In November 2024, Jane’s Due Process hosted a transformative two-day youth retreat in El Paso, Texas. Our goal was to provide our fellows with a firsthand look at the landscape of abortion access in the region of West Texas and highlight the work that our partner organizations are doing there. During the retreat, our fellows had the opportunity to hear presentations from our partners, West Fund and Just The Pill. They also attended a community-building event hosted by Planned Parenthood and Frontera Folx where they were able to connect with local grassroots organizers and write letters to people in the Rio Grande Valley. It was empowering to see all the work that young people are doing in El Paso to continue the fight for reproductive justice. As we come into the 2024 year, our fellows are reflecting on their time in El Paso and sharing their experiences during the retreat.
Reflecting on my experience in El Paso with my fellow JDP youth fellows, it was more than a retreat; it was an invaluable opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded advocates, openly sharing abortion stories and experiences. It provided a safe space where we could come together and engage in unapologetic conversations about abortion and more. On the first day, we saw a presentation that shattered some of my preconceived notions about abortion access in West Texas. I thought being close to New Mexico might simplify things, but the reality is far from it. Despite the proximity to New Mexico, crossing state lines or even venturing to Mexico if possible for abortion care posed significant challenges due to the complexities introduced by state officials and border patrol.
It didn’t cross my mind the barriers West Texans have in place to prevent them from accessing the care they need. It was eye-opening to learn about the fear-mongering local officials/border patrol intentionally do to make sure that folks are too afraid to cross state lines or even go to Mexico if they can. These fear-mongering tactics make accessing care a daunting prospect, especially for the undocumented community. The constant threat of deportation, regardless of immigration status, paints a vivid picture of the challenges West Texans endure—living under the constant shadow of potential deportation, being jailed, and heavy surveillance.
But amid these revelations, we also took a breather to reconnect with nature. A nature walk and hike to the Aztec caves in El Paso provided a refreshing pause. This allowed us to soak in the beauty of a landscape that was once home to many Native Americans. It was a moment to appreciate nature’s bounty and reflect on the historical uses of plants for medicine, food, water, and even abortifacients.
I am immensely grateful to JDP and all the organizations working tirelessly to champion the rights of young people in the RJ movement. It’s a journey that has been both empowering and enlightening, and I look forward to the continued impact of JDP and organizations like it in the realm of reproductive justice.
The 2023 fellow retreat was short-lived for me, but also a great getaway. Being around my other fellowship friends is always a breath of fresh air from the real world. During my time there, I realized that rural Texans are not in this battle alone and that we all have each other
The trip was one of the best I had. To me, the landscape was breathtaking. Waking up was a whole unique experience in itself. The sunrise, the weather, love in the house, warmth, and more were things I would constantly like to keep experiencing in my life.
The Just The Pill presentation is one I don’t think I’ll forget. The dedication, visuals, and so much more were mesmerizing. I learned about how there are so many issues on the border that I was not aware of, which can include the environment in which they raise their kids. Writing letters to others with Frontera Folx was exciting, especially since we live in a world of technology where we can just send a text message in an instant. Learning about West Fund was fascinating. It’s always so nice and refreshing to learn about other funds or programs that are available for the youth.
Being in this program, I’ve been told I’ll be the next generation to help, so it’s always nice to know I’m not alone and that I have people like Ke’Asia, Serena, and others with me on this journey. It’s nice to know that I am not the youngest and that other young people are fighting the same cause I am. Some people want to help lead that group. Learning about how where you’re from can affect the way one accesses healthcare has opened my eyes to something I was not aware of before the retreat.