This post is by Tjistke Dekker, an intern at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and president of the University of Washington Students for NARAL.
I personally have had nothing but positive experiences while accessing reproductive care for myself. The first time I sought birth control was when I was 17. I was in the first relationship of my life, and I had settled on Nuvaring. I was very fortunate to be aware of all my birth control options, and in many other ways as well. My insurance covered my birth control and my mom was supportive and drove me to the doctor herself.
I got involved with NARAL because as I became more aware of American politics, the endless attacks on women’s access to reproductive care made me angry. I am very aware of the ways in which I was fortunate, and the many barriers that exist for different women trying to access basic care. I personally would not feel safe if I did not have access to birth control and abortion, and I am particularly motivated by the disproportionate impact lack of access has on poor women, women of color, and other under-served groups. I chose NARAL because it addresses pro-choice issues in an inclusive way. NARAL isn’t just fighting for rich white women, but also acknowledges how poverty and workplace policies limit women’s reproductive freedom.
I am currently an intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and the president of the Students of NARAL club on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. In my time at NARAL, I have had the opportunity to learn community organizing skills and I’ve learned a great deal about the state of reproductive care across the country. I’ve learned about TRAP laws, emergency contraception laws in Washington, and different methods of birth control. One of the most important things I’ve learned from NARAL is the idea that an essential part of having a right is having the resources to be able to access that right. Women have a right to a safe abortion, but legal limits and poverty can stand in their way. I love how NARAL frames reproductive choice in a way that empowers women.
One of my favorite things to do for NARAL is tabling, which involves having a table set up on campus and collecting signatures for a petition or initiative. Meeting new people who support NARAL’s cause is always exciting. Although I table on campus, I end up talking to people of all ages. It’s a pleasure to connect and realize how many diverse Americans support the pro-choice cause. Tabling is also very satisfying because at the end of the day, you can count how many signatures you’ve gathered, which always gives me a sense of accomplishment. I enjoy doing work that connects to an important cause.
I think I’ve definitely grown from my experience with NARAL. I’ve gained a better understanding of how seemingly different political issues all work together to influence a woman’s ability to enjoy reproductive choice. I’ve also met many fun and enthusiastic people who share my pro-choice values.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington inspires young people like Tjistke to get involved and help us spread the pro-choice message! If you’d like us continue to do the work we do, including our youth programs, please GiveBIG to the NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Foundation today.