'My Abortion Was Empowering. Roe's Obliteration Makes America More Hostile'

I really like to consider myself your typical Texas girl. I grew up going to schools that taught you how to square dance, surrounded by cow farms, spending my summers exploring all the little creeks and grasses that grew around my childhood home. I grew up in a large religious family from El Salvador, that for a lot of reasons, didn't get involved in politics — but there's not really a way to grow up in Texas and pretend like politics didn't affect every aspect of our communities, especially related to abortion.

So, when I found out that I was pregnant as a high school senior, I knew that the decision to get an abortion was going to be a pivotal part of my identity moving forward. Despite all the negative messaging my entire life, I knew immediately that getting the abortion was the correct choice for me, and I that I was going to end a pregnancy that I didn't want, no matter what. I simply was not going to continue to be pregnant if I didn't want to be.

The entire experience was stressful, but not because of the abortion itself. Because of all of the state-mandated barriers required by the conservative, Republican leadership in Texas, and the pervasive stigma that I had been absorbing my entire life.

The abortion itself was an empowering act. It was the first time that I truly experienced autonomy and agency and power over my own life and body. The experience was similarly important to the development of my political identity, because it was the first time I experienced the impact of politics, policy, and just how engrained abortion stigma is in our society.

Stephanie Gomez Is a Texas Abortion Storyteller
Stephanie Gomez is an abortion storyteller living in Texas. She describes her experience of abortion as empowering. Stephanie Gomez

So, when I woke up on June 24 and I read the news that the U.S Supreme Court had struck down the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade—before I really even had a chance to take my first breath, much less drink a cup of coffee—my mind went back to who I was in that high school bathroom looking at that positive pregnancy test.

Then my thoughts immediately went to all of the people who were in Texas and across the country who were seeking abortion care while getting notifications on their phones and over the radio that SCOTUS had finally obliterated Roe V. Wade—which never guaranteed us full access to abortion care, but did signify that we had some rights.

Every year since I had my abortion, I've seen our country become a more hostile space for people who are seeking this type of care—at the same time that we are battling overwhelming, interconnected issues such as the far-right threat to our democracy, climate emergencies and massacres that the government refuses to take serious action on. But abortion? That's apparently a no brainer. When it comes to an attack on abortion access and bodily autonomy, the government decides to take action.

The texts that I've been getting since Roe v. Wade was overturned are from people who are wondering what's next and what we do now. And to be honest, the answer to me isn't as simple as going to the next protest or calling your senator. To me, what we have to do is invest in our communities.

Places like Texas have been operating under government that is hostile to abortion for years now. The silver lining here is that we have figured out systems rooted in community care and radical love that we can continue to support to ensure that no matter what, people have access to the care they need.

Community care is vital, now more than ever. We can all take action. Share your abortion story, be a vocal supporter of abortion access and show up for your loved ones who need abortions. Provide direct assistance such as transportation, housing, childcare, and translation, because practical support is essential to abortion access, especially as states impose more restrictions that force people to travel to access care. Familiarize yourself with what it takes to get an abortion in your community and where the nearest clinic is, even if it's in another state.

No matter what, we must, and will, show up for one another because people who have abortions deserve to be loved and protected. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Stephanie Gomez is a Texas abortion storyteller with We Testify. You can follow her on Twitter @houstephtx.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.