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Delay, Fear And Uncertainty: How The Pandemic Changed Access To Reproductive Health

Claire Bangser
Pearl Ricks, Executive Director of the Reproductive Justice Action Collective (REJAC) shows the contents of a package that the collective distributes to anyone seeking information or resources. June 8, 2020.

Lara arrived at the Hope Medical Group for Women abortion clinic on Saturday, April 11, pregnant for the first time at 20 years old. She’d found out at 4 a.m. the Wednesday before, after peeing on a home pregnancy test and watching it instantly come up positive.

“I think the first stage was more so panic, like, I've never been pregnant before,” she said.

At that point, Lara, a college student in northern Louisiana for whom we’re using a pseudonym, had no idea where she could go to get an abortion.

“I remember getting a few pregnancy scares and looking it up, but I never dug deep enough to actually find a place in Shreveport,” she said. “I had always thought that the options were in Texas, like Tyler or Dallas.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards had shut down much of Louisiana three weeks before amidst the onslaught of the pandemic, and though she’d grown up in Shreveport, Lara didn’t know it was home to one of the longest-running and last remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana. Nor did she know that it, like the other two clinics in the state, remained open. She didn’t even know if an abortion would be possible.

She had spent the early morning hours on Wednesday searching online with her roommate for clinics in Texas, but Googling eventually led them back to Shreveport, where Hope has been providing abortions since 1980.

She called the minute they opened and was told appointments would be three weeks away.

Read the full story at Crescent To Capitol.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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