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How People of Color Survive in an Abortion Desert | MTV Impact


– [Man] The scripture says he's a righteous judge and he's angry with the wicked every day! He sent this upon you as a mankind and now there is a day of reckoning and you will not escape Nothing is hidden from God's sight

– [Yoonj] If you're wondering why he's talking to a wall, the pink house on the other side is actually an abortion clinic He's trying to convince the people inside the clinic not to get an abortion – [Man] Holy, holy, holy! Holy, holy, holy! – This is the last abortion clinic in Mississippi and even though it's open to the public not every woman makes it here That's because Mississippi is one of the 26 abortion deserts in America Areas where people have to travel more than a hundred miles to reach an abortion facility

The state has TRAP laws, which stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers What are some TRAP laws in Mississippi? – There's one that requires a patient to meet with a physician, the person who's doing the procedure, at least 24 hours before the procedure This year the legislature wasn't satisfied with that so they passed a bill saying that no abortions after a heartbeat is detected which is essentially six weeks – And that's medically inaccurate, right? It's not exactly a heartbeat, I've heard from doctors? – Sure, it's a pulse Yeah, wealthy women are gonna be able to find an abortion wherever they want, whenever they want

– Right, right – So this has affected low income women before Roe and after Roe But by taking away choice and making it so restricted, it has essentially gone back to the pre-Roe era for many women in the state – [Yoonj] So in the state that seems to have turned its back on low income women of color, it was a black woman who went ahead and founded the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, the only unlimited reproductive fund in the state I visited them at their headquarters, a

ka at The Fund Shack How does the fund work to reach the women that the health department can't reach? – The main provider for free birth control in Mississippi is the health department The health department isn't open after five, they're not open on the weekend

And a lot of the health department offices are only open for STI and birth control like a couple times a week – [Yoonj] Right So if you work, which lots of poor people work, when are you coming? But we try to meet people where they are so that means if like they need money for gas and their birth control, like gas to get to the next county to get their birth control, then that's what we give them I think it's really funny 'cause the big talking point that anti's love to use around here, is like, "Oh my God, it's black genocide, "like all these black babies, that's a tragedy" First of all, they don't show up for black babies any time other than to shout and shame black women so they can entirely miss me with their faux concern for black babies and black women

They don't care about us at all Like ever – If this fund didn't exist what would be the option? – People just have to give birth Like they just have children they didn't plan on having And that they may not even want

Like, I'm– – Or afford – Right, and I'm fortunate that, like, I made peace with the fact that I had to give birth, and I love my child, and we're great That doesn't mean that it wasn't traumatic And it doesn't mean that it wasn't hard, right? And like no one should have to have that trauma – [Yoonj] The Fund Shack is usually busy with volunteers and clients coming through the house to grab supplies or get counseling from Laurie and Kayla, her daughter, who quit her job to work at the fund

Okay, so you got the diapers? – [Kayla] Yeah this is goin' out today, the diapers and our little car seats – [Yoonj] And they were all sent in, right? Like by random donors? – Oh yeah, random donors We get some every day I mean every day There's no day that we don't have no donation box

We have noodles, our free pantry – And this is JJ? – Yup, I'm JJ – How old are you? – 19 – 19, sweet, and you're also, you guys are sisters, right? – Yes – Yup

– Yes (laughs) You help with the Fund Basically everyone in this house is either a volunteer or one of Laurie's kids and they run this place together like a family And so this is also like a place where people can drop off their kids, their cats (Kayla laughing) Stray kitties

There's a baby His pants are falling off, okay Let's move to this room – We also have a new donation for a bed right here We also about to give that away probably next week

– Oh you guys give away mattresses too – Yes, especially if you just come into a new house – And how long have you guys been in here, about a year? – Yeah about a year that we started finally getting stuff settled – Can we check out the trailer in the back? – Oh yeah, let's go – There's an extra bedroom

Donations – So this is our boxes of Plan B – Plan B – Plan B (laughs) – You guys give that out too? – We do, 'cause it's $50 for one horse pill, and we think that is outrageous

– That is outrageous – So we try to help everybody out (laughs) – [Yoonj] In terms of hard numbers each month they fund three to four abortions and provide around 10 women with nonfinancial donations like all the stuff we saw in the house That day I tagged along with Kayla to deliver diapers – [Kayla] I call myself an abortion doula

– [Yoonj Kim] An abortion doula, what is that exactly? – Like a support person – Right, you've had an abortion right? – I have – [Yoonj] When you were younger? – Yes, 15 – You were 15 How old are you now? – [Kayla] 21

– 21 – I was broke (laughs) – [Yoonj] You were broke – I was broke, I was young I was, don't get me wrong, I thought, it's a hard decision

A lot of pro-lifers, a lot of people that's against abortion think we wake up pregnant and you just wanna get an abortion No, that's hard thinking I mean like you cry over that sometimes – [Yoonj] Do you feel like you're heard by the government or the department of health here in that way? – The government, no The government, no

They trying to shut down all the abortion clinics anyway They not on our side – [Yoonj] The way some see it is like this The government makes it difficult for people to get abortions, which forces them to have children they know they won't be able to afford Then once the child is born they have to figure out a way to make end's meet

Of course there are others who want to have their kid, for whom some extra diapers could go a long way It's your first baby? – [Kayla] All positive energy on this baby – So like once the baby's born you guys will like bring some of the other stuff from the house? – Oh yeah! – Like the wipes or the wash – Oh yeah, we'll get her some more stuff It's gonna pop next week

– Right – Yeah – Do you think one day you want to have kids? – I do A little mini-me, a little crazy me – [Yoonj] What are you waiting for? – The right time, when I have a better body condition, better health condition

I have asthma, I can't even walk up the street when I'm sick – So what did women around here do before you guys existed? – They'd try to make a way I know somebody that did that, personally – She drank bleach – She drank bleach, she mixed bleach and alcohol together because she couldn't really have another child

– Right, and she didn't have access to the clinic or the money? – Yes – [Yoonj] I'm gonna call a woman who's now a client of the Fund Can you tell us what happened before you met Laurie and the Fund? – [Woman] I was lookin' for ways to pay for one, like I had just found out that I was pregnant I made too much to be on Medicaid, I made too much for any other type of assistance Which insurance wouldn't cover it, so that was kind of a last resort

– Do you know what would have happened if you had not met Laurie, if you didn't find out about the Fund? – [Woman] I didn't wanna do anything that would hurt me or hurt my fertility, but I can't have this baby now I can't have this baby by this person – [Yoonj] Right – If I can't get help then I'm gonna have to do somethin' I'm gonna have to (laughs) you know look up some old wise tales or somethin' 'cause I just, there's no way I was goin' through that pregnancy

– Now you are pregnant again? – Yeah, I am – [Yoonj] You're gonna have the baby? – Yes – How does it feel after you had an abortion the first time, to be able to have a baby now on your own terms? – I really don't think about it to be honest I don't regret the abortion, I don't feel any guilt about it I'm just happy that, I'm just tryin' to celebrate this child and I'm happy that I'm able to bring this life into the world

– It's clear that it's not just abortion that comes into play when a woman gets pregnant but her ability to have a family on her own terms And that's the gap that the Reproductive Freedom Fund so urgently fills for low income women of color in the state Because really they're all they have There's no one else who's going to help them in the way that they really need And honestly, for now, they're making things work on their own

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