After Learning She Was 8 Weeks Pregnant, This Texas Woman Had to Travel 1,500 Miles for an Abortion
Before Rebecca* learned she was eight weeks and one day pregnant, there were weeks when the thought hadn't even crossed her mind.
But in mid-September, after realizing she "wasn't feeling myself for a series of days," Rebecca decided to take an at-home pregnancy test "to get peace of mind."
"I wanted to rule that out and think it was maybe something else, just other environmental circumstantial things that I hadn't considered," she tells PEOPLE. "So I took the pregnancy test and was very surprised when it came back positive. It was not expected."
Rebecca immediately knew that an abortion was the best option, if she was truly pregnant — "given the nature of the relationship, the person that I got pregnant with, it was not ideal circumstances," she says. But just a few weeks earlier, Texas' highly restrictive law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy had gone into place.
Rebecca took the test over a weekend and had to wait until Monday to call Planned Parenthood to get an appointment for an ultrasound, which would say, definitively, if she was within the six weeks and able to get the procedure done in Texas.
"It was very stressful, and really scary," she says. "Even if I were five weeks pregnant, it depended on when I could get an appointment — you really have to be earlier along in pregnancy [to be within six weeks]. The chances of being four weeks pregnant or under were so slim, and there was nothing I could do but wait."
When she called that Monday, the next open appointment wasn't for another week, and "that was another week of just prolonging that anxiety and stress," she says. When Rebecca went to her appointment, she found out that she was eight weeks and a day pregnant, solidly outside of the legal limit.
"It was strange because at first it was a relief, having that information," she says. "At least I knew, 'Okay, we can rule out doing it locally under the six week timeframe.' But then I was like, 'All right, roll up your sleeves, now you got to do this. Now I know I have to create a game plan.' And that required traveling out of state."
"I was super nervous. The shock never wore off, like this is my life right now. Holy s---."
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Rebecca started by researching the abortion laws in nearby states like Oklahoma and Kansas, but quickly found that most required another ultrasound, and then a wait of 24 to 72 hours before one could undergo the procedure. Rebecca decided instead to fly 1,500 miles to a state without a waiting period, where she had friends she could rely on for support.
"It felt scarier to drive out to this random place [like Oklahoma or a closer state] to do this thing," she says. "Even though it was further, it made more sense to go where I had a connection and people there."
Rebecca recognizes that being able to do that is an "immense privilege" — "I have the luxury of time and a job that was understanding. That played a huge role in making this possible."
She was able to get a hotel voucher for her stay and a voucher from Planned Parenthood Texas to cover the cost of going to an out-of-state clinic, totaling around $600, but she still paid about $800 out of pocket. Once she was at the appointment, "it was pretty straightforward," she says, but immensely frustrating.
"This service should be something that I could have very easily gotten 10 miles away from home. But I had to instead travel 1,500 miles, and there's all the other stuff that comes with it — the fear, the anxiety, the relief, the anger. It was all of that, that was heavier than the appointment itself."
Once the abortion itself was done and she was back in Texas, "that's when it all hit me."
"I was like, 'Oh my God, that just happened. I just did that,' " she says. "This legislation is intended to be cruel by design, that you can't rid yourself of the guilt and shame and embarrassment of having to travel out of state for health care."
Rebecca is a born and raised Texan who lived in the state for most of her life, and used to "defend it so hard."
"I was like, 'Its politics are not its people. It's such a diverse place, it has such rich culture.' I was huge on representing it. And given the experience that I just had, I feel that the state has caused a lot of psychological harm. It's incredibly and unnecessarily traumatic."
And as the Supreme Court and local judges go back and forth trying to decide if the law is legal, Rebecca "wants lawmakers to realize that there are people caught up in this right now and it's going to have an irreversible impact in a lot of people's lives."
"I have the resources and ability to travel out of state to get an abortion, and a lot of people will not. A lot of people don't have the time to get on the phone and wait for a voucher," she says. "And while lawmakers are playing political ping pong, with this back and forth, people are caught up in it right now. And it's so unnecessary."
*Name has been changed for privacy.