Today, we welcome Garnet Henderson to the blog to talk about ACCESS—a podcast about abortion. It pulls back the curtain, demystifying abortion by bringing you real, first person stories, and expert perspectives. Read a post from Garnet below.
I had big plans for ACCESS before the pandemic started: I was going to travel the country, bringing listeners inside abortion clinics, immersing them in the wildly different realities of abortion access in different states. But in the spring, as I prepared to kick off a campaign to fund my first season, it became clear that walking into abortion clinics with a microphone wasn’t going to be an option for a long time. At the moment, people having abortions aren’t even allowed to bring companions with them due to COVID safety precautions.
However, my original plan for the podcast crumbled, and telling these stories became more important to me than ever before. The pandemic quickly grew into one of the greatest threats to abortion access since Roe v. Wade. Even worse, stories about abortion were getting lost in the frenzied news cycle. So I worked out a plan to record remotely, and got started. My goal for the show was always to demystify abortion through personal stories and expert perspectives, with each episode tackling a different topic. That’s still the general format of the show, but nearly every episode deals with the pandemic in some way, because its effects have been that far-reaching.
Back in the spring, governors in states that were already hostile to abortion access used their executive power to try and force abortion clinics to close. For example, in March, the governor of Texas issued an executive order banning virtually all abortions. The ensuing legal battle led to a confusing back-and-forth. One abortion provider told me his clinic opened and closed a total of eight times during that period. One of his patients had to come into the clinic five times just to get her abortion.
More people are also turning toward a practice called self-managed abortion. This is when people end their own pregnancies at home, usually using the same pills they’d get at a clinic. Medically, this is quite safe, but legally, it can be risky. In the United States, at least 21 people have been prosecuted on charges related to self-managed abortion.
Harassment and protests at abortion clinics have also intensified this year. I spoke with abortion clinic escorts and administrators from across the country, all of whom told me that the protesters at their clinics aren’t wearing masks or physically distancing. In Charlotte, North Carolina, hundreds of anti-abortion protesters recently gathered for an annual march despite a ban on large gatherings. In Michigan, anti-abortion activists blockaded a clinic, preventing people from entering or leaving for more than an hour.
Being able—or unable—to access an abortion is life-altering. And abortion is not a fringe issue, though it’s often treated as such in the media: one in four women will have an abortion during her lifetime, and trans men and nonbinary people have abortions, too. You certainly know someone who’s had an abortion, and you may even know someone who’s had an abortion during this pandemic. I’m proud to help people tell these stories.
Thank you, Garnet! Check out the podcast on Apple, Spotify, and Simplecast. You can find out more about the show at www.apodcastaboutabortion.com, on Instagram, and follow the pod on Twitter at @ACCESSpod.