The titles and roles of activists may differ, but a good activist can be spotted by their passion and dedication to their work. Most of us choose our paths of activism based on the impact we want to have or life sort of decides for us by placing us in social locations where the only path that makes sense is one of resistance. High levels of recognition are typically reserved for a few select folks. This blog series is not a remedy to this situation, but rather designed to highlight activists and their justice work through brief interviews. This installment is an interview with Ke’asia Brown, Youth Advocacy Fellow with Jane’s Due Process. Responses were provided during a call, and this transcription was reviewed and approved by the interviewee prior to publication.
Can you explain what Jane’s Due Process does and how you got involved with them?
Jane’s Due Process is a legal services organization that is an important part of the abortion fund network in Texas. They provide one-on-one case management, offer free legal assistance for judicial bypasses, and operate a 24/7 hotline to ensure that young people in Texas and elsewhere are able to confidently access birth control and abortion care despite the many restrictions currently in place.
I got involved in Jane’s Due Process when I was a 16-year-old girl in 10th grade working at McDonald’s knowing I couldn’t possibly provide for a baby. I was young, but I have always been straightforward, strong-minded and independent, so I automatically knew I wanted an abortion no matter who did or didn’t support me because as a woman, I have and had that right. I remember running to Google and typing in “free abortions,” and luckily, Jane’s Due Process popped up. I called them and got in contact with who became my caseworker, Irma, who was also the one who encouraged me to become a Jane’s Due Process advocate.
What do Jane’s Due Process advocates do?
We stand up for abortion by telling our stories about our abortions. We stand up for women’s rights and we let people around the world know that it is okay if you want to have an abortion.
What is it like for Texas youth to access abortions right now?
Due to SB8, Texas’ 6-week abortion ban, it is very hard. [Getting an abortion] normally takes 6 weeks and due to it being two different appointments you have to attend; it makes it much harder for teens in Texas. Young people have been impacted by SB8 and all abortion restrictions for a long time now. Most young people do not have the means to leave the state if they are more than six weeks pregnant, so it makes accessing care even harder than it already was. That’s why it is so important that young people are not only part of the current conversation around abortion access, but that we are trusted to make our own decisions.
Why is abortion storytelling so important?
I share my abortion story because I want to normalize the experience of having an abortion and for other young people who may feel like they are forced to make a decision that is not their own. We deserve to be trusted to make our own decisions about our sexual and reproductive health, and we deserve to be celebrated for doing what’s best for ourselves, despite the many obstacles we face.
What is your advice for other youth wanting to get involved in supporting abortion access, especially in Texas?
Honestly, I just say go forward. You have to sometimes overlook the racist, sexist, and ignorant comments you’ll get. Half of them are not even affected by these abortion restrictions, so they need to learn how to stay out of the business of people with uteruses.
How does being a Jane’s Due Process Youth Advocacy Fellow fit into your life goals?
I went through it as a young, broke 16-year-old girl. I would love to move up the ladder and become a bigger advocate for Jane’s Due Process. Abortion storytelling is such a unique thing to do and to be part of. My life goal is to keep being a voice for the youth who did or do not have the courage to speak up yet.
What does reproductive justice mean to you?
Reproductive justice is a framework that combines reproductive freedom with social justice. Reproductive justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, to have children or not have children, and to parent their children in safe communities. I feel like young people, especially Black women, need people to stand up and be a voice, assuring them that it is ok to make their own decisions about their own body, especially when something can impact their life later on. And since I have no fear of standing up for what I believe in, I want to encourage others to stand up too.
Ke’asia Brown is a Jane’s Due Process Youth Advocacy Fellow and former Jane’s Due Process client. Since navigating the legal system as a teen seeking abortion care, she has become passionate about fighting for the reproductive rights of all young people in Texas. She is currently studying criminal justice and seeks to use her activism to fight for the full range of reproductive and racial justice. Learn more at https://janesdueprocess.org