800 Miles to Freedom

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Episode 1: Back in 2022, shortly after the fall of Roe, Brittany felt trapped. She was pregnant and stuck in an abusive relationship, totally cut off from her support system. She didn’t see a way out – until she happened to hear a radio story about the Midwest Access Coalition, an abortion fund helping people travel across state lines. We follow Brittany’s harrowing journey as she travels hundreds of miles, with the help of a group of volunteer pilots from Elevated Access.

Looking for resources?

If you’re in a domestic violence situation, you can call 800.799.SAFE. Or go to https://www.thehotline.org/. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering self-harm or suicide, you can call or text 988 to access a trained crisis counselor.

You can find an abortion fund through the National Network of Abortions funds at https://abortionfunds.org/need-abortion/

Learn more about Midwest Access Coalition at https://www.midwestaccesscoalition.org/about.

If you need to get in touch with Midwest Access Coalition, please call or text their confidential hotline at 847-750-6224.

Learn more about Elevated Access at https://www.elevatedaccess.org/about.

Gloria Riviera and Samantha Bee are our hosts. Muna Danish is our supervising producer. Lisa Phu is our producer. Isaura Aceves and Tony Williams are our associate producers. Ivan Kuraev and Natasha Jacobs are our audio engineers. Music by Hannis Brown with additional music by Natasha Jacobs. Story editing by Jackie Danziger, our VP of Narrative Content. Fact-checking by Naomi Barr. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs

This series is supported by Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Levi Strauss Foundation.

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To follow along with a transcript, go to lemonadamedia.com/show/ shortly after the air date.



X Mayo, Mike, Gloria Riviera, Brittany, Alison, Samantha Bee

X Mayo  00:34

This episode contains content about abuse and suicidal ideation. Please take care of while listening.


Samantha Bee  01:36

Okay, okay, okay. Okay. Wow, that was bleak.


Gloria Riviera  02:23

Yeah, hearing everything back to back like that?


Samantha Bee  02:27

Was like a supercut of the end of our rights as we knew them. But you know what, Gloria, something tells me that our listeners don’t need a scary montage to feel a sense of hopelessness. Nope. Sam hopelessness is basically the default setting at this point. Hi, welcome. If you are listening to this podcast, you probably already know the states. It is not looking good out there. In the urine changed since Roe was overturned states all over the country have been attacking reproductive rights from every angle possible. There is so much to be mad about. But it’s impossible to be sad and angry. 24/7 I mean, believe me, like I have tried. Being angry is practically my love language.


Gloria Riviera  03:16

Mine too. Since roe fell and for quite a while before that we’ve been angry. Dobbs was not the beginning of this, anti abortion forces have been trying to chip away at the right to abortion for decades. Yes, they have.


Samantha Bee  03:30

I actually think that’s their love language.


Gloria Riviera  03:34

But for every restriction, there was also a form of resistance. So that today there is a community of people all over our country fighting for bodily autonomy, risking their own safety, to make sure others are getting the health care and the support they need. And I am happy to say hope does exist.


Samantha Bee  03:55

There’s hope in a conversation about abortion in America?


Gloria Riviera  03:59

Yes, I promise sometimes in the most mundane of places.


Brittany  04:05

Today, we’re going to tell you Brittany’s story. It’s a story of feeling trapped and finding your way out despite the odds.


Brittany  04:27

There’s now someone to try to call there’s actually hope there was something that I could actually do.


Gloria Riviera  04:33

There are people all over the country going above and beyond to maintain access to life saving care. That’s who you’re going to hear from in this series. People who have been standing up and speaking out long before Roe vs. Wade was overturned.


Samantha Bee  04:57

This is The Defender. A show but the fight for freedom in a post roe America. I’m Samantha Bee. I hosted the show full frontal from 2016 to 2022. And it was among the first to be unapologetic about covering abortion on late night television.


Gloria Riviera  05:13

And I’m Gloria Riviera. My first show with Lemonada Media was about child care during COVID. By our second season, Roe vs. Wade fell and we were talking about abortion. Why? Because a lot of parents need access to abortion.


Samantha Bee  05:27

Behind the bleak headlines, there are people who are fighting every day for us to maintain our rights. We are going to be uplifting that work on this show shining a light on the people who are helping and letting you know how to help them.


Gloria Riviera  05:40

This week, we’re sharing Brittany story of how an abortion fund changed her life.


Samantha Bee  05:58

Abortion funds, they probably sound pretty familiar to you by now. You may have already donated to one. I don’t know maybe at three o’clock in the morning after Doom scrolling for hours. These funds they’re not actually new community care people taking care of each other has always been a part of abortion. But before we get into Brittany’s story, we want to dig a little more into how these funds came to be. For the type of formalized abortion funds we have today. The rubber really met the road in 1976. That is when the Hyde Amendment passed a short three years after Roe v. Wade made abortion legal.


Brittany  06:40

By design, it was like well, we can’t ban abortion now because of this federal protection. But what we can do is make it hard for poor folks, for black folks, for indigenous people of community rural folks, we can make it harder for them to access abortion.


Samantha Bee  06:56

[…] who is the Executive Director of the National Network of abortion funds. So the Hyde Amendment and similar restrictions prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion, which means things like Medicaid, any federal health insurance, even the Peace Corps, they all stopped funding abortions, and that impacted black and brown folks disproportionately.


Brittany  07:18

The poster on reality that folks were so deeply afraid of was actually the lived reality of folks from bipoc communities for so long.


Samantha Bee  07:28

So after the Hyde Amendment, more abortion funds started to form to fill the gaps in access to abortion. In 1993, several funds decided to organize together and founded the National Network of abortion funds. Today, the network partners with around 100 organizations, it’s a number that has been growing as the need grows. Look, a lot of people were already traveling across state lines before jobs. But now with abortion restricted in so many states, you might have to travel 1000 miles to get an appointment where abortion is legal.


Brittany  08:04

If you’re coming from a state like Texas, where abortion is essentially illegal, the reality is that you will be traveling across several state lines to a place where you can get care.


Samantha Bee  08:18

Travelling that far increases all costs, a bus ticket becomes a plane ticket, a day trip becomes a three night stay, there are so many considerations. And the sheer logistics of it all can be debilitating. And that’s by design. If people are so overwhelmed, they might just give up and be forced to carry these pregnancies to term. But abortion funds are here to tell you, no one can force you into a decision about your body. These folks will help you find options. And they’re not just doing it for a pat on the back. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.


Brittany  08:57

It’s not charity. This is like CO conspiring with folks in the communities to make sure they get the services that they want and need. So you know, majority of our funds don’t come at this work with this sort of like savior complex. It really is because people in our communities deserve what is best for them and their families and abortion access and reproductive justice as one pathway towards getting to our collective liberation. So we’ve got to show up for our folks.


Samantha Bee  09:27

I like that you’re saying co conspiring.


Brittany  09:30

Oh yeah, yeah, no, I’m like, I don’t need folks to just be allies. And I need you to Jack stuff up with me here and do the work with us.


Gloria Riviera  09:42

Yeah, Jack stuff up with us. I get it. I’m out the door.


Samantha Bee  09:47

You know, it’s a real spirit of collaboration of showing up for each other. So today, it makes sense that we are kicking off this series with a woman who goes above and beyond to show up for someone, a co conspirator of the highest order, Gloria, I’m gonna leave it to you.


Gloria Riviera  10:07

Thank you, Sam. An important thing to know about Brittany is she’s a pet person, not a baby person.


Brittany  10:17

I never wanted children. I’m sure they’re great. I just never had that instinct. I’ll fight you for a kitten. But when it comes to babies, like, I never, never had the interest.


Gloria Riviera  10:28

We’re using only Brittany’s first name to protect her safety. And we are not being specific about her location. We’re going to start with Brittany story just after she met her boyfriend. They were both playing Pokemon Go in a park. In the beginning, things were good.


Brittany  10:45

He seemed super sweet, very affectionate, very intelligent, more sweet than normal. But it was refreshing, I guess, which kind of made me let my guard down.


Gloria Riviera  10:58

After several months of dating, they decided to move to the southeast together.


Brittany  11:02

And everything was fine and loving and sweet. And as soon as we got there, everything turned.


Gloria Riviera  11:08

Brittany says he took away her phone her wallet. So she had no form of identification. And he didn’t allow her to use the internet when he was home taking the modem with him. When he left the house.


Brittany  11:18

He would even take the cord to the TV, the plug in cord and unplug it from the back so that it couldn’t even watch TV.


Gloria Riviera  11:25

He tracked anytime she even stepped out of the house with an outdoor camera. He took all the food with him. So she couldn’t even eat when he was gone.


Brittany  11:33

Even the windows upstairs were painted shut. This is an old place. So I mean, there was I even tried Windows upstairs. I could so there was no escaping without him knowing. I didn’t even know where the police department was because I didn’t have phone to look that up to even know which direction to run if I did. It just got to be hopeless and depressing.


Gloria Riviera  11:51

Brittany was trapped. She was also pregnant. And she didn’t want to be. She was a couple of months along. She guessed she really didn’t know. Tell me about that. Did Did he know you were pregnant? When did you suspect that you were pregnant?


Brittany  12:06

Oh, he knew immediately he was hoping for it. It came up in arguments that you can’t get away from me now. I mean, you got me forever. So we need to work this out.


Gloria Riviera  12:14

This was another way her partner tried to trap her.


Brittany  12:17

Literally weaponized my own body against me to keep me under his thumb, he thought I would become more willing to take the abuse in the control by thought that he would take my child that he was going to obviously force me to have.


X Mayo  12:34

Brittany’s partner wanted to use her pregnancy to control her. This is unfortunately common. So common, there’s actually a phrase for it. reproductive coercion. And rates of this kind of abuse have been on the rise since Roe fell. Abortion bans give abusers even more power. Brittany was in panic mode.


Brittany  12:54

I was thinking about suicide on a daily basis because even if I could get actual phone service, there was no one to call. There was no family, there was no one. If I had this man’s child, I would have to deal with him forever.


Gloria Riviera  13:08

You were trapped. You’re feeling helpless and hopeless and thinking about suicide.


Brittany  13:14

Every day. And it got to the point where that was calming to me.


Gloria Riviera  13:20

Britney did have one thing that kept her going a calico kitten about four to five months old.


Brittany  13:26

One of the times that I was in the yard, there was a super tiny little fluffball kitten that I had found. And I wasn’t really standing up for myself, but I threw a complete fit to make him go get a bottle and everything for it. Because she wasn’t gonna make it she was super dehydrated and sick and stuff. I was determined that it was going to be me and her and I was getting us both out. I’d stay awake all night to make sure that it didn’t fall asleep and she got out because I was worried that he would hurt her killer when I was asleep. She definitely gave me something else to care about besides myself because I had gotten to the point that I wasn’t caring about myself.


Gloria Riviera  14:05

Sam, I know you’re a cat person. So I feel like this is a good place to pause. How’re you doing so far?


Samantha Bee  14:12

I’m very thankful for the kitten in this scenario. Just Yes. Sometimes you need an outside force to like help you muster the strength to act. Does that make sense?


Gloria Riviera  14:25

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, hearing her talk about it made me feel good that she had something to care for and she will put her foot down for that little kitten when she has no power elsewhere in that dynamic.


Samantha Bee  14:42

Yes. Like it brought mission or brought like it brought purpose. Just a little cat like a little cat a list. I said it. I’m not ashamed that I said it.


X Mayo  14:57

So aside from taking care of her little catalyst Brittany wasn’t able to do much else. She had no phone, no internet, no TV, she couldn’t leave the house without it, resulting in a huge fight. But her partner didn’t think of everything. Britney had access to a radio, remember radios, it was built into an old record player. Britney turned it on to listen to something besides the silence something to give her a break from thinking about her life, or ending her life.


Brittany  15:27

I honestly wasn’t looking for music or anything. I just wanted noise, just something and I turned it on and I walk away, I go to the bathroom. And it takes me a second to realize what they’re even talking about. Because they’re already in mid conversation.


Gloria Riviera  15:41

What they were talking about that day, that minute, was the Midwest access Coalition on abortion fund. When you listen to that story about the Midwest access coalition, what did you hear? What do you remember taking away from hearing that story?


Brittany  15:58

It was specifically the travel part they were talking about, of course, you know, Roe versus Wade, and all the new abortion laws and everything, and about how women were having to travel out of their states and how some small towns, you know, they wouldn’t have access to it or people without enough money wouldn’t be able to travel out of state and they were having to wait to be further along with there’s more complications. And what they were talking about was my situation, and that they could help me get out of there.


Gloria Riviera  16:28

She couldn’t quite believe what she heard. But Midwest access coalition planted a seed that would become her actual escape plan.


Brittany  16:37

I wrote down the email and the phone number. Britney had hope. What are the chances I turn on the radio instead of hearing some country station because I’m in the country. You know, I’m hearing what I needed to hear about a place and a coalition and a whole group of people that are looking to help someone in my situation. It was unreal. And it took hours to stop crying, but out of the hope of my only way out isn’t suicide.


Brittany  17:10

That there is a chance that despite having no one to call, there’s now someone to try to call, there’s actually hope there was something that I could actually do, there’s a step that I could take to try to save myself.


Gloria Riviera  17:24

Brittany had to wait until her partner left the house before she could attempt to contact Midwest access coalition. That would be her only chance.


Brittany  17:33

It took another week before he was gone long enough.


Gloria Riviera  17:37

Remember, Britney’s boyfriend had taken her phone. But she had an old cracked phone hidden away that she had kept for contacts. She didn’t know if it would even turn on. Thankfully it did.


Brittany  17:49

I took that phone. And I had ran to a Hardee’s about the only thing in that town and use their Wi Fi and sent the Midwest access coalition, an email with a short paragraph just glazing over the situation I was in because the whole time my heart’s racing. I’m just like he’s gonna come home before I’m back.


Gloria Riviera  18:09

Do you remember what you wrote in that first message?


Brittany  18:11

It was just that I have no access is mainly telling them that you send me emails and everything but I won’t be able to respond. But that does not mean that I’m okay. It does not mean that I don’t need the help. I need the help. And you were the only the only help I can think of or the only help I can find.


Gloria Riviera  18:27

That was your SOS?


Brittany  18:28

Yeah. 100%


Gloria Riviera  18:30

Brittany got an automatic reply email back.


Brittany  18:33

It was like we’re very busy. But we received your email an advocate will be getting back to you as soon as we can. After


Gloria Riviera  18:40

sending that first email. It was another week before Brittany was able to get back to Hardee’s.


Brittany  18:45

And it’s just a stressful I’m just as freaked out when I get to Hardee’s and I opened the emails she’s sent to maybe three at that point.


Alison  18:54

I just said this is absolutely not your fault. Of course we can help. Is it safe to reach back out to you? I’m going to take your case like how can we move forward from here?


Gloria Riviera  19:05

Who was that person?


Brittany  19:07

That was Alison with Midwest access coalition.


Gloria Riviera  19:11

I was intrigued was emailing Brittany from home a pygmy goat farm in the rural Midwest. She bought the farm as a form of self care after years of working in the abortion field, which she has been doing now for about 15 years. So Alison was ready when Brittany emailed her.


Alison  19:28

It was a Sunday, I was on my way to have brunch with a friend. And I got an email from Brittany. And she said can you come get me tomorrow? And that felt really fast. But it also felt really definitive like something was going on. She said that her former partner’s behaviors had changed and she felt like now she was in danger. her, like immediate danger.


Brittany  20:02

So she’s told me she herself was flying out and going to come and pick me up.


Gloria Riviera  20:08

She writes to you, you read the words in an email. I’m going to come get you. I’m going to help you. What is your reaction when you read those words?


Brittany  20:18

Loud crying in the middle of a Hardee’s with a bunch of strangers looking at me and I do not care. I couldn’t believe that. There was not just hope that there was somebody. And I don’t know why I trusted her. But the way she said she was coming, I knew she was going to do everything she could to get there. There was no well, as long as this works out, or we’ll try this. It was I’m coming to get you tell me how to get you.


Alison  20:44

And so that’s when I dropped all of my plans. And I told my husband, I called my lawyer I called people at Midwest Texas coalition to let them know what was happening, and I just booked a flight.


Gloria Riviera  21:05

Allison flew out that same afternoon. after the short break, we’ll hear what happens when Alison helps Brittany escape.


Alison  21:31

At an auto parts store and Hardee’s and that was about it. You know, from what I saw, I was driving past a lot of fields of cotton, that look like hay barrels. And then I pulled up to the house and there was a lot of cars outside and I was worried about that. And she wasn’t out there and I couldn’t see like any you know, movement or anything.


Gloria Riviera  24:19

Brittany had figured out the Wi Fi code after watching her partner put it in, though he didn’t know that. So she was able to communicate with Allison during these crucial moments.


Alison  24:29

I got an email from her and she said he’s here I need like 15 more minutes and so I drove around to the Hardee’s and like scarf down a cheeseburger and went to the bathroom.


Gloria Riviera  24:43

Meanwhile Brittany was planning a quick exit.


Brittany  24:48

My heart’s just pounding just don’t mess this up. Don’t let him see the phone. Don’t check it too many times. Like he walks out of the room for a second I I check to make sure nothing’s changed, that she’s still gonna be there that Time and then I’m just scared that he’s going to pop in the door and see the phone and take it before. You know, I can get to her.


Gloria Riviera  25:06

Her shoes and bags were ready to go. And of course, she planned to bring her kitten.


Brittany  25:06

I didn’t have a carrier for I had a little zip up cooler. One of the big ones like you put like a bunch of sandwiches or something.


X Mayo  25:21

With her cat in a cooler, Brittany was officially ready to run for her life. But there was a problem. On her way back to Brittany. Allison realized she driven over a piece of metal that was now lodged in the tire of her rental car.


Alison  25:37

And so I pulled up to like the Dollar Store to like try to deal with this metal thing in the tire. My dad, these two Jehovah witnesses came over and helped me pull it out and told me where a car shop was, which was right across the street. And he looked at it and no air was leaking. So like all these weird things were happening that were like, intensifying, and then, you know, it was time to go back.


Brittany  26:08

She goes, I’m doing circles around you. Okay, come out whenever you’re ready. And I said, I’m coming now with exclamation points. And I put on my shoes, and he stands up. And I grab the kitten and I throw it in the cooler. And he starts I don’t even hear him at this point. I know he’s he’s asking me what I’m doing. And he’s getting agitated, and I don’t hear him at all. I’m just doing with grabbing my stuff. And I’m leaving pretty much everything and just grabbing what I can run away with. And I run down the stairs with the cat and he’s right behind me. And I run out the front door. And there she is, she’s pulling up. And I’ve run to the car and she goes Honey, just put stuff in the car. And I dropped a couple things on the way a couple bags as I’m going because the kitty carrier kind of slips down. And he’s trying to talk to her through the window. And she’s like, sort of step away from the vehicle.


Alison  26:59

He kind of looked like a sidewalk protester outside of an abortion clinic. Like he was a young white man. And he was carrying a book around. And so I was just like, it reminded me of a Bible or something which kind of made me chuckle.


Brittany  27:16

Then he starts in well, I don’t know what she’s gotten those bags. Like she might be taking things I’m calling the cops. Do you know that she has a cat. And that’s my cat and blah, blah, blah. And at the time, of course, Allison didn’t even know about the cat at all. He doesn’t skip a beat and she’s like, it’s fine. The cats fine. Just come on Brittany, get in the car.


Alison  27:36

And Brittany got in the car and I just, you know, drove so fast out of there. I was checking my mirrors constantly, making sure no one was following us.


Brittany  27:48

I’m shaking. And she just grabs me by the arm and she’s like, it’s up. Hey, honey, you’re good. We got you.


Samantha Bee  27:59

This is astonishing. The way that Allison dropped everything in that scenario dropped, everything should go and do what needed to be done. It’s mind blowing story.


Gloria Riviera  28:12

It’s like moment by moment. I can see it in my mind unfold. And I get angry at him because he says, That’s my cat. It’s like you know what? Go fuck yourself, buddy.


Samantha Bee  28:25

I feel like Allison would have put Brittany on her back and crawled across a redwood forest floor and crawled to the center of the earth to get this woman to help that she needed. Unbelievable.


Gloria Riviera  28:41

She would have done anything.


Samantha Bee  28:42

And Brittany somehow knew to put our trust in Allison. I mean, it’s unimaginable actually, when you listen to the story, how many things could have gone wrong along the way. And yet somehow she’s in the car. She’s got the cat. Allison’s there and they drive away.


Gloria Riviera  29:01

Alison drives Brittany to an abortion clinic so she could get an ultrasound. She says her partner never took her to see a doctor. That’s when Brittany found out she was 24 weeks along much further than she thought she was. And the state she was in at the time, allowed abortions up to only 20 weeks. Now 20 weeks sounds progressive, but it’s not an abortion ban at any point in a pregnancy, whether it’s at six weeks or 26 weeks, is still a ban meant to restrict your freedom and deny health care. They’re all BS time limits set in place in large part by uninformed lawmakers. While most abortions happen in the first nine weeks, people need access to abortions later in pregnancy for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you didn’t find out you’re pregnant until 12 weeks, or you learned of a fetal anomaly during your 20 week scan. Or maybe you wanted an abortion earlier, but you couldn’t get an appointment because As your local clinic is overwhelmed with patients traveling from out of state, whatever the reason, it’s none of your state politicians business. abortion care should not be restricted based on time. So even though Brittany had just escaped hell, she’d have to get on a plane and fly to a less restrictive state to get care. Alison arranged a flight. But there was a problem. Brittany still didn’t have identification. No, Id remember her abusive partner had taken it.


Brittany  30:33

I was just so anxious that that was going to be the hang up. Yeah. And she just kept reassuring me that everything’s fine.


Gloria Riviera  30:42

Brittany, the way you’re describing it, it sounds like at every point at which you felt anxious. Allison had an answer.


Brittany  30:49

Yeah, she was like, just don’t, don’t worry about anything. And then you know, any questions that I have? Or what if this happens or what have the entities that will deal with it? It was nothing’s gonna stop us getting you out of here. Nothing’s gonna stop us getting you the treatment you need. You’re not gonna have to have his baby. I got you the whole time.


Gloria Riviera  31:10

You are being taken care of 100%


Brittany  31:13

Like literally I told her I’ve told her multiple times she needs a cape.


Gloria Riviera  31:20

When we come back, we’ll learn about other superheroes, a group of pilots flying people to abortion appointments for free.


Gloria Riviera  31:36

Okay, Sam, where we left off, Alison had helped Brittany escaped from her home and her abusive partner. But Brittany still has to now travel across state lines and she doesn’t have an ID. That seems like a huge problem. Right? Can you imagine trying to fly in America without an ID?


Samantha Bee  34:49

Oh, absolutely not. Last week I tried to go through airport security with a half eaten yogurt. I thought they were gonna like call the canine unit on me. Okay, okay, I feel like you’re about to tell me that Allison had a plan? Correct?


Gloria Riviera  35:06

Because Alison knows people who know people. So she was able to arrange a flight for Brittany with elevated access to beautiful words. Have you heard about them? No. Okay, so elevated access is a group of volunteer pilots all over the country. They give their time, their plane, their skills, gas, money, everything to help people access the health care they deserve. Whether that’s an abortion or gender affirming care, these pilots are flying people for free to their appointments, and no ID is required.


Samantha Bee  35:40

Okay, because it’s a private plane. Exactly.


Gloria Riviera  35:44

But here’s another cool fact, the guy who founded elevated access actually volunteered at Midwest access coalition where Allison works. It’s a beautiful full circle moment. He started the organization in 2022, in part as a response to what he saw their people having to deal with all the extreme health care bands popping up around the country. So Alison contacted him and found a private pilot for Brittany.


Brittany  36:15

We pulled up to the plane, I didn’t realize how small it was gonna be. It was very nice. But it was very small.


Mike  36:21

We’re talking small plane, think of a Honda Civic size thing. It’s only four seats.


Gloria Riviera  36:27

That’s Mike, we’re using just his first name to protect his safety.


Mike  36:31

You could tell she has just gone through a lot, right? That she was her mind was in 1000 different places and just trying to process everything that was going on. And so you know, my goal was just try to make the flight the easiest part of her day, right, keep everything calm, make sure she was comfortable.


Gloria Riviera  36:49

He could see right away that one way to help Brittany was to help her kitten.


Brittany  36:53

At this point, we didn’t have a carrier anything. So she’s still in that little zip up cooler, but she’s very well behaved. So she was just relaxing.


Mike  37:00

I have two cats at home. And so I had an extra cat carrier. I’m like, I’ll just bring the cat carrier with me. Who knows what she was able to bring with her.


Brittany  37:08

And they brought towels and everything did make the carrier all comfy.


Gloria Riviera  37:12

With her kitten taking care of Brittany felt much better.


Mike  37:16

She seemed relatively comfortable. When we got up to the plane and getting settled.


Brittany  37:20

He loaded my stuff in the back. And he gave me the headphones. And he was like, if you want to talk to me during the flight, do you have any questions you can talk and he goes, or if you’d rather not, you can just you know, turn the volume down.


Mike  37:33

I usually offer them the back seat because it’s it’s the most comfortable spot, there’s two seats back there. So it’s a little more space to spread out.


Brittany  37:40

And he goes you can take a nap if you wanted to. And at the time, I thought like that would be ridiculous. Like the last thing I’m going to do is go to sleep. And we get everything going and we take off. And again cats being very well behaved. It was just, that’s when I knew that. Like with every few minutes, I realized how far further away from him. I was farther away from the craziness and how much there was no way he could get a hold of me like this wasn’t happening. Like I was free. And I’d say within 30 minutes, I was asleep. I slept probably at least an hour. Deep sleep. Oh yeah. I just had my finger in the carrier on my little kitten because she was holding my finger. And I just I slip on top of the carrier like hunched over. And the carrier the little lines, little metal on the top of it was actually intended in my cheek. Yeah, just slept really hard and woke up and felt better than I had felt in months. During the flight. I lucked out and we were above the clouds. But there were also clouds above that. And there was sun shining through and it was just beautiful. And I was so grateful that I hadn’t killed myself that I hadn’t. I never thought I was gonna get out of there. But I’m just so glad that I had just given myself the time to find a way out of there.


Mike  39:15

There was some some building clouds. And as you fly through those, you guys the clouds lift so does the plane. And so we got some bumps going through a couple of those.


Brittany  39:25

And he looked back, I can tell by his face. He was like, Oh, she’s probably gonna look uncomfortable. And I was actually I had just woken up. I’m probably from the turbulence and we were surrounded by clouds like you couldn’t see past the tip of the the wings. And at that point, I’d never felt so fearless. I’m like, if the plane goes down, then that’s fine. I’m fine with it. I’m just happy to be there. Like it was just so much peace but at the same time like I knew I was okay.


Gloria Riviera  39:52

Mike flew Brittany roughly 800 miles across several state lines. About four hours later, they landed in the Midwest.


Mike  39:59

We got out of the plane, we got her like all the bags into the person that was picking her up and she came home. She’s like, can I give you a hug? And I was like, Yes, of course. Because I think she was just like, so relieved to have gotten somewhere and to be there. And, you know, I think you could just tell they’re just going like this wait kind of lifted off of her.


X Mayo  40:20

Brittany had a two day abortion procedure, and she was so ready. After each day, she got to return to her little kitten in a hotel room that Alison had arranged. This was all happening right before Christmas. Brittany, how did you feel after the procedure?


Brittany  40:37

That was my first time to actually take a deep breath and look at what all it happened. It had been so fast and so much stress. And so just chaos that I had never had a second to really appreciate what l had just went through. And it was a snow storm. And it was Christmas and I was just could not be happier to be in that hotel with my little kitty. And done with it. I cried. But it was it was happiness. It was just relief. It was six months of tears, just six months of stress and pain and just fear and hopelessness just literally I cried it all out.


Gloria Riviera  41:24

Brittany spent the Christmas holiday playing with her cat taking videos of her cat watching TV and not consumed with all the things she had been worrying about just days prior. Eventually, Brittany got her ID back. We’re not just talking about a driver’s license, Britney was able to get a new birth certificate, her former partner had destroyed her old one. She also got a new social security card. She credits Alison for everything.


Brittany  41:53

Just the way everything worked out. It was just too, too perfect.


Gloria Riviera  42:00

Brittany says Alison also gently pushed her to take ownership of her life and help herself.


Brittany  42:06

`1Even though I was still a little shut down. She was like, I’m gonna send you numbers to call. And these are people I know with housing, and all sorts of assistance, but you need to call them


X Mayo  42:19

Alison and Midwest access coalition didn’t just help Brittany access an abortion to help her out of an abusive situation and give her a new life. Now Brittany is in her own apartment where she says she has two years of paid rent and utilities, services and support are being wrapped around her things like gift cards to Walmart vouchers for clothes and furniture, monthly bus passes on site counselors and group meals, all the results of that first email that ended up with Alison.


Brittany  42:51

Through Allison, I now have two years to actually get my life together. I have my own apartment with my own key where my kid is safe all day, within a month of being there already had a job, I’m saving money. And by the time two years is up, I’m gonna be able to you know, go back to being on my own in my own place. With my own vehicle and everything.


Gloria Riviera  43:16

So when you wake up every day now Brittany, in this new life, what’s it like for you?


Brittany  43:23

Just the simplest things bring me tears of joy, just my kitten playing on the floor while I’m washing dishes. Like, my concern for the day is that I have laundry detergent to do laundry. Not if some psychos going to come in and have a screaming fit for two days. And I have this thing growing inside me that I don’t want in the I have nowhere to turn and just constant suicidal thoughts. And to be now crying happy tears while doing dishes. In my apartment. I know that I’m there and I’m safe.


Gloria Riviera  43:55

Throughout my whole conversation with Brittany. She kept saying over and over how Alison was this hero that she should be wearing a cape? But Alison doesn’t see it like that.


Alison  44:06

It’s not my story. It’s Brittany’s you know, and so she tells me all the time. Thank you so much. You’re my superhero. You’re my hero. And I’m like, You’re my freakin hero. You did this actually. You’re the one who reached out. You’re the one who like made this happen. I just had the resources to get us over the finish line.


Gloria Riviera  44:30

How critical was it for Brittany to get that abortion?


Alison  44:33

I mean, I it saved her life. She said it. I’ve said it. You know the abortion movement says that abortion saves lives all the time. And that’s true for my own abortion story. Abortion saved my life but Brittany, her life was really fucking saved.


Gloria Riviera  44:50

It was and Brittany doesn’t want anyone else trapped in that situation to stay.


Brittany  44:56

Don’t give up. There are other steps. You don’t have to be ashamed Despite what somebody might be telling you, you don’t have to be. There is a whole community of people who care and want to help you out of the situation. And that will literally be superheroes for you. All you have to do is find them in ask.


Gloria Riviera  45:21

There are people all over this country waiting for you to find them waiting for that call or text. Allison was there to respond to Brittany, but Allison’s not alone. There is a huge network of helpers, making sure everyone has access to the healthcare they need. Okay, so Sam, we started off with a very angry montage. You did? Yes. But then we heard Britney and Allison’s incredible story of hope. I told you hope exists. How are you feeling now?


Samantha Bee  45:51

Okay, well, to be honest, I’m still very mad. But I love this story. And I’m so grateful that people like Alison exist, but why the hell does someone need a league of literal superheroes to make it to a doctor’s appointment? Also, I’m guessing there are way more Brittany’s than there are Allison’s right now. And that is fairly scary.


Gloria Riviera  46:12

Yeah, that is very scary. The need is rising, and the donations are dwindling. So if you can support a fund, like the Midwest access coalition, or the national network of abortion funds, that is a great place to start.


Samantha Bee  46:26

The donations aren’t everything. There are so many ways to help. You can volunteer your time to support a fund, or when your friend calls you because they missed their period. You can steer them to accurate information and resources. Okay, maybe you can’t fly a plane, but you can offer to put together care packages to support people during an abortion.


Gloria Riviera  46:48

It can be so simple a heating pad and it goes a long way.


Samantha Bee  46:52

Yes, anyone can become a defender. And that is where this show comes in.


Gloria Riviera  46:57

We have so many stories for you stories that will enrage you, yes. But they’ll also inspire you to get out of bed and figure out where you fit in this fight. Because it’s going to take every single one of us and we will win. Here’s what’s coming up in the defenders.


Samantha Bee  48:34

The Defenders is a production of Lemonada Media. We’re your hosts Gloria Riviera, and Samantha Bee. Muna Danish  is our supervising producer. Lisa Phu  is our producer. Isaura Aceves and Tony Williams are our associate producers. Ivan Kuraev and Natasha Jacobs are our audio engineers. Music by Hannis Brown with additional music by Natasha Jacobs. Story editing by Jackie Danziger, our VP of narrative content. Fact checking by Naomi Barr. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This series is supported by Charles and Lynn Schusterman, Family Philanthropies, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Levi Strauss foundation. Follow The Defenders wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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