When I was 19, my boyfriend and I went to Colombia together. While we were there, I found out I was pregnant. Abortion is illegal in Colombia. I felt isolated, afraid, and alone. I didn’t know who to turn to or where to go. The only thing I knew is that I was not ready to bring a child into this world.
Unlike women in Colombia, I was able to return to the U.S. and make arrangements for an abortion. I was seven weeks along, and I was able to take the abortion pill. It was a very good option. If I lived in Colombia, I would have had to find an alternate way of terminating the pregnancy, which would have meant possibly endangering my own life. I realized that even here in the United States, we need to protect our reproductive rights. I became aware that politicians are trying to take away our bodily autonomy and our rights. The barriers we have here, especially for low-income women, are horrible. And for all women, there’s a stigma with abortion. When you get an abortion, people try to make you feel like you’re a bad person.
Back at college, I became involved with a campus group called Voices for Planned Parenthood, which was amazing. For the first time, I felt people were not judging me, that they were actually listening to me, that they were there for me.
I was raised in a religious Hispanic family. Luckily when my mother found out that I’d had an abortion, she took it a lot better than I thought she would. However, when I came out to her as queer, she was not as accepting at first. She tried to understand, but the concept of LGBTQ is difficult for her to grasp because she’s not educated in these issues. That’s why it’s very important for people to have access to sex education, including education about LGBTQ issues, and to be given a support system.
I don’t think the general public understands what “queer” means. A lot of people think that it means “gay,” and they don’t realize that it’s an umbrella term. The problem is a lack of education. We’re not taught about LGBTQ issues in school — and if you’re not taught about it, how are you expected to know about it? So that’s one of the great things about Planned Parenthood -- that it educates people about sexuality.