When 28-year-old Brittany Mostiller got an abortion in 2008, talking about it with her family was hard enough. She never expected she’d be telling her story in high schools or in the Chicago neighborhoods where she now passes out condoms and information on laws related to reproductive health.
But the organization that helped pay for her procedure, Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF), invited her to join a group of women who meet regularly for peer support and to organize in their communities. Last year, CAF raised $60,000 to help 184 low-income women access second trimester abortions. Four out of five women who receive funds from CAF are of color, said its executive director, Gaylon Alcaraz.
The process of getting these women engaged takes time. After checking in to see what help they need post-abortion – from sexual health information to housing and employment referrals – the organization supports the women in building trust and friendships. That’s the necessary foundation to storytelling.
“I think that women of color want to tell their stories,” Alcaraz said. “There’s no platform. And let you be poor, or let you be fat, or let you be gay. The media is not friendly to that.”
To get around the gatekeepers, CAF creates its own media, including a monthly local TV show called “The A Word.” Mostiller, who is mother to four girls and attends college full-time, has been on the show. At the start, the host introduces herself by saying, “My name is ________, and I’ve had an abortion.”
It was difficult to speak those words on camera early on, Mostiller said. But that’s changed.
“It’s my story. It’s mine to tell,” she told me. “And it’s someone else’s truth also.”