By Isabela Gamez
Recent changes in abortion laws in Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio and elsewhere in the United States have stirred emotions and an increase in teen activism around reproductive health care.
“The idea of Roe v. Wade being repealed just scared me so bad…the idea of women not having full control over their bodies,” said Pilar Edilia, an incoming senior at Tucson High Magnet School.
She decided to make her voice heard. Drawing from the days when abortion was illegal and some women inserted coat hangers in their vaginas to induce a miscarriage, Edilia said, she knew she wanted to use a coat hanger symbol and wanted a way to raise money.
She met up with a group of friends to make coat hanger earrings out of paper clips, selling them at Tucson High for $5 a pair. Edilia raised $200 in just four days and donated the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
“I wanted a way for kids who can’t vote to be able to have a voice and get involved,” Edilla said.
Eliana Fife, another incoming senior at Tucson High, is friends with Edilia and heard about the earrings. She bought a pair, donating $5 to Planned Parenthood.
“It’s really important that women have a voice and a choice when it comes to their body,” Fife said. “Men in power shouldn’t have a say when it comes to women’s bodies because they can’t ever fully understand.”
Fife took part in the local women’s march on Jan. 20. She said she thought it was an amazing experience and she enjoyed “everyone coming together and supporting diversity, equality, and equity in our society.”
Equity is an issue in the abortion arena. Not everyone has access to abortion in Arizona.
Planned Parenthood Tucson was one of several clinics that lost its label as a Title X clinic when President Trump signed legislation.. Title X is a federally funded family planning program allowing low-income men and women to receive birth control, cervical cancer screening and other services at no or low cost. Without this, many low-income people are not able to get access to the health care they need.
Planned Parenthood is the only clinic in Tucson where someone can get an abortion up to 15 weeks in their pregnancy.
“It’s very demeaning for the person who wants to receive health care” to be excluded because of their economic status, marital status or other reasons, said Génesis Cubillas, Raíz organizer for Planned Parenthood.
In addition to the federal funding challenges, the state of Arizona requires a long list of steps be taken before someone is able to get an abortion. First, by law, the person has to wait 24 hours, get a sonogram and fill out a questionnaire with invasive questions.
According to KGUN 9, Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed a bill mandating that doctors are required to ask the particular reason a person is getting the abortion.
While some might think young women are not appreciative of the struggles women had before Roe v. Wade, many teens like Edilia and Fife are concerned in becoming involved.
“I feel that teens really have a better perspective on being their authentic selves and letting other people be their authentic selves and having a right to their body, a right to their identity, wanting to save the planet,” Cubillas said.
Emily Morel, a senior at University High School and a paid intern at the El Rio Community Health Center, teaches sex education to teens and takes part in the Regional Health Access Project, a grant-funded project that provides teens with accessible health care.
At the clinic teens can attend a sex education session, followed by access to free, confidential birth control, including IUDs and other contraceptive options.
Teens can find out about the El Rio services at tables set up at community events and through social media like Instagram.
Morel said she’s learned a great deal from her health care activism.
“It helped me learn to be more outspoken. It taught me to be a better sex ed teacher, and to always show up to something,” she said.
Also, she said, “Even though I’m not the most privileged person I still have privilege in my voice and that really stuck with me.”
According to CNN, lawmakers in Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, and Ohio have passed fetal heartbeat bills, which forbid abortion after a heartbeat is detected.
As many as ten more states are considering similar legislation.
I wrote this piece because I know that abortion is a very controversial issue and I think teens should know that there’s always something they can do to have an impacted and that their voices can be heard.
I hope from reading this people will feel more knowledgable about how the community would be impacted by an overturn on Roe v. Wade. Those of low-income would be most impacted because they would lose access to health care. Also, I think it’s good for the community to know that teens are stepping up and becoming involved.
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