Finding Abortion Care Is Even Harder Than It Seems

illustration of the earth on a purple background showing a dotted line that starts in Honduras with stopping points across the United States

Illustration by Shanthony Exum

Working as an artist during COVID-19 has been challenging. I was overwhelmed by anxiety during the first part of the pandemic, looking at a quickly changing world and a calendar of canceled tour dates as I struggled to understand a world that felt unfamiliar. The structures so many people came to depend on for their livelihoods and healthcare crumbled right before our eyes. Abortion access, which was already threadbare, was one of those crumbling structures. Many people don’t think about all that it takes to get an abortion until they or someone they love needs one. And then, they’re forced to navigate restrictive barriers—often alone because of the way our society treats people who want abortions. When We Testify asked me to participate in this project, I was so honored to facilitate this storyteller recounting her experience. It’s heartbreaking that she had to go through so much to obtain her abortion—across countries!

It saddens me that it’s still this difficult to obtain an abortion. Hopefully, through the sharing of this young woman’s story, others who are facing similar insurmountable feeling barriers will know they aren’t alone, can call on abortion funds for support, and can get the abortion they want. And I hope that others realize that we need to make a change because, as We Testify says, everyone loves someone who has had an abortion. As with all of my work, I hope this comic can help illuminate an issue that so many people face. My goal as an artist is to shine a light on issues that many of us experience but are too afraid to talk about while being inclusive and approachable. As a multidisciplinary artist, I’m using my work to celebrate those of us who are too often ostracized and minimized in our communities. In quarantine, I released a four-song EP (How It Is) and a body positive dance music video celebrating bellies of all sizes, which was completely shot in quarantine. I am really grateful to participate in projects like this; helping to facilitate telling people’s stories is a transformative experience that has helped me transition back into making art versus looking at the news in horror. My hope is that by telling all of our stories, we can use this moment to create the vision of the world we want now and on the other side of this pandemic. 

illustration of the earth on a purple background showing a dotted line that starts in Honduras with stopping points across the United States with the words “Abortion Across Borders: An Abortion Journey”
Illustration of hand pulling a curtain to reveal a PLAN B box. Text: One college summer while back in my home country of Honduras, I worried I could become pregnant, so I bought what I thought was Plan B on the blackmarket it’s banned. But it didn’t work.
Illustration of hands filled with pills. Text: I was pregnant, so I called an illegal abortion doctor in Honduras to try to get pills to do my own abortion. But I didn’t know how far along I was, so he couldn’t give them to me.
Illustration of a map showing a dotted line from Florida to Texas. Text: When I went back to the US, I had to transfer schools from Florida to Texas, all while pregnant.
Illustration of an open road, a time counter reading 00:00 and a sheet of paper reading “House Bill 2.” Text: I moved to Texas right after the now unconstitutional House Bill 2 became law. Many of the abortion clinics were forced to close.
Illustration of a brown woman covering her eyes, as white hands pray for her. Text: I ended up at a fake clinic where they told me abortion was dangerous and that it was too late for me to have an abortion because I was at 27 weeks. But I ignored them.
Illustration of a woman standing outside in front of a huge pile of money stacks at the border of Texas and New Mexico. Text: I found an abortion provider in New Mexico but it cost $12,000. I cried because I did not even have $1.
Illustration of a hand holding a phone filled with grid of envelope icons. Text: I emailed over 50 abortion funds and some were able to help me.
Illustration of a dark brown hand holding up a brown woman in a hospital gown. Other hands are outstretched towards her from below. Text: In 4 days they helped me raise $9,000 for my abortion, plus a flight, and a hotel for the four day procedure.
Illustration showing a closeup of a brown woman speaking. Text: I am thankful for my abortion. Now I share my story so hopefully no one else has to take the same journey I did.

A note from the storyteller: I am grateful to We Testify and Shanthony Exum for this opportunity to tell my story through a comic, with such beautiful imagery. The illustrations and story showed what is it was like trying to find abortion care, with so many confusing laws around the world and here in the United States. I would like for this comic to be shared widely so people all over can understand my story better and why I had an abortion. I want everyone who wants an abortion—especially Honduran women like me—to know that abortion is our right and we get to choose what we want for our bodies.

Shanthony Exum, a Black person with short, curly, blond hair, wears yellow heart-shaped glasses
by Shanthony Exum
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Shanthony Exum also known musically as Miss Eaves, is a Brooklyn based-multimedia artist who sits at the intersections of activism and art. With a passion for celebrating confident femmes and non binary folk, Exum creatively uses her art to advocate for feminist issues, sexual liberation, and self-love.