Let me tell you about one of the bravest women I have ever met. I met Belinda three weeks ago when she called the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice for help the next week while she was a patient at Southwestern Women’s Options.Thanks to the National Network of Abortion Funds, she had pulled together enough money to pay for her abortion and a bus ticket from the Navajo nation to Albuquerque, NM. We made arrangements for a place to stay, meals and transportation.
It would be another two weeks before she made it to her appointment, once she could be certain that her children were safe while she was gone. That’s when she told me she needed an abortion because her step-brother had violently raped her and even though she had called the police, her family was protecting him!
“I used to pray every day, but I haven’t been able to pray since this happened,” she confessed.
If Rep. Akin and others like him have their way, Belinda would have been forced to birth and raise her rapist’s child, surrounded by judgement and shame, with no support.
From the donors to the volunteers to the All-Options Clergy Counselor who reminded Belinda that God had heard her–even when she didn’t know she was praying–we were able to provide the care Belinda needed, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Belinda had a community to support her, unconditionally. But next week, there will be other women, who will need just as much support. It might be a teenager, an undocumented immigrant, a disabled woman relying on Medicare.
Before she left for home, Belinda took several brochures. “I’m going to put these in every women’s restroom I can find,” she told me, “I know there’s lot’s of women on the Reservation that need to know about this.” Belinda will continue to need support, but thanks to our community, she is beginning to move from victim to not just survivor, but activist! Belinda will someday be the answer to another woman’s prayer.
–Joan Lamunyon Sanford
Executive Director, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice