This blog post was written by Vanessa Shields, who is a member of the Gulf Coast chapter of NSSRH.
I have worked with New Orleans Abortion Fund as an intake volunteer and clinic escort since 2014. The mission of the abortion fund is simple, we provide funding for abortions. Many of us are also clinic escorts at our local abortion clinic where we ensure people visiting the clinic are able to enter the health care facility free from harassment. As a nurse, this volunteer work has enhanced my understanding of the struggles and barriers faced by members of my community to manage family planning and fertility, as well as the health and well-being of their families. My experiences working with the abortion fund have also made me more cognizant of state legislation around restricting access to reproductive health care, much of it scientifically inaccurate and lacking evidenced-based medical input. This is particularly relevant in the Deep South, where legislative efforts to chip away Roe v. Wade are a persistent threat. I am undoubtedly a better patient advocate, and more motivated social justice activist, because of my work with the abortion fund.
I was honored to be published, in the national LGBT publication, The Advocate, last month, on why supporting abortion access is part of my Pride month. Pride, for me, means being an ally for people who have had abortions — because Pride is about celebrating all the ways we live, love, and build our chosen families. Read The Advocate Article!
Vanessa lives in New Orleans, LA with her partner, two perpetually sleepy rescue dogs, and a sassy cat. She graduated from the accelerated BSN at Louisiana State University in 2017 and has a MA in International Politics from the University of Bradford, UK. Vanessa is a nurse for people living with HIV in New Orleans.