Emerging Archive Preserves the Stories of Abortion Care in Louisiana

By Elizabeth Gelvin

The Louisiana Abortion Stories Project is the New Orleans Abortion Fund’s archive of oral histories of folks who have accessed abortion care in Louisiana. Established in 2012, the New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF) provides financial assistance for abortion and advocates for reproductive rights. Since its inception, NOAF has provided funds for over 1,100 women seeking abortion care and trained over 250 clinic escorts.

The New Orleans Abortion Fund was started by co-founders Amy Irvin and Jessie Nieblas in the spring of 2012.

The New Orleans Abortion Fund was started by co-founders Amy Irvin and Jessie Nieblas in the spring of 2012.

While abortion story archives exist, there are none that focus explicitly on Louisiana’s history of restricted abortion access. Louisiana has only three clinics across its sixty-four parishes, and twelve of the possible nationwide thirteen abortion restrictions (including a fifteen-week ban signed into law in May 2018). Louisiana is also one of four states with a “trigger law” that would instantly ban abortion in the event of a Roe reversal.

The Louisiana Abortion Stories Project addresses abortion stigma at the individual and community levels through recording first-person narratives. The project explores decision-making about abortion care; experiences with sex education; and the impact of community values on reproductive health, faith, education, and bodily autonomy; and social, logistical, and financial barriers in accessing abortion care. 

The oral history interview process itself is a space for people to share their truths and have their stories respected, affirmed, and preserved with dignity. Through the hour-long process of talking through their life experiences and perspectives, the interviewees are offered space to reflect on the impact of lifelong exposure to cultural values, material conditions, and interpersonal relationships that impacted their abortion experiences. 

To hear parts of the stories, listeners can tune into the New Orleans Abortion Fund’s weekly repro rights radio show, ProFrequency, on WHIV FM New Orleans 102.3Sundays at 3PM CT. As the project grows, the stories will be hosted and accessible online.

If you or someone you know has accessed abortion care in Louisiana; has had to travel outside of Louisiana for abortion care while living in the state; or has been an abortion provider in Louisiana, please contact Elizabeth Gelvin at outloud@neworleansabortionfund.org for more information or to have your story recorded. 

Elizabeth Gelvin

Elizabeth Gelvin is an oral historian, researcher, and organizer from Louisiana. She works to affirm the dignity of people who use drugs with Trystereo/New Orleans Harm Reduction Network; preserves abortion stories with the New Orleans Abortion Fund; organizes disaster response with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief; and cleans houses with her buddies. She believes another world is possible; she catches glimpses of it every day. You can e-mail her or shoot her a Facebook message, but don’t make it weird. Elizabeth wrote this piece for Groundswell as part of the organization's Labor Equity Option.