By Abby Ocampo
As a young girl, I was told “el día que te llegues a embarazar sin estar casada, te saco de esta casa y te las arreglas tu sola.” Those words are still etched into my brain – as a 24-year-old woman, I continue to fear becoming pregnant one day out of wedlock. Those words also led me to think, if I were to get pregnant today, would I get an abortion in order to avoid shaming my parents? The answer was, yes, I would immediately get one and not think twice about it. My mentality as a teen was all about not shaming my parents, not being a statistic, not this, not that, but I never stopped to think, what do I think about it? Because of my lack of self-reflection, I thought it was important to think critically of my thoughts.
In early 2013, I joined LIPS (Latinas Increasing Political Strength) through COLOR. During my time in the LIPS program, I became aware of laws, struggles, movements, and most importantly, I became aware of what I wanted, not what others wanted from me. I was already for abortion, but only because it helped further my personal agendas; I never stopped and thought about the other thousands of women who sought out abortion as a choice. After spending months educating myself, I knew that I was pro-choice for all, and my life continued to shape itself as pro-feminist as my research, awareness and involvement with COLOR grew. Every decision people take is based on their best interests, so why isn’t abortion one of those?
My mom has given me a lot of trust and independence, and I have been allowed to have my own values outside of my family’s norms, but abortion is something we can’t talk about openly. I remember telling her I was working on this project with COLOR, but I didn’t give her the full details. I knew she wouldn’t understand why I wanted to do this; we have gotten into some heated discussions over why it’s someone’s choice to go through the procedure. She says it’s wrong, I say it’s their body and can do as they wish – there’s too much back and forth, which leads to me crying out of frustration because I can’t get her to change her mind. But just as she wouldn’t change her mind, neither would I, and I promised myself I would hold on tight to my beliefs.
As our project came to fruition, I wondered if it would be wise to invite my parents to our readings. Ultimately, I opted out of doing so because I knew I needed to continue working with them to accept that being pro-choice was okay, I did, however, take my teenage sister along with me. Since she is young, I wanted her to come along and not only hear about why many people choose to get an abortion, but also begin to understand that sex, sexuality and abortions are all choices people are allowed to make freely. If she could hear these stories and openly ask questions about sex and sexuality without being afraid of my parents telling her it was wrong, I knew I was helping her become open-minded.
I chose to work on this project because I believe everyone has a choice to decide whether or not they want to have an abortion in their lifetime. We don’t know people’s circumstances, and I believe these plays give people insight as to why some women go through it. There is also nothing wrong with simply saying “it’s just not the right time” and we must also respect that. While it’s been hard to have positive dialogue with some of my family members on this topic, it’s also been beautiful to work with people who want to create a space for these stories. I hope we continue to pioneer for reproductive justice and allow to give these conversations a seat at the table.