California Youth Voices On Expanding Abortion Access Through AB 154

Thursday, August 08, 2013

By Mika Hernandez

(This post was created as part of  Forward Together's campaign to support California's Reproductive Justice Bill AB154 as well as the 4th Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice)

Two days ago as I sat at my desk wondering where to begin on this piece, one of the youth that I am working with this summer wandered into my office. She peeked a mischievous eye from behind the door frame, attempting to surprise me. I turned around, catching her off guard, she laughed. Looking back at the glowing screen tabs of blog posts from other young folks about abortion access stared back at me. All those youth voice were calling out to me through the glow of my computer screen.

“What are you doingggg?” my youth participant said as her eyes skimmed the title of the blog post I was in the middle of reading.

“Trying to write about AB154 - remember when we talked about that the other day?”


Here it was, the chance to get a true, in depth, hard hitting look at a youth perspective on abortion access. I swiveled my computer chair around.

“What do you think of it? And like, abortion access for young people in general?”

“I dunno, I mean... Everyone should have resources to do what is best for them. That’s it.”

It struck me. Was the answer really so simple. Everyone should have resources for them, for their needs, for their life.

As I approached writing my blog, I was struggling with the idea of making some large grand statement about a singular youth perspective on abortion. In thinking this way, I was failing to grasp the idea that resource expansion. when it comes to abortion care, is not a solid win/lose situation for all people no matter the demographic. It's not an absolute. Because people are diverse, with diverse  needs, diverse experiences, and diverse opinions.

What this young person was pointing out to me was so simple, and yet so easily overlooked. In a lot of mainstream discourse around abortion; expanding the way that people can receive abortion care is a win when it acknowledges the experiences and needs of individuals and lets them be heard, respected, and supported.

The youth I am working with this summer, each having their varied stances on abortion, have been teaching a valuable lesson to me in the past couple days. A youth voice in the discussion about abortion access is important, yes, but cannot be generalized into one solid whole. There are many youth voices, with many opinions. Instead of grasping for a soundbite on the one and only youth perspective we should focus on the varied and diverse ways that young people, that all people, have learned about abortion and come to form their opinions on access to it.

AB154 is an access expanding act that would allow nurse practitioners, midwives, and physicians assistants the ability (with proper training and certification) to provide abortion care. As I’ve journeyed through this writing process I have come to see AB154 as well as the conversations that young people are having around abortion as very meaningful ways to centralize the real experiences, tangible needs, and concrete thoughts that people as individuals have regarding abortion.

The experiences that all different people have with reproductive health are valid and important, and this is something that many young people seem to be bringing to the table when they talk about abortion access. Bills like AB154 introduce more resources to learn and talk about abortion. And when these bills are accompanied by dynamic conversations about peoples’ needs and experiences I believe they hold great potential for moving us toward reproductive freedom. I am hopeful that young people, teenagers especially, with their unique and varied perspectives can keep teaching this to the communities around them as the youth I work with have been able to teach me.

Note: Much of this article was inspired and informed by Taja Lindley’s blog post on Feministe.

Mika Hernandez is an intern at Forward Together this summer, aiding in particular with their Youth Organizing program. She comes to Forward Together from the Civic Liberties and Public Policy program (CLPP) at Hampshire College and is a representative of CLPP's Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps. Mika is excitedly approaching her final year at Hampshire College where she is pursuing studies in the social sciences with focuses on activism, community empowerment, and alternative histories.

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