Grief But Not Regret

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How do you make a complicated reproductive choice when you’re racing against the clock? We follow two women in Georgia as they figure out how to end their pregnancies in a state with a 6-week ban. And then we talk to Sister Song’s Monica Simpson about how the Reproductive Justice movement is expansive enough to hold space for people with conflicted feelings about their abortions.

Learn more about SisterSong at

Learn more about Northwest Abortion Access Fund at and Cascades Abortion Support Collective at

And learn more about carefem at and Lilith Clinic at

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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 shortly after the air date.



Lola, Gloria Riviera, Monica, Samantha Bee, Carmen

Lola  00:01

I’ve just been telling them like my back’s been kind of hurting for a few weeks now. And then I’d be like, wow, you know, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night to pee a lot. And so I’m like, but I guess that just means I’m hydrated and then I’d be like, well, I’m bloated. But you know, it’s that time of the month, so my cycles coming.


Gloria Riviera  01:46

Lola had no idea she might be pregnant. She’d been complaining to her co workers about some things going on with her body. Eventually, one of her co workers said something. Maybe Lola should take a test.


Lola  01:59

And I was like, no, I can’t be pregnant. It’s really pointless I just had my period. I’ve been getting a period all year long. If I was pregnant, I would have known it. She’s like, you should just try to do it just in case just see what it comes back as even if it comes back negative, at least you’ve got a clear conscience. So I’m like, okay, if it’s gonna shut you up, I’ll just do it.


Gloria Riviera  02:20

Carmen connected the dots herself. She had tracked her period for years, and she has a daughter, she knew what pregnancy felt like.


Carmen  02:28

I had night sickness, you know, some women experience morning sickness I got sick at night, and so that started to happen and it just made me kind of question, hey, you know, could this be a possibility and the fact that we were intimate, unprotected, you know, when you just kind of put two and two together, you know that the possibility is just there.


Gloria Riviera  02:56

Carmen and Lula don’t know each other. But their stories started in very similar places. They both live in Atlanta, they both found themselves unexpectedly pregnant. And they both took a little convincing that it was true.


Carmen  03:10

When I took the pregnancy test, in all honesty, I took it to say hey, you know, I’m going to see it’s going to be negative, I can just be done with the situation and just move forward with my life, seven pregnancy tests later.


Gloria Riviera  03:24

That’s right, seven tests, Lola’s job and pregnancy tests there. So she took one in the bathroom.


Lola  03:31

And it came back positive. And I’m like, hmm, this can’t be right. So then I was like, okay, let me try this again. So I took another one. And that one came back positive. And I’m like, you know, maybe these tests are expired. Maybe they’re faulty. So I made the same coworker who told me to take the test in the first place. I made her take one, two, and hers came back negative. So I’m like, well, maybe I just have the faulty tests.


Gloria Riviera  03:56

I totally get where Lola is coming from. Sometimes we deploy magical thinking in moments like this, but the magic can only last so long. On the way home from work, she stopped at Walgreens for another test, that one was positive as well.


Lola  04:15

And so that’s when I was like, okay, you know, it seems like, I may be pregnant according to these tests. I’m pregnant, but according to the symptoms, I’m like, it’s just not adding up.


Gloria Riviera  04:27

Lola says she was getting a regular period, and she was also on birth control. So before the tests, she didn’t think she had any reason to suspect she might be pregnant. And she definitely did not think she was very far along. Maybe three or four weeks. She decided to get an ultrasound.


Lola  04:45

And she goes, oh, wow. And I’m like, oh, wow. And she goes from what I can see here a lot further than four weeks. We’ll know for sure when I’m done doing the whole thing. So she goes through the process, but it turns out I was 13 weeks in five days.


Gloria Riviera  05:03

So she was definitely further than four weeks. But four weeks is almost exactly the point that Carmen confirmed her pregnancy.


Carmen  05:12

I had kept track of my cycle for years. So I could definitely pinpoint exactly how far along I was. And the clock truly was ticking for me. I had a matter of like two weeks or so.


Gloria Riviera  05:25

Because this is Georgia, a state with a six week abortion ban. The clock was ticking for both women. As soon as they found out they were pregnant.


Carmen  05:35

In that moment, I was a bit shocked.


Lola  05:37

Flabbergasted, very shocking.


Carmen  05:41

Because you can run so many different scenarios in your mind all you want to, but when reality slaps you in the face, and you’re looking at this, and you’re like, hey, so I’m really here. And it’s not the ideal situation.


Lola  05:59

I knew I automatically didn’t really want to keep it but to find out that this baby is surviving in me so well. And I might well I guess I better weigh my options now.


Gloria Riviera  06:09

Both Carmen and Lola would eventually come to the same conclusion. They don’t want to continue their pregnancies. But because of how far along each of them was Carmen it only four weeks and Lola at nearly 14. Their journeys were very different, and neither was easy. This is The Defenders a show about the fight for freedom in a post roe America. I’m Gloria Riviera.


Samantha Bee  06:36

And I’m Samantha B. This week, we look at what it means to make a complicated decision while racing against a clock. And we talked with Sister songs Monica Simpson, about reproductive justice and how the movement holds space for all these complications.


Gloria Riviera  07:04

Lola is 24 years old, she wants to be a physician’s assistant, she already had plans to apply for a PA master’s program. When she found out she was pregnant. And it just wasn’t a good time.


Lola  07:17

I don’t feel like I’m in a position to raise a child in the best way that it should be. Not to mention I went my whole first trimester without even knowing. So I really don’t know the health issues that that could maybe later cause or anything so I said, if I’m gonna have a child, I would prefer to do it essentially the correct way and be ready for it be able to give it the life that it deserves.


Gloria Riviera  07:39

Lola decided to terminate the pregnancy, but she knew having an abortion in Georgia was out of the question.


Lola  07:46

It was like, Okay, I’m pregnant. I’m 13 weeks and five days. There’s no resources to help me terminate it here so it definitely was an instant response of like, oh, well, what am I going to do now?


Gloria Riviera  07:59

I’m just imagining the dread that sinks in finding out you’re unexpectedly pregnant is already so emotional. And then to add another layer of not knowing what comes next. Sam, can we just talk about why Lola is in this predicament?


Samantha Bee  08:15

We sure can.


Gloria Riviera  08:17

Georgia bans abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. But where does that timeframe stem from? Like why six weeks?


Samantha Bee  08:25

Well, it all comes down to the idea of a heartbeat. George’s ban is based on a fetal heartbeat that is supposedly detected around six weeks. But that heartbeat isn’t really a fetal heartbeat. It’s not even a fetus, yet, it’s an embryo. And embryos don’t have anything we would recognize as a heart. At six weeks of pregnancy, an embryo is the approximate size and shape of a single pea. What it does have is a collection of cells that give off regular electrical impulses which an ultrasound machine translates into something audible. That’s often what people point to as a heartbeat. But it’s more like an electrical flicker, you won’t be able to hear that classic thump thump of an actual heartbeat for another month.


Gloria Riviera  09:15

That is really interesting. When I was pregnant and still pretty early. I remember hearing the electrical impulses. I thought it was the heartbeat. And I remember how special that was for me to hear.


Samantha Bee  09:27

Of course, that totally makes sense. If it’s a wanted pregnancy, that moment can be huge. Hearing those electrical impulses as a heartbeat sound can be very meaningful. And this is precisely why it’s such an effective tool for anti abortion rhetoric. The emotion you felt Gloria and that many other people feel is exploited for political gain.


Gloria Riviera  09:50

Sam that is so messed up.


Samantha Bee  09:52

Yes they use that to pass laws like six week abortion bans or so called informed consent laws that force people to see and listen to an ultrasound before proceeding with an abortion. These medically inaccurate heartbeat bills have passed in more than a dozen other states and post roe. Most of those states have shifted to full abortion bans, which honestly says a lot. Because these six week bounds have always essentially been total abortion bans in disguise. And okay, while we’re at it, there is something else I need to clear up here. When that electrical flicker can be detected around six weeks, well, that is incredibly early to learn you’re pregnant. The start of pregnancy as measured from the first day of your last period. Why do we do it that way, instead of tracking pregnancy from the moment of conception? Well, because conception is an incredibly hard thing to pinpoint. And this is a more reliable way to predict your due date. But measuring this way means you’re including about two weeks before the actual start of the pregnancy. So most of the time, when we say someone is six weeks along, they’ve actually only been pregnant for about four weeks.


Gloria Riviera  11:08

Which is extremely early to know or confirm a pregnancy. Obgyn offices usually won’t even schedule a first appointment until you think you’re about eight weeks,


Samantha Bee  11:19

Right, so even if your uterus is old, faithful, and your cycle is always exactly four weeks long. The earliest you could possibly notice your period is late and take a pregnancy test is four weeks, and one day, and with the electrical flickering being detected around six weeks, that gives you about two weeks to get an abortion if you’re lucky.


Gloria Riviera  11:42

That would be a best case scenario. In real life, most people don’t find out they’re pregnant until after six weeks of pregnancy, which means if they want an abortion, they are scrambling to figure out where to get one.


Samantha Bee  11:55

And that is the world people in Georgia are living in right now. Which brings us back to Lola story.


Gloria Riviera  12:04

Yes, Lola was stressed knowing she couldn’t get an abortion in her home state.


Lola  12:10

I knew I’m on a clock. Now I don’t have a lot of time, I have to start I have to make a choice quick and I have to figure out what state I can go to and how I can get this done.


Gloria Riviera  12:20

Lola had to figure out all the arrangements, where to get an abortion, how to get to that state, how to pay for the procedure, how many days to take off work, who would come with her on the trip.


Lola  12:32

This whole ban after six weeks is very terrible because it’s like if I had the resources in my own state, this is something that I could have got done on a Friday or a Saturday and be back to work on Monday hopefully, but now I have to miss days of work after use my days of PTO that I wasn’t expecting to use.


Gloria Riviera  12:51

In those days off work. Lola flew more than 2000 miles from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon. Lola decided on Portland for a few reasons. One, Oregon doesn’t impose time restrictions on when an abortion is allowed. So Lola could still get care at what ended up being 17 weeks pregnant, which for the record is still early on in a pregnancy, just not by the standard of abortion laws in the south two the clinic she chose connected her with abortion funds, Northwest abortion access fund, and cascades abortion support collective, they paid for a hotel and most of our procedure, she estimates that saved around $1,700, which is a lot of money.


Lola  13:33

I didn’t realize that the further you are the price starts to increase. So with me being at 17 weeks, the total cost of the procedure was $1,200. And then they said if I would have gone to 18 weeks, it would have gone up to $1,400. And so it’s just like, you want to get it done as soon as possible. But when you don’t have the access to do so, it makes everything so much harder and so I was just so grateful to have the funding there.


Gloria Riviera  14:01

Another reason Lola chose Oregon was because that’s where she was born. So if she had to travel, she felt comfortable going there. Sitting on the plane though, Lula said things felt surreal. She sent us some audio recordings from her phone.


Lola  14:17

So right now I am on a plane. It feels Oh no, I guess I woke up this morning feeling like it’s still not kind of happening.


Gloria Riviera  14:27

Lola flew with her mom and sister who were there to offer support.


Lola  14:33

Okay, so we just landed we got our rental and we are now and headed to the clinic.


Gloria Riviera  14:39

And by this point, Lulu was in a different headspace.


Lola  14:43

I was in a very kind of anxious mood earlier today. But now I’m here and we’re on the way. My mood has kind of shifted, I just wanna be quiet and not talk to anyone and not be bothered and be left alone with just me and my thoughts.


Gloria Riviera  15:01

She wasn’t all in her head, her body was also feeling it.


Lola  15:06

I’m also getting winded, because you know, pregnant. So all this, like movement that we’ve been doing had me out of breath.


Gloria Riviera  15:15

Lola had a two day abortion procedure at the Lillith clinic. After each day she returned to the hotel to rest, the first day was focused on opening her cervix.


Lola  15:24

So, yeah, I’m still feeling just a little out of it from the sedation, but overall, feeling, okay.


Gloria Riviera  15:34

It was Lola’s last day being pregnant. And she was still trying to figure out how to process everything. Nothing really sunk in until the second day at the clinic.


Lola  15:45

So I finished the day to procedure. It feels weird to like, say, I’m not pregnant anymore. But if I know, it makes me feel very sentimental, but not in a way that makes me regret my decision.


Gloria Riviera  15:59

Lola recorded this voice memo just as she was leaving the clinic.


Lola  16:04

I feel like after this, I have a different outlook on abortions. I never thought they were bad ever. But I just also understand that the grief and the feelings that also come associated with it, it’s not an easy thing to do. So people that do have to do it for whatever reasons, you know, I just look at them in a different way in a stronger and stronger mentally and physically way.


Gloria Riviera  16:27

Lola explained to me that as she was going to the clinic, her heart was feeling heavy, but she couldn’t pinpoint why.


Lola  16:34

Is it a feeling of regret? Do I want to just say I’m canceling the whole thing that we’re driving there? Or am I feeling sad? Because it’s about to happen? Am I angry with myself for even letting it get this far? And it’s happening without me knowing? So it was like, but what is this feeling? Like? What is the reason behind it?


Gloria Riviera  16:53

Once she got to the clinic, though, things became clear again, she was able to separate the heavy feeling the sadness, with what she knew was the right decision for her.


Lola  17:05

It all started to click for me it was like, no, I don’t regret this decision. When I did have a clear head, I made the decision. And so now that I’m here, it would be selfish of me to decide to keep the baby just because I’m feeling sad now. I want to be the best version of myself when I am ready to have kids. And I know for a fact I’m not ready.


Gloria Riviera  17:27

Having to wait more than three weeks to get an abortion and having to travel out of state because of Georgia’s abortion ban took a toll on Lola’s mental health, which is something she didn’t quite expect.


Lola  17:44

There was no access here in Georgia for me, then that kind of forced the bond even more because every day I wake up, I look in the mirror and I can see that it’s a constant reminder that I am pregnant and it’s hard to act like you’re not when it’s you look in the mirror and it’s right there in their face, you look down and you don’t see your toes anymore, because there’s a belly now and and so it’s like, had I had been able to find out that week, and then that same weekend going get the procedure done. I don’t think it would have taken as much of an emotional toll on me as it did.


Gloria Riviera  18:16

We don’t talk or think about that enough. How a body changes and the time it takes to make arrangements and find funding and figure out all those details. Because Lola was forced to travel. She got an abortion three weeks later than she wanted. And that was despite going as fast as she could. When we come back we’ll pick up Carmen story, who also raced against the clock trying to beat George’s deadline.


Gloria Riviera  21:43

Now getting back to Carmen, remember Carmen is a mom and had a hunch she might be pregnant. When she found out for sure after those seven pregnancy tests, it wasn’t immediately clear what she do. She was about to turn 37 years old.


Carmen  21:59

To find out that I’m pregnant, it was a bit of joy because it’s like okay, now my daughter won’t be the only child.


Gloria Riviera  22:08

But she said the person she was seeing told her that he didn’t want to have a kid with her. If she did have one, the kid would be fatherless.


Carmen  22:17

It was something he didn’t want to move forward with and was very adamant about not wanting to have a child. So for me, I want my children to be made out of love. I want them to be won by both parents, not just one. And that just was not my reality. So it caused me to just be stagnant a little bit and just kind of I was stuck in my feelings. Just not really knowing which direction to go.


Gloria Riviera  22:46

She didn’t have time to be stuck for too long. Because of George’s abortion ban. Carmen was up against a clock.


Carmen  22:52

I had kept track of my cycle for years. So I could definitely pinpoint exactly how far along I was. And the clock truly was ticking for me. I had a matter of like two weeks or so.


Gloria Riviera  23:06

Two weeks, like Sam explained before, that’s the best case scenario with George’s ban, where someone is tracking their cycle and knows immediately that they’re pregnant. Carmen is this person, the time crunch added more stress to every decision she made.


Carmen  23:24

You’re trying to beat a cloth and it puts pressure on like a life changing decision. Regardless, if you choose to move forward with your pregnancy or you don’t, you know that’s a decision that’s going to stay with you and to be rushed, so that you’re not taken to jail or a doctor refuses to treat you it’s just as very unfortunate.


Gloria Riviera  23:47

She needed to figure out where to get an abortion before she ran out of time.


Carmen  23:52

Because that clock is ticking. You don’t really have a lot of time to vet a lot of different places.


Gloria Riviera  24:00

She turned to the internet, she found a place in Atlanta that looked promising.


Carmen  24:05

And this one was close to home and it you know the website and the information, it definitely seemed inviting and so it prompted me to call.


Gloria Riviera  24:12

Carmen says the person she talked to took personal information, like her address and contact to schedule an appointment.


Carmen  24:19

And then they let you know what we’re more of an educational center so we can provide you with information for your options, but we would encourage you to have the baby.


Gloria Riviera  24:30

They might have referred to themselves as an educational center. But Carmen had called an anti abortion center. And it’s exactly what it sounds like anti abortion. These places intentionally deceive people to get them in the door only to try to convince them against ending the pregnancy.


Carmen  24:48

But I definitely play on your emotions like understanding that it could possibly be a tough decision.


Gloria Riviera  24:54

The results of this can be devastating. I mean, Carmen was already under serious time pressure, mistakenly going to an anti abortion center can mean losing precious days. Luckily for Carmen, it was only a phone call and she moved on. Carmen visited two clinics and got an ultrasound at each. She decided to go with the second clinic care FEM health clinic near Midtown and get a medication abortion. Carmen took the first pill at the clinic. Then a nurse gave her the other four pills that she’d take on her own. She left the clinic with a care package. And she did feel cared for.


Carmen  25:37

They gave me a heating pad. They gave me a sanitary napkin of snacks if they let me know they will call me within the next couple days just to follow up and see how things are going.


Gloria Riviera  25:50

Carmen got home and she went to her bedroom, her eight year old daughter and her daughter’s older sister played in another room.


Carmen  25:56

I just sat in my room and you know, I just kind of allow myself to feel whatever the emotion was, it was just sadness I cry.


Gloria Riviera  26:10

Later come into the second set of pills.


Carmen  26:13

And from that point on, it’s just the emotional pain but then you start to feel, you know, the cramping and once I started seeing that first side of the miscarriage, it just it was definitely difficult during that time.


Gloria Riviera  26:29

Her body was effectively going through a miscarriage, which is what happens when you take abortion pills. Carmen said it was harder than a surgical abortion, which she’d had before 16. With the pills, Carmen felt like more of an active participant in the abortion.


Carmen  26:47

It was definitely I will say it was emotionally harder. The second go round. You know, that’s, you know, once you take those second set of pills, and you begin to basically have your cycle. It’s not a normal cycle, you know exactly what’s going on. So just kind of sitting with that.


Gloria Riviera  27:09

Carmen said, doing this, on our own allowed her to have emotional space, she was able to feel everything and release it. And that’s what she said she needed. When we come back, Carmen and Lula talk about grieving their abortions but not regretting them. We’ll hear what grief looks like for each woman. And we’ll talk to sister songs Monica Simpson about how the reproductive justice movement makes room for these complicated feelings.


Gloria Riviera  29:15

How are you feeling about what happened in January?


Carmen  30:13

I still feel like I made the best decision. I know I made the right decision, am I triggered? Absolutely, it’s like everyone around me is praying. You know, I definitely have my moments. But I am in a emotionally much better place than where I was in January and early February because it was a lots of process.


Gloria Riviera  30:38

Carmen and I talked in March, less than two months after she had her abortion in Atlanta. Lola had her abortion in Oregon at the end of May, in the days and weeks after she watched her body go back to normal.


Lola  30:52

My stomach is going down, my boobs are starting to shrink a little bit and they produce milk now, like they’re lactating. And so it’s just like, all these constant reminders that I was pregnant just a few days ago. And now I’m not anymore, it does make me very emotional, but not to the point where I feel like I regret it. And so it’s just like, it’s a whole grieving process. But just I think it just makes me human.


Gloria Riviera  31:18

Carmen and Lola grieve the loss and they don’t regret that it happened. Both can be true at the same time, grief, but not regret. Lola’s grieving process involves talking to the baby she could have had, if she didn’t have an abortion. Lula never got the sex confirmed. But in her head, she was pregnant with a girl.


Lola  31:43

I just talked to her like, she’s, like a human who’s here physically. So you know, just ask for forgiveness and let her know that it wasn’t that I didn’t want you, it was that I wanted you to be able to have the best life that you could possibly have. And so you know, it’s kind of like talking to her like she’s physically here, even though I’m more so speaking to her in a spiritual way, which is good that I live alone, because if anybody saw me, they would think I was crazy.


Gloria Riviera  32:09

When Lola and I had this conversation in June, she was still thinking and talking to the baby every day, first thing after she wakes up and right before she goes to bed.


Lola  32:19

If I want to sit and just grieve the loss, I’m gonna do that. And I did do that but then it’s also like, I can’t allow myself to dwell in it, I have to keep going.


Gloria Riviera  32:28

And she’s doing that. When I talked to Lola, less than a couple of weeks after the abortion, she just started online summer classes, she was back at work and was set to apply for master’s programs to be a physician’s assistant. This is a very common abortion story. Getting the procedure was harder than it needed to be. But you get through it and move on. It doesn’t define you, but it can impact you. These emotions are complicated. It might even be hard to hear or reconcile this type of grief about an abortion. Because this grief is exactly what’s used by anti abortion folks to push back on abortions, and say that women don’t actually want to go through with them.


Monica  33:16

They take advantage of those stories, and then make it seem like see this person didn’t want to add this. And so abortion is bad. No, that’s not what that means at all.


Gloria Riviera  33:27

That’s Monica Simpson. She’s the executive director of Sistersong the largest National Women of Color reproductive justice collective, based in Atlanta. Monica says the reproductive justice movement absolutely makes room for grief and healing after an abortion. Even if the opposition turns that into ammunition.


Monica  33:50

People have to journey through their own healing to take care of themselves, but that we trust that people are making the best decisions for themselves, they should not be shamed for that they should not be coerced into thinking that it’s bad, right? But that we should give people the spaciousness to journey through their emotions and their feelings and to land where they need to land. And so this movement is big enough, in my opinion, for all of that, and it has to be big enough for all of that.


Gloria Riviera  34:18

Monica is so right. Sometimes we want abortion stories to be neat and tidy. So there are no holes to poke through it. No space for gray areas. But the actual reality of these stories of these decisions is that they are complicated. They are nuanced. They are messy. We know the majority of people overwhelmingly feel relief after their abortion. And we’ve heard that from many folks we’ve talked to, but there needs to be space for grief too. What helped Carmen journey through her emotions, was writing a letter before she took the second set of pills during her abortion.


Carmen  34:59

It was titled a letter to the one I told to stay.


Gloria Riviera  35:03

What does that title mean?


Carmen  35:05

It means to stay in an area that is better than the life this child would have been born into. It means to stay safe from a broken and harsh worlds. It means to stay safe from feeling rejected abandon, not worthy admit so just stay in perfect peace.


Gloria Riviera  35:32

Carmen poured her heart out in the letter.


Carmen  35:35

So it was just kind of like, not a farewell letter, but I need you to know, you know, type of letter. And so let me pull it up here. Dear baby, I wanted you I loved you already and you had an even.


Gloria Riviera  35:56

When she and the man she was seeing talked about having a kid together, before she actually got pregnant. When it was just something to daydream about. They talked about having a boy. So that’s who Carmen wrote to a son.


Carmen  36:11

I wanted you to know that as much as I want to do and jumped about you, I needed you to stay where you are cared for best. I didn’t want you to cross over in this life and be met with trauma and inherited generational curse. I didn’t want you to grow up without your dad and have feelings of rejection, abandonment and self doubt.


Gloria Riviera  36:30

Carmen was raised by a single mom, and she’s currently raising her daughter as a single mom. She knows it can be done. But Carmen thinks a father’s guidance is more critical in a son’s life, particularly for what it means to be a black man in America today.


Carmen  36:46

You see to be born black, you were already born until a lifetime disclaimer. This world was given to you to have dominion over but the disclaimer is you would live breathe and understand that others disagree and dare to call you less than they want to label you as trouble. And every day, you would have to keep that in mind.


Gloria Riviera  37:05

Carmen said she considered all these factors, racism, police violence, raising a fatherless son when making her decision to have an abortion.


Carmen  37:16

I mean, we live in a day and age where I’m chanting slogans that black men deserve to grow old. So to possibly give birth to a black son, and know that they’re already subjected to the things we see on television and in the news, to just not have your father as well. It’s just it’s so layered for a child to be born into that type of trauma.


Gloria Riviera  37:44

Sistersongs Monica Simpson, who was also raised by a single mom understands where Carmen is coming from. Monica says racism and how it impacts the ability to feel safe, are just a couple of the many challenges black women face when making reproductive choices.


Monica  38:01

We’ve seen Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice, and Mike Brown. We’ve seen too many, too many of our young, black boys, black children, black people being taken from us because of police violence, and our communities are just not safe in that way and so to think about bringing a black child in particular into this world right now, that is something that is going to make people pause and stop and think.


Gloria Riviera  38:36

Because raising children in safe communities is part of reproductive justice. And Monica says, we don’t frame police violence in that way in how it might affect a person’s decision to have or not have a kid.


Monica  38:49

Like we talk about police brutality, like we have to end it in, you know, abolition, but but the long term impact of just like the decisions that people are now forced to make, because of the type of space that we live in, and what people are up against in their communities is also a barrier for people. There’s just so many things that impact people’s ability to feel safe.


Gloria Riviera  39:12

We need to have expansive reproductive choices to account for all the experiences people could face, even outside the stories we’ve just heard, because we know that our choices are tied to so many other factors, things like race, class, gender, it’s much larger than one person’s decision.


Monica  39:33

Reproductive justice is connected to so many other issues like voting rights, like economic justice, you know, like what people are talking about what’s going on in the environment. If we only focus on the fight for abortion access and not see how all of these issues are connected, then we’re not really moving the needle in terms of like doing the liberation work that is really at the core of what reproductive justice is about.


Gloria Riviera  39:58

Monica, describe the complexity If these factors for someone living in Georgia making reproductive choices, I


Monica  40:05

position myself as a black woman living in the state of Georgia, I now live in the state where I may be if I get pregnant or likely to die in childbirth and white women, I live in a state where so many of the counties, the majority of them don’t even have access to an OBGYN. And now we have a governor that is committed to keeping a six week abortion ban on us in this state. So that’s how we have to look at all the intersections of a person thinking about do I have a child? Am I pregnant? What do I do? Like when you sit the person at the center of that, and you see how all of those things are connected? That is reproductive justice. That’s the work that we’re trying to move.


Samantha Bee  40:49

The reproductive justice framework also recognizes that we often make different decisions at different points in our lives, like Carmen, who had an abortion at 16, became a mom and her late 20s and had another abortion in her late 30s. Our reproductive life is a journey itself.


Monica  41:08

And so the decisions that we make about our bodies, about family creation, about all of that is going to shift and change through that journey. And we’re going to need access to different types of things at different types of health care to all of that through this journey.


Gloria Riviera  41:26

To make that happen, Monica says we need boldness and creativity to envision a world that’s never existed.


Monica  41:33

So that people don’t have to look around themselves and feel like they are in a dire state in their life, right? But that they actually can look and say, I have access to everything I need, so however I want to make my decisions around creating my family or going to school or doing whatever it is, I can do that.


Gloria Riviera  41:54

Think about that for a moment. Sam doesn’t that sound amazing? Access to health care, access to affordable childcare, they decide to have children, a safe community an end to police violence,


Samantha Bee  42:08

It does sound amazing, and not impossible if people like Monica are helping to lead the charge. Because she’s fright. The reproductive justice movement is vast and inclusive. It makes room for complicated feelings. It takes in a person’s whole self and reproductive journey. It’s big enough for contradictions and to know that no matter how complicated these decisions might be, they are yours to make. And the community is here to support you. Because the state you live in, should not dictate your ability to determine your future.


Monica  42:50

Whether that’s to have children or not, whether that is to be a business owner, or to create the next Grammy Award winning song, whatever it is what you’re here to do, you should be able to live that life that’s going to allow you to bring for whatever that thing is that you want to bring forth.


Gloria Riviera  43:13

Next week on The Defenders, we learn about the fight for reproductive justice in the southern most part of Texas where abortion bans intersect with immigration.


Gloria Riviera  43:34

And we go to Mexico to buy something you can’t get across the border in Texas. abortion pills. Hi. Do you have misoprostol? No, no, you can buy them and other places. Okay. I’m looking for misoprostol. That’s next week on the defenders. There’s more of The Defenders with lemon auto premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content like extended interviews with organizers, abortion providers and experts subscribe now in Apple podcasts.


Gloria Riviera  44:06

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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