by Nicole Massa
Since I started doing work in the field of reproductive rights and sexual health, I am often asked the question: “Why do you want to do this?” My reply each time is that I believe sexual health isn’t spoken about enough – and I need to make a difference in the world by helping connect all people with the information and services they need. Sexual health and reproductive rights are incredibly important. And, in my eyes, Roe v. Wade was such a huge turning point for women that it simply cannot be ignored or forgotten.
I was fortunate enough this year to attend the Advocates for Youth Urban Retreat and become part of the 1 in 3 Campaign to further my own knowledge on abortion issues. I learned so much from the speakers and the staff, and – because of my experiences – I returned to my campus feeling much more comfortable having conversations about abortion with my peers.
Just a few weeks after I returned home, a friend told me that she was six weeks pregnant and was considering having an abortion. She knew that financially she wasn’t ready for a baby. And, since she recently started her first semester of classes, she felt that the timing was wrong. I was clear that she had seriously weighed her options, which I commended her for, and that having abortion seemed to be the right choice for her. Because of my recent experiences learning about destigmatizing abortion, I felt like I was better able to connect with her and be the supportive friend she needed while she made her decision. I also shared some of the information I knew about the process of having an abortion, and I told her that she could always come to me for support.
It was empowering to know that I could help her in this way when she was going through such a difficult and emotional time. Her experience proved to me just how vital it is for all individuals to have access to safe, legal abortion care.
Personally, knowing that abortion is legal reminds me that I have a choice in how my life will turn out and that I have control over my own body and future. Regardless of whether I would or would not have an abortion if faced with those circumstances, it is so important to know that I have the option and that I have the power to make that decision for myself. Roe v. Wade gives me and so many other women the strength to do what is right for ourselves. It means that we should not be forced into any particular outcome. And it is a reminder that we need to always reach out and offer to support to our friends, family, and peers.
You never know when someone might need you to listen.