“I am an abortion nurse and I know that ICE is an enemy of reproductive rights”

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The following is a speech by Angelique Saavedra, an abortion provider in New York City. She spoke at the “No Bans, No Borders” rally in New York City for immigrant rights and reproductive rights.

I’m Angelique, an abortion provider from El Paso, Texas. I currently provide abortions in New York City and work with a large immigrant community from around the world.

I have worked with countless immigrants seeking abortion care. It shouldn’t matter why they need an abortion, abortion is medical care. But it is worth mentioning that many of them are already parents trying to support the children they have in a patriarchal capitalist system that does not provide adequate conditions for people, especially black and brown workers, to be parents.

I remember a mother was trying to escape from an abusive and violent partner, so she came to me for an abortion. I have seen firsthand how abortion is life-saving health care.

Just last week, after Roe was overturned, I had a tearful patient in my office who thought she was going to be criminalized for having an abortion in New York. But this is already a devastating reality for those who live in states with activation laws like Oklahoma.

As an abortion nurse, I know that ICE stands in the way of reproductive rights. Borders, border controls and jail immigration policies make it even more difficult for undocumented immigrants to access safe abortions. But ICE doesn’t just interfere with access to abortion. They interfere with the right to parenthood. Remember in 2018 when a mother from Honduras was breastfeeding her daughter in an ICE detention center in McAllen Texas when she was forcibly separated from her son? How many more stories are there of that kind of separation? And today, the Biden administration continues to detain migrant children for days, weeks, or months at a time.

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Immigrant communities must be allowed to raise their children with the support and resources they need, without separating them from their children. This is an act of violence.

Many well-meaning abortion rights activists say abortion pills will save us. But what about the undocumented teenager who traveled from the South only to arrive in New York when she was 20 weeks pregnant? Abortion pills won’t save her. What about immigrant communities that don’t speak English or have limited access to the Internet and computers? Everyone who can get pregnant should have free access to abortion pills, but I can see how sadly many won’t have the same access as wealthy white cis women. That is why our goal must be a federal law for free, legal, safe and accessible abortion for anyone who needs it.

As a healthcare worker, I am excited to see Amazon and Starbucks workers unionize. Health care workers, who have been working with minimal equipment and minimal resources during the Covid-19 pandemic, will soon be overwhelmed with patients seeking out-of-state abortion care. This is unacceptable. Health care workers must unite to demand safe working conditions so they can be prepared for the inevitable increase in patients seeking out-of-state abortion services. We must also unite to fight for abortion rights across the country.

Reproductive justice and access to legal, safe and free abortion is an international struggle, and we need to learn from the feminist movement in Latin America. In Argentina, thousands of people in the streets forced the government to give in despite the power of the Catholic Church. It is inspiring and it is an example for all of us here.

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Free, safe and legal abortion on demand and without apology. We will need to build a movement because politicians will only ask for donations. but they won’t give us anything if we don’t fight for it.