there was a high likelihood of the baby being born with severe disabilities.
I went ahead with the procedure. For the first I had pre-abortion counselling, which was basically a woman telling me I was making the wrong decision. For the second I had a pre-appointment phone conversation where I received awful medical advice. Close family and friends were the best support. Both terminations left me feeling incredibly guilty and conflicted for a long time. When my relationship with my ex-boyfriend finally ended, and I found myself alone and autonomous for the first time in my adulthood, I had a nervous breakdown.
When in hospital I discussed my terminations a lot. If I had had two children by my ex, I dread to think what my life could be like. I am now a mum of two beautiful girls by a kind and caring man who is the opposite of my ex, and I enjoy motherhood immensely. I think about what could have been sometimes, and I mark the dates of the procedures quietly and privately each year.
I had an abortion when I was living abroad. It was in a private clinic in a posh neighbourhood. I was led into a cubicle and told to put on a gown. I told her I knew that and said I was sure.
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There was another girl in the next cubicle and she said to me that it was ok, that it was her second abortion, and it was fine. I heard her talking on the phone and telling someone that it was done as if it had just been a manicure. I was led into the theatre and I put my legs up in stirrups. The worst part was the injection they put on my cervix and then the doctor started aspirating. It felt like a really really bad period coming on suddenly.
I heard the doctor make a comment saying that the foetus was much smaller than it should have been as they miscalculated my last period. I was really curious and tried to sit up to have a look, but thankfully the nurse pushed me back down onto the bed. When it was finished they gave me a huge sanitary towel and told me to lie down in the cubicle. I was in a lot of pain.
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