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‘Reproductive justice’ advocate details her lockdown abortion experience: ‘Will I get stuck pregnant?’


'The need for abortions does not subside during a pandemic'

Photo by Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images

A "reproductive justice" advocate's essay in Newsweek has gone viral after she documented her experience in obtaining an abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the details?

Nik Zaleski, who is also a playwright, cultural strategist, and director — writes, "I had an abortion in California during the COVID-19 pandemic."

In the essay, Zaleski says that she has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to "protect abortion access" through organizing, facilitating, and storytelling.

"Back in March," she admitted in the piece, "I made a difficult decision."

That decision? Not an existential battle over whether to kill her child or let he or she live — but "whether to go outside (or not) to get an abortion."

Needless to say, the reproductive justice advocate opted to leave the house in order to get an abortion, because she said she believed it to be "essential."

"[S]hould we go outside and potentially expose ourselves to the virus or stay home with a pregnancy we don't want to continue?" she wrote.

You know what she ended up doing, of course.

Heading to Planned Parenthood

"On March 16," she wrote, "the day the 'shelter in place' order was announced in certain parts of California, I pulled up to the parking lot of my local Planned Parenthood to begin a medication abortion."

"I glanced at my phone before going in to find a text from my friend," she continued.

The message, Zaleski said, read, "California is about to announce that six counties, including ours, won't be allowed to leave our homes until April 7. ... Get everything you need before mass hysteria."

"In the steps between the car and the clinic doors, I worried," she admitted. "Will I get stuck pregnant?"

Zaleski said that she entered the facility with one worry on her mind: Whether she'd be able to obtain her "necessary" abortion.

"When it was my turn [in line], I told the receptionist I had just heard the news about sheltering in place," she recalled. "'Am I allowed to be here?' I asked. 'Of course,' she assured me."

Zaleski said that she took a deep breath and "silently thanked God."

She was able to obtain the abortion via pharmaceutical treatment and she went home to count her blessings and privileges as a "white, young, healthy, able-bodied, insured" American.

"I am now thinking about all of the people who are currently trying to get the abortion access they need," she wrote. "Should [abortion patients] follow the CDC's guidance and cancel travel or get on a bus, plane, train, or car to cross a state line for care?"

Feeling for women who want an abortion but face red tape

Zaleski said that she felt fear for those women who elected to have an abortion, only to discover red tape because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think of everyone who has to travel hundreds of miles because they happen to live in Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, or West Virginia — states with only one clinic that offers abortion services," she mused. "And I think of those who may have to travel long distances for a later procedure. They will all have to make the same decision that I did — whether or not to go outside."

Zaleski said that she was able to experience on a small scale — about "seven minutes" — the anxiety that women who can't get their "necessary" abortions, and felt for them.

"That seven minutes is why I work to ensure everyone who wants an abortion is able to get one," she boasted. "Without barriers and without fear."

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