Next Generation Spotlight – Paige
– Paige, Austin
Growing up I had always been pro-choice. I respected that someone’s decision to have an abortion was theirs to make. But in early 2016 I needed my own abortion, and I quickly learned what folks had been experiencing. There are real barriers that limit our right to choose, making access primarily only attainable to those who have a clinic nearby and the means to pay for it. New to Texas, I was still seeing some of the ripple effect that HB2 had on the state, which shut down more than half of the Texas clinics years earlier. Because I needed an abortion before HB2 was reversed, there were still only two abortion clinics in my city. And because other people in nearby areas had to travel to my city to get their procedures, there were long wait times. I had to wait two weeks to have my abortion.
The reality of my situation was eye-opening and quickly turned this pro-choice person into a full-blown advocate. If you need an abortion in Texas, and your clinic is within a 100-mile radius, you have to wait a minimum of 24 hours after your ultrasound to have the procedure. While I waited two weeks for my procedure, I also had to figure out how to pay for it. As a parent of two children, one who is permanently disabled, finances were tight and an expense like this was not within our budget. Luckily, I found out about The Lilith Fund during a google search, and they were able to help with a portion of my cost. Not long after, I applied to be a hotline volunteer with them, where I’ve gotten to help clients just like me for the last three years.
The client experiences I’ve had through Lilith Fund has continued to fuel this drive in me to do more for my community. Since becoming a volunteer, I’ve also become involved with other organizations focused on abortion access, like NARAL! Being apart of the 2019 Next Gen Fellowship with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has given me a new perspective on the different ways I can help. Next Gen has given us the tools to reach more folks in my community and legislature, which in turn creates more opportunities for education, awareness, and change. It’s also given us the opportunity to influence this change through story-telling, which is its own form of activism! I’m very thankful for the chance to be apart of a group of people who are as passionate about this as I am, and for the chance to learn from those who have been working towards making access a reality for all.