Friday, April 29, 2005

Jill (Third Wave Agenda) and The Third Estate Sunday Review on reproductive rights

Natalie e-mailed to note Jill of Third Wave Agenda has a column up at NYU News:

The first time I volunteered for the Haven Coalition, I met a 14-year-old girl and her mother. The girl was pregnant and had traveled to New York for a second-trimester abortion because the restrictive laws in her own state wouldn't allow her to obtain one there. She was unable to get an earlier procedure in the first place because her family is very low-income, and those same restrictive laws bar state funding from subsidizing abortions, even for the poorest women.
She talked about her dreams of eventually going to business school. In many ways, she was just like most other 14-year-olds: English was her favorite school subject, she said her mother was her best friend and she liked doing her friends' hair for fun.
In other ways, though, she wasn't: She had an older sister who had given birth at a young age, and she didn't want that for herself. She changed my life.
Haven provides free housing in volunteers' homes for low-income women coming to New York City for second-trimester abortions. It was founded after activists in the city learned that women were traveling here for abortions, and then sleeping on park benches and in Port Authority while they went through the two-day-long procedure because they couldn't afford to pay for a hotel. Haven is activism at its best: It's hands-on. It directly helps people. It transcends rhetoric and politicking, and deals with real people and real issues. If we want to change minds and truly understand the values we espouse, we have to get into the thick of it. While there is value in political action on all levels, one of the most important things we can do as activists is to directly assist those who need it.

On the subject of abortion, I've wanted to highlight an early Third Estate Sunday Review article all week. Like most things I hope to find time to do, it falls by the wayside. (Even with help from Ava, Kat and Dallas. Thank you all.) It's called "Abortion: Why It Still Matters" and it's the story of "Karla" who ended up pregnant while an underage teenager (incest victim) and needed the help of her aunt. From the article:

In a new area, with no family other than her parents, Karla didn't feel she had any options. She also kept hoping her mother would start defending her. But that never happened.
"I think maybe it was losing the house and feeling that in moving, she was at risk of losing her friends. She always brought that up when I'd say, 'I can't go on like this.' 'Joanne will never understand!' she'd scream at me. That was a woman who was really big at her church."
Realizing her own mother had no intention of ever stopping the repeated rapes, Karla found herself trapped in the situation and the silence.

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