Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

“Arkansas Essentially Made Abortion Illegal”: An Interview with an Abortion Nurse

Left Voice spoke with Angelique Miste Saavedra, a reproductive justice activist who worked for over two years as a nurse at an abortion clinic.

Facebook Twitter Share
Getty Images, image from Teen Vogue

Left Voice spoke to Angelique Miste Saavedra, a reproductive justice activist and nurse practitioner in New York. She worked for over two years as a nurse at an abortion clinic. We spoke with her about the draconian anti-abortion law passed in Arkansas.

What is the new law in Arkansas about? 

This is one of the most restrictive abortion laws ever to be conceived. It’s basically an abortion ban; Arkansas essentially made abortion illegal. It doesn’t allow people with uteruses to have abortions even in cases of rape and incest, which is inhumane and cruel to force more trauma on these individuals. It only has an exception for the life of the person carrying the fetus. Providers who break the law will be fined up to $100,000 and spend up to 10 years in prison. It will go into effect this summer if it is not stopped by the courts first. 

Why is this happening now? 

Over the past decades, there have been a series of new laws that infringe on the right to an abortion, although this one is the worst and most draconian. Anti-abortion advocates are getting more bold. 

With the new Supreme Court justice in place, conservatives and anti-abortion people are testing the waters to see how far they can take it. The governor of Arkansas said as much. In a release from his office, Asa Hutchinson said, “(The ban) is in contradiction of binding precedents of the US Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law.” It’s paving the way for more states to challenge and try to restrict the laws.

And of course, the goal is to try to overturn Roe v. Wade. In states like New York, we have our own protections to keep abortion legal. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we’ll have access to abortion here. But in many states, they will get rid of the right to an abortion. And this is an important class issue. Wealthy people will take an airplane elsewhere. But folks who don’t have the means to travel are going to be forced to give birth, or maybe have illegal and unsafe abortions and it’s really fucked up. 

ACLU and Planned Parenthood are going to challenge this. This will be decided in the courts and so far some of the most all-encompassing abortion bans have been stopped by the courts, like the South Carolina ban. But we shouldn’t just trust the courts — this just shifts the bar further to the right on this very basic right. And the past decades have seen a slew of restrictions pass. The bar just keeps getting lower.

What are the consequences of this kind of law? 

Trauma. 

 I’ve seen firsthand patients coming in who have traveled very far to get an abortion from another state. They were either not in the right place in their life to become a parent or they were migrating to the US and were raped multiple times on their way here. They sobbed with relief when they were able to get an abortion because they were no longer pregnant with the rapist’s fetus. 

It was overwhelming to see the struggles as an abortion nurse, of patients coming in from other states or recently arrived from another country. They have to find childcare, to get on an airplane or pay a bus fee and a hotel stay. Abortion should be a right anyone can access for free, but it becomes a class issue. These are real barriers for folks trying to obtain an abortion. Not being able to access an abortion nearby is especially traumatic for people who have been raped or people who experienced some kind of trauma. It was hard to witness that as an abortion nurse. I have countless stories of people who have gone through so much to receive this basic healthcare right. 

And these kinds of laws delay things. Abortion is extremely safe. It’s safer than childbirth. But it’s safe if it’s done legally, by a medical professional. 

What these abortion restrictions do is delay access to abortion which means, for example, instead of someone having a 5-minute aspiration abortion procedure at 6 weeks they might have a lengthier abortion procedure at 18 or 24 weeks because they need to save money for traveling out of state, obtaining funding for hotel accommodations, and finding childcare.  Abortion is still safer than childbirth if done legally by a trained medical professional. But as the weeks progress, the abortion procedure becomes longer, carries more risk (as with any medical procedure there are always risks), and is more expensive than, say,  an abortion at 12 weeks.

What can be done about it?

Supporting abortion funds is a starting point because it’s crucial to get folks the money they need for an abortion.They raise money for people to have funding to get the abortion or find childcare and a place to stay. 

This is a big thing to fight against: the conservatives who call themselves “pro-life”. They are anti-abortion. They have. a lot of power and we need more organizing. Storytelling and story sharing is important so people can talk about their experiences. It’s a central component to de-stigmatizing abortion. 

I have shared my stories, written articles and spoken a lot about my experiences. When I was 20, I had a daughter , and I made an adoption plan for her. It means I signed my parental rights away at the age of 20 and my daughter has adoptive parents. I still communicate with her, but it was one of the most traumatic things in my life to be separated from my daughter. People who say that adoption is an alternative to abortion—they are full of shit. I also had an abortion and it was way less traumatic than the adoption experience. 

I also think we can point to the recent example in Argentina, where the feminist movement put up a huge fight to legalize abortion. The thousands of people in the streets forced the government to concede despite the power of the Catholic Church. It’s inspiring and it’s an example to all of us here. Free, safe and legal abortion on demand and without apology. We’ll need to build a movement because the politicians won’t give us anything if we don’t fight for it.

Facebook Twitter Share

United States

Liberal Towns in New Jersey Are Increasing Attacks on Pro-Palestine Activists

A group of neighbors in South Orange and Maplewood have become a reference point for pro-Palestine organizing in New Jersey suburbs. Now these liberal towns are upping repression against the local activists.

Samuel Karlin

April 12, 2024

“We Shouldn’t Let this Stop Us”: Suspended Columbia Student Activist Speaks Out

Aidan Parisi, a student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, was recently suspended and has been threatened with eviction from their graduate student housing for pro-Palestinian activism on campus. Aidan talked to Left Voice about the state of repression, the movement at Columbia, and the path forward for uniting the student movement with the labor movement and other movements against oppression.

Left Voice

April 11, 2024

The Movement for Palestine Needs Independent, Working-Class Politics

As the brutal genocide of Palestinians continues with the help of the Biden administration, there is maneuver underway to co-opt the movement for Palestine. We need to have a democratic and independent movement that relies on the power of the working class, the student movement, and mobilizations in the streets.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

April 7, 2024
A hand holds a phone which displays the TikTok Logo

We Don’t Want TikTok Under Control of U.S. Capitalists — Put It Under the Control of its Workers and Users

The U.S. government wants to force the sale of the incredibly popular Chinese social media app. A TikTok owned by U.S. capitalists will only make things worse. We want TikTok under workers' control!

Nathaniel Flakin

April 6, 2024

MOST RECENT

U.S. Imperialism is Pushing Tensions in the Middle East to a Boiling Point

U.S. Imperialism's support for Israel is driving the tensions behind Iran's attack and the escalations in the Middle East. It is all the more urgent for the working class to unite with the movement for Palestine against imperialism and chart a way out of the crisis in the region.

Samuel Karlin

April 15, 2024

Thousands of Police Deployed to Shut Down Congress on Palestine in Berlin

This weekend, a Palestine Congress was supposed to take place in the German capital. But 2,500 police were mobilized and shut down the event before the first speech could be held. Multiple Jewish comrades were arrested.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 12, 2024

Fired by a German University for Solidarity with Palestine — Interview with Nancy Fraser

The University of Cologne canceled a guest professorship with the philosophy professor from The New School. In this interview, she speaks about Germany dividing between "Good Jews" and "Bad Jews," her politicization in the civil rights movement, and her time in an Israeli kibbutz.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 10, 2024

Pro-Palestine Activists in France Get Summons from Anti-Terrorist Police

As part of a repressive campaign against the movement for Palestine in France activists have gotten summons from “anti-terrorist” police. The movement for Palestine in the United States must oppose all repression of our movement here and in Europe.

Samuel Karlin

April 9, 2024