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Beyoncé said “a diva is a female version of a hustler” and that’s just what people call Kenya Martin, The Abortion Diva.
She takes every opportunity to share her abortion story and encourages others to do the same.
“I am super unapologetic and empowered that I had a choice and I celebrate that I was able to access abortion and what it did for my life,” said Martin.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, people across the country have felt comfortable and confident in sharing their abortion stories. Guttmacher reports that 1 in 4 cisgender women have had an abortion, this is a reminder that abortions are normal, common and are health care.
Reckon spoke with Martin about her abortion stories and experiences through her reproductive health care journey:
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you tell me about the first time you had an abortion?
I had my first abortion when I was 19 in college at Texas Southern University. While I was getting my education, I was having sex like most college students.
I soon found a guy that I had a huge crush on, and I just knew he was going to be my boyfriend.
I remember when I slept with him we didn’t use protection and after we finished I said, “I can’t believe we did not protect ourselves and did not use condoms.”
At that moment I felt like I was already pregnant and 30 days later I found out I was and that my crush had a girlfriend. When I told him about my pregnancy, he wanted me to have an abortion and I was like, “Cool because I want one, too.”
My mom found the abortion clinic in Houston and I did the deed. Back then if you didn’t want to be pregnant that’s what you did and you didn’t talk about it.
How did you get into abortion counseling and storytelling?
In 2015, I got pregnant again and I went to my trusty abortion clinic. While I was in the waiting room, I felt sick and I was in a lot of pain. I walked over to the receptionist’s desk and let them know that something was wrong.
They did an ultrasound and didn’t see a pregnancy in the uterus but they saw fluid. So they gave me a pregnancy test and it came back positive.
There was a Black nurse at the clinic that day who kept giving me constant reassurance.
After some tests, she said, “You may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and it could rupture one of your fallopian tubes.” She told me to get to the emergency room ASAP. I was looking at this Black woman that I didn’t know, but I trusted her and I felt comforted.
When I got to the emergency room they performed an ultrasound, confirmed what the clinic saw and rushed me into surgery.
Not long after, I wanted to start working for the same abortion clinic because I felt like I was supposed to be there and when I went back I saw the same Black nurse.
I immediately got emotional; she did too. We ran to each other in a deep embrace and I told her, “I am so glad you were there that day. I can’t imagine if that was a white nurse.”
I wanted to be at an abortion clinic so I could be there for somebody like that nurse who was there for me. I wanted to deliver the same kind of compassionate care. I started at the clinic as an abortion counselor. I was the person patients would see when deciding if they wanted to have an abortion.
During that time, I felt like I needed to be transparent and share my experience with these patients. I wanted them to know that I also sat in that seat and made the decision to have an abortion.
I especially want Black women to hear me share my story so they feel empowered to share theirs and hopefully we can normalize doing what’s best for us.