These Photos Show The Reality Of Abortions

And once women arrive at the clinic, they’re walking a gauntlet to enter, there are folks yelling and screaming and telling women they are murderers, chanting things like, “Your baby has a name!” The anti-abortion protesters are incredibly aggressive. The clinics regularly have to get restraining orders, hire security, have volunteer escorts to help women get inside, etc. At the clinic in Montgomery, the volunteers even have to cover all the license plates in the parking lot with Post-it Notes because the anti-abortion protesters will literally photograph their license plates, try and find the names of the owners, and post them online.

There are also fake abortion clinics — directly next to the actual clinic, there will be another clinic, or RV, or office that looks almost like an abortion clinic, but is run by people whose goal is to convince the woman to keep the baby. They’ll show the woman her ultrasound and talk about the baby, and their ideas about life beginning at conception. It’s incredibly manipulative and preys on women who are scared, confused, or maybe even just accidentally went into Door B instead of Door A.

What was it like getting access to visuals to show people the process? Especially the images you took with Imani.

This young woman came from Texas to California to get an abortion. A lot of states during the early days of COVID used the pandemic as an excuse to introduce further abortion restrictions. Texas passed legislation that called abortions an elective procedure, which wasn’t allowed during early in the pandemic, and so they effectively outlawed it for a while. But this isn’t knee surgery or a nose job — it’s a very time-sensitive process. I worked closely with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles to identify someone who was traveling from out of state to get an abortion. PPLA has always served a client base from a huge geographic area, and that’s only growing. They notified me when they thought that someone might be open to being photographed. A few people fell through. It’s a really hard moment when a woman decides to have an abortion, and then a whole other layer of stress to have a journalist who wants to follow you through the process. It’s a huge ask. Eventually they found someone who seemed open to this, and PPLA made sure she understood the process and that it was voluntary.

For this woman, traveling for an abortion was difficult for her financially — she was young, 22. The person who was sort of her boyfriend was paying for the abortion itself, but it was a complicated relationship. Her family were immigrants from a conservative country and did not approve of abortions, and the immigrant community she lived in was very small and tight-knit, and she was worried about them finding out. She had friends in Los Angeles, so she scheduled the abortion at PPLA. She really had to trust me not to out her in some way, and to let me accompany her during this whole process.

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