Michelle Colón is Living Through The Last Days of Legal Abortion in Mississippi

Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Hey y’all, it’s Brittany. I’m back, and I want to tell you a story. I was just shy of 23 weeks pregnant, laying in a hospital bed.  Just a few minutes before, I had helplessly cried as all of my amniotic fluid rushed out of me, putting my son, and potentially me, in severe danger. The maternal fetal medicine doctor came in and gave me my prognosis. She told me that because I hadn’t yet reached 24 weeks, I could, if I decided, have an abortion.

By now, most of you know the story of my son’s birth, coming earthside 16 weeks early and thankfully, successfully coming home after 116 days in the NICU.  Obviously, I chose to continue my pregnancy. But the latest, sadly expected, ruling of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and thereby all federal protections for abortion have me thinking even more precisely about my own journey to motherhood and just how enraged and terrified I am at the prospect of living in a world without options.

In the last 2 years, there are two times I could have needed an abortion.  In November 2020, I miscarried, actually while I was doing an interview for this show.  And had the fetal tissue not fully exited my body, I would have needed a procedure to do the rest, otherwise I could have died. I would have needed an abortion.

And December 2021, I had to weigh all of my options, all of the unknowns, and make a choice.  But you see….I had the choice.  And I mean, that’s the point, isn’t it? That I could exercise autonomy over my life, even and especially in the most dire and unknown circumstances. 

I chose to carry my pregnancy to as full term as it would go.  I had prayed for this baby. I had wished on every star and counted every sign.  But that’s because I was ready. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually.  Relationally. 

And I had to be ready. Because 8 days on hospitalized bed rest, an unscheduled C-section, a disintegrating fibroid and debilitating nerve pain in my recovery, and 116 days of going back and forth to the NICU every single day required more of me than I ever imagined.

So many choices were stripped from me in this process—where I would have the baby, how I would have the baby, when I would have the baby. But that choice remained. And what I know to be true is this: If I had a job that paid me low wages hourly, I would not have been able to visit the NICU literally every day to give my son the parent-to-child care the doctors insisted was his best chance for survival. If I didn’t have the financial ability to purchase and try three, three different breast pumps all because I had to jumpstart my breast milk production 4 months early to give my son the best nutrients and take him past 1 lbs 9oz he was born at. 

If I didn’t have a working car to take me to every doctor’s appointment and daily to the NICU. If English wasn’t my first language and I couldn’t properly advocate for him on that day fluid had gotten into his lungs. If I were disabled and medical professionals questioned my competency to parent my own child. If I didn’t have Cadillac health insurance to cover the nearly $1.5 million dollars it cost me and Baby M to have medical care during that time. If doctors had told me my own life or my ability to have more children would be jeopardized by going through with this pregnancy, my prospects, and Baby M’s prospects, would have been much more severe. 

I could  have needed an abortion. 

I’m back from my parental leave and thankfully Baby M is flourishing and thriving, learning how to laugh, and taking in the sights, sleeping more and cuddling us all the time.  But his mama? His mama is pissed.  Reproductive justice starts with access to safe, legal abortion, but it absolutely does not end there.  It is the end of racial and class disparities in birthing and life outcomes.  It’s ensuring that should one choose to have children, that they are raised in a world that encourages, stimulates and protects them.  It is ensuring that women and pregnant people like me have the choice and the access, whenever, wherever and why ever we may need it.

Without sovereignty over our own bodies, there is no freedom


On the show today, I’ll be talking to Michelle Colón of the organization SHERo. She’s a reproductive justice organizer who’s been in the fight for a long time. 

Michelle Colón: We will not be deterred. Abortion is liberation and the Supreme Court doesn’t decide what I do. My future is mine.

Brittany: That’s coming up, but first, it’s the news.

Well, this week, our news is extremely trending as much as we wish it weren’t. We’re, of course, talking about the Supreme Court’s decision to claw back a right that we’ve held dear for half a century. The right to bodily autonomy, the right to control your destiny, the right to a safe, legal abortion. To hear more about how a group of unelected judges could outlaw healthcare, that more than half the country thinks should remain legal, we turned to Rhiannon Hamam, a public defender in Texas and the cohost of the legal podcast Five-Four. 

Rhiannon: Which is the podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks. We do progressive and leftist critique of modern Supreme Court cases. 

Brittany: I wanted to talk to Rhiannon about what happened last week. I mean, it’s really been happening for the last 50 years.

We know the basics, the state of Mississippi passed an extreme abortion ban. The state’s only abortion clinic challenged the law. And instead of repealing Mississippi’s law, the Supreme Court,, or rather the Supreme Court’s six conservative judges, overturned Roe v. Wade, which has protected legal abortion since 1973. Nearly 50 years of constitutional freedom just gone. 

Rhiannon: This is a sort of rare occurrence by the Supreme Court to overturn its own ruling. There’s this idea called starry decisis, which is a Latin term, basically just meaning that the Supreme Court should usually respect its own precedent.

Brittany: The move reflects the degree and speed with which the Court is moving to the right. And it is fast y’all, that’s not to say the Court never reverses itself, but it usually does it in the other direction. 

Rhiannon: The Supreme Court overruling itself kind of is inverted here. Instead of creating more rights, expanding people’s equality, and access to justice; here, they’re taking away a right.

Brittany: The matter of whether or not abortion is still legal is now up to individual states. But in reality, that’s an incredibly complicated matter. 

Rhiannon: So if you’re looking at my state of Texas, Texas had a trigger law on the books saying that 30 days after the Supreme Court decision is finalized, all abortions will be banned in the state with no exceptions for rape or incest.

This is a really restrictive law, right? All abortions are banned, but right now we already have a law on the books that bans abortion at six weeks, as well as you know, this horrific bounty hunter law that empowers private citizens to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion. And then on top of that, we have laws that criminalize abortion providers and those laws are still on the books from before Roe v. Wade was decided. 

So how all of these laws interplay with each other is unclear right now. It’s a total legal nightmare and that’s not even touching on issues like miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies. You know, what really counts legally as an abortion in different states might be defined differently in different states.

These legal mazes make it extremely unclear in abortion-restrictive states, who is going to be liable and under which state laws. So most, if not all abortion funds and other reproductive justice organizations in Texas have stopped taking donations and they’ve stopped services because they need time to figure out like what kind of legal risks they can take.

And meanwhile, the whole time people who need abortion care are kind of stuck in the middle without clear guidance.

Brittany: Rhiannon says people should be cautious as they seek abortion care, use encrypted apps like Signal and delete the data from your period tracking apps. Don’t create a digital trail that an anti-abortion state could use in a case against you.

Rhiannon: It is wild for me and my colleagues to think about defending somebody in Court who has sought abortion care. If you can imagine police officers being present in hospital rooms to investigate what’s happening with this miscarriage. It invites basically the police surveillance systems, the state into even more of your life.

Brittany: Sadly, it gets worse when the Court makes a decision individual justices can file concurrences, briefs that they used to further explain why they agreed with the ruling. In Dobbs, conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, the guy we all love to hate. Anyway, he went way further than overturning Roe. 

Rhiannon: He would say that the 14th amendment, it doesn’t protect anything that isn’t explicitly named there.

And he says there are a few other cases that should be overturned, just like Roe. He says cases like Obergefell, which says that the constitution protects same sex marriage. Lawrence, which says that the constitution protects people’s privacy in having sex, how they choose. And another case called Griswold, which says the constitution protects people’s right to access contraception.

Justice Thomas says all of those cases should be overturned. 

Brittany: I’ll wait, cuz if you’re still booing Clarence Thomas that’s fair. But listen, basically his position is that if a right isn’t explicitly spelled out in a document that was written by a group of crotchety, rich, old, white enslavers before women could vote at a time when Black people were considered property and Indigenous People weren’t considered at all, if it’s not in there, then it just doesn’t exist. 

Rhiannon: The conservative justices, they know who their audience is. And so Justice Thomas is basically broadcasting. He’s basically saying, hey, conservative lawyers. Hey, conservative legal organizations. I am willing to overturn these decisions. Absolutely, these rights are threatened right now.

Brittany: So the message is out there. The Court is looking for more opportunities to take back our fundamental rights. And if anyone tells you otherwise like the folks who said Roe would never be overturned when the Court agreed to hear the Dobbs case, ignore them. Too much is at stake to pretend that this isn’t a threat. 

Rhiannon: Take in the case of Griswold, the case that says the constitution protects people’s right to contraception. We’ve seen already that the state of Louisiana is at least considering passing a law that would ban certain types of contraception. That law would be unconstitutional under the Court’s current precedent, under Griswold.

So if Louisiana passed that law that bans certain types of contraceptions, reproductive justice activists, they could sue, right, to say our right to contraception is protected. And so this law in Louisiana is unconstitutional, but as it makes its way to the Supreme Court, Griswold, the precedent would actually be threatened.

We know where Justice Thomas would be on that, but we don’t know a hundred percent where the other conservative justices would be

Brittany: If you need abortion care, which is your right as a human being, you can learn about the status of abortion rights in your state at ineedana.org. And if you’re within your first three months of a pregnancy, you can access medical abortion privately in your home by visiting plancpills.org. Self-managed abortion is safe. Your local abortion funds are also incredible places to connect with to get a hold of financial resources and practical support. Visit abortionfunds.org to find yours. But be careful as you’re searching. Abortion opponents will undoubtedly take advantage of a confusing moment to spread disinformation.

Rhiannon: A red flag is any website, any organization that sort of bills itself as a so-called crisis pregnancy counseling. Another red flag is when you’re researching or looking into abortion access online, you know, websites that use politically charged terms for what abortion is that should sort of tingle everybody’s spidey sense, kind of put you on alert.

So websites that call pregnant people mothers, that call fetuses babies. Those kinds of organizations are very likely not pro-choice and they are pushing to get misinformation about abortion out to people and pressuring them to carry their pregnancies to term. 

Brittany: No matter what conservatives might say, controlling what happens to your body is a human right. And it is on all of us to find ways to make that right accessible and to keep it safe.

Rhiannon: Everybody loves somebody who has had an abortion. Abortion has always existed and it will always exist. It is not going away because of this Supreme Court decision because it’s necessary. And because it’s a societal good. I’m a person who has had an abortion in the state of Texas.

This was obviously years ago before it was banned in my state. So I’m grateful for abortion providers. I’m grateful for people who shout their abortion, and I’m grateful that abortion was accessible to me when I needed it. 

Brittany: Rhiannon Hamam is a lawyer in Texas. You can hear her podcast Five-Four, wherever you listen. 

Coming up, I’ll be talking to Michelle Colón, a reproductive justice organizer on the ground in Mississippi, where she’s living through the last days of legal abortion. Right after this short break.

And we are back. My guest this week is an organizer, a freedom fighter, and like me, she is pissed off. Michelle Colón has worked in abortion access for years. She’s organized clinic defense of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic affectionately called the Pink House. The clinic is formally known as Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

And it’s the clinic in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade last week. Michelle is now the founder of SHERo, a grassroots organization that helps Black women, girls, and femmes become leaders in the fight for reproductive justice. We called her this week, four days after the Supreme Court ruling as her state prepares to end legal abortion for the first time in 50 years.

Michelle Michelle, Michelle. Woo. I wanna start with the most pressing news. What is the status of abortion in Mississippi? 

Michelle: Well, you know, currently we’ve got one clinic, uh, it’s been the only clinic for about 20 years or nearly 20 years now. So they are still, you know, providing exemplary abortion healthcare until, you know, the last day.

But it’s still bittersweet. The Pink House has been providing, you know, abortion healthcare in spite of anti-abortion terrorists, both, you know, local and abroad. In spite of not having the protection of local law enforcement. In spite of constantly being attacked by anti legislators and policy makers, you know, they have gone through it.

The Supreme Court has stripped us of a fundamental right. But we’re not, you know; we’re still champions, you know what I’m saying? So we’re not going out. Like they’re the white walkers and we are the five, six houses of “Game of Thrones.” And so eventually we will be victorious. 

Brittany: I fully believe that. And I know that that’s true, in part, because you’ve been preparing for this for some time. You know, I think people who haven’t been following the Court, they haven’t been paying close attention to these attacks year after year were shocked by Friday’s decision. I know that the providers at the Pink House are not shocked. I’m not shocked. I know you’re not shocked. How long have you been preparing for this outcome?

Michelle: We have been experiencing this for some time, since about 2004, 2005. When the clinic became the only provider in the state. And every year, the Mississippi anti-abortion legislatures have always introduced some type of abortion ban, whatever it was, you know? And so basically every year you’re kind of preparing for this, right?  But I think for me, the real nitty gritty, as my grandmother would say, came about in November of 2016, with the election of Donald Trump.

That’s when I knew, you know, when you had, you know, over 70 million people who voted for this man. And then you had millions of people who didn’t vote for Hillary. This gave him the opportunity, he and Mitch McConnell to, you know, run amok. 

So many people have called me and said, oh, well, everybody calls me by my last name: Colón, I didn’t think, and you know. And I wanna cuss them out. A couple of them I have cussed out, cause you know, they’re telling me like, oh, I didn’t know it was gonna, you know, I knew it was gonna be bad, but I just didn’t believe it. And I’m like, I don’t know what the fuck you telling me you didn’t believe it, like, do you think that we were just, you know, saying this for,  you know, laughs? 

That we were just doing this for attention? This was not a Chicken Little thing. This was not a, you know, oh, these women are crying wolf bullshit. This was real deal stuff. And so now that it is, it’s unfortunate for providers all over, it’s unfortunate for their staff, and it’s unfortunate for the pregnant people who need abortion access.

But a part of me is like, you know what, you never talked openly about abortion and, and defended abortion rights. And now you running around here looking sad and it’s like, you don’t qualify to be sad.  Like I said, I’m not that mature when it comes to things and I’m a Virgo, so I hold a grudge and some of my friends try to tell me, you know, don’t feel the way, but I do. 

So yeah, that’s pretty much the state. So I’m doing my all to make sure that no pregnant person in Mississippi who contacts me who needs an abortion will be left out in a cold because they don’t have a ride, because they don’t have support, because they don’t have money for the procedure, because they don’t have, you know, like they don’t have somebody they can talk to.

So that’s why I look a mess, you know. Some of my friends criticize me talking about, oh, Colón, you look so bad. And we saw you on TV and I’m like, you right, Colón look a damn mess cuz Colón is tired. Colón’s mad. 

Brittany: Colón been working. 

Michelle: Colón is fucking exhausted. This is not TV. This is not a soap opera.

Brittany: Exhausted from I’m sure the many many phone calls you’ve gotten, including the ones from us, over the last couple of weeks and the last couple of days, but you’re also exhausted because like you said, you’ve been doing this work for a long time.  

Michelle: It’s an everyday challenge for abortion providers.

Getting your staff into work, right? Getting them in safely, you know, checking to make sure that your facility is A, still safe, still standing. Making sure you know that these damn crazy people haven’t cut the lights or try to set your building on fire or planted a bomb. You know what I’m saying? Stuff like that.

Then, you know, the next thing is getting your patients, your doctor there safely, and he, or she, they come through and have to experience something that’s almost like out a horror movie. I mean, I think people by now, everybody in the country has seen how these folks act. They terrorize not only the clinics, the clinic staff and the patients, but entire communities.

The biggest thing for a defender is making sure that patient can get in and out of the clinic safely and they do their best to try to keep their stress level down. You know what I’m saying? Meaning the patient’s stress level down, trying to make them feel comfortable and feel safe. And that can be very hard when you have, you know, 20, sometimes 30, 40 antis out there.

They start attacking people from getting out the car, you know, they’re blocking traffic. And so, you know, when you’re a clinic defender, you are playing all of these roles. You are parking lot attendant, you’re a security guard, you are the neighborhood watch, you’re the customer service rep.

But your most important role is that of defender, and that is of defending not only your clinic, but protecting that patient. And they do this without any assistance and any protection from law enforcement. 

Brittany: And you’ve been referring to antis, right? These are these anti-abortion quote unquote protestors.

Oftentimes people who are physically, violently terrorizing people. 

Michelle: Yeah. I’m not gonna call them protestors because let me tell you something, these people are not anti-abortion protestors. These are anti-abortion terrorists. When you follow someone and you attack them, right? When they’re trying to get in, when they’re coming down the street, that’s not protesting. And you’re physically stopping them from going into a medical facility, that’s not protesting. 

When you’re basically like surrounding them and screaming at them and throwing your body, that’s not protesting. That is terrorism. 

Brittany: I wanna ask you for the folks who have a lot of questions about what life is going to look like now. What are the options going to be for people looking to end a pregnancy moving forward?

Michelle: So what’s gonna happen is for folks who are pregnant and who want to go to a clinic to have their abortions, they’re going to have to travel a minimum. And this is just from Jackson, so I’m using Jackson, okay; a minimum of seven hour, a little over seven hours to the nearest abortion clinic, which is in Illinois, right over the St. Louis. border to get a procedure that is safer than having a wisdom tooth extracted. All because the government has now sanctioned this oppression. 

And this means, you know, people taking more time off of work. You know, some people won’t be able to do that, drive to get their procedure and come right on back.

They’re still gonna have to, you know what I’m saying, stay overnight. This means their procedures may cost more in the long run because, hell, you got gas is like an average here it’s like almost $5 a gallon, right? So that’s more gas. That’s, you know, lodging, that’s food.  You know, if you’re someone who already has children and a family, we’re talking childcare, and then you’re talking about missed wages if they have to call in to work. 

What I’ve been doing for some time is talking to people in community about self-managed abortion. And so that’s gonna be criminalized as well, myself and some other activists, and colleagues, and trusted people; we’ve been working to help folks from Mississippi get, you know, the prescriptions and things like that, and doing the telemedicine and stuff like that and having the pills delivered so they can self-manage their abortions at home.

So, you know, this is why I say like yeah. And Mississippi we’ve been existing in a post Roe society for some time. So, you know, this struggle and this fight for protecting and defending abortion access is not new to us. 

Brittany: That’s right.

Michelle: So when someone says, oh, you know, you all are not gonna be able to help everyone. You know what dare us, dare us. Some of us has been doing it. And we have put ourselves, you know, out there. It started way before the leak of the brief or whatever, the opinion. And so, you know, again, we have been preparing and so for me, what I’ve been doing or what so many of us have been doing is like fivefold.

We’re not only putting ourselves out there, we’re, you know, trying to train and recruit volunteers to help us along the way to drive and, you know, open their homes to be a refuge for people having to spend the night and childcare and stuff like that. But the other thing is making sure we’re fundraising.

And so we fundraising like some devils, right. You know, for the various abortion funds, specifically the local abortion funds. The folks in Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, also Alabama and Louisiana . And I have to give a shout out to Indigenous Women Rising because they are an Indigenous-led and founded practical support reproductive justice and pro-abortion group.

And they’ve been holding it down for Indigenous People for some time now and all of the various organizations like ARC Southeast, Tampa Bay Abortion Fund, SHERo has set up a practical support fund. Of course you can go to NAF, which is the national abortion funding network, so you can go there and your money can go to whichever fund all over the country.

There’s so many abortion and practical support funds in Texas that are ran by Latinas, other people of color, Latinx community. They’ve been holding it down for Texas. It’s even better if you can go to those local funds because they get the monies right away. And it’s so good for you to support these activists and organizers who have been doing this for some time now.

Brittany: And this is in part because of something you’ve spoken about quite a bit, really the intersectional nature of abortion restrictions and law because ultimately it’s Black folks, Indigenous folks, people of color, poor people who are ultimately paying the steepest price already for what we’ve been seeing pre-Roe but most certainly post row. Can you break down a little bit more, this connection between racial justice and reproductive justice and why really funneling our resources directly to those communities matter so much?

Michelle: This ruling struck down a fundamental right, which is the first time that in this Court’s history that this has happened.

Abortion bans are products of white supremacy and what the Court has done is that they have upheld white supremacy and misogyny. What SCOTUS did is made it very clear that women and pregnant people’s lives don’t matter. That people of color, our health, our lives, our rights are insignificant. This decision will allow half of the United States to immediately take action to ban abortion outright, forcing people to have to travel, you know, thousands of miles to access abortion healthcare.

Or to carry pregnancies to full term against their will. Black and brown pregnant people, especially Black women, have the highest maternal mortality rates in Mississippi. 

Brittany: That’s right.

Michelle: That is a reproductive justice issue. That is a racial justice issue. That is a healthcare disparity and racial equity issue.

Okay. We have some of the highest infant mortality cases. Again, that’s Black and white babies. Okay. And so, Black and brown women and people, we’re going to feel this a hell of a lot more harshly than white folks. Because when you look at the states that affected the parts of the country, the south has the largest population of Black and brown people.

Right? And the south also harbors some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws ever. So that is my sum up of that right there. And they are also the ones who will be criminalized the most, you know, and they have been criminalized. So, you know, they’re the ones who are gonna be targeted by this.

So booya there, you got it. 

Brittany: So you make it so completely clear that this connection between anti-abortion rulings and racial inequity, and then you’ve got somebody like Justice Samuel Alito, who in his decision wrote, and I quote, I know you can roll your eyes, cuz I do every time I see his face and hear his name. He said: It is beyond dispute that Roe has had that demographic effect. A highly disproportionate percentage of aborted fetuses are Black. 

He’s tying himself to this argument, that many folks on the right claim that abortion rights are themselves racist. So what do you wanna say to Justice Alito? Talk directly to him and use whatever words come to your mind. 

Michelle: There is and has been an existing racial double standard in our legal and healthcare systems, and educational systems. And Black and brown people, immigrants, and other marginalized communities are more likely to be criminalized and less likely to receive and have access to adequate healthcare services. 

These same communities are more likely to be targeted, right, for self-managing their abortions. And for any Supreme Court justice, and in particular a white one, to use the race card like they are a friend to Black and brown people.

Like they care about the interest and the wellbeing of Black and brown people. It’s not only insulting, it’s full of shit. And to use the language that he used, which is the same language that anti-abortion terrorists have used for years was fucking disgusting. And again, this is a side effect. This is a trickle, this is a descendant of white supremacy.

And again, what he and the, what is it, five of the justices did, they upheld white supremacy and they upheld misogyny on Friday. And they’re not gonna stop there. In the same week the government has told us, okay, and told me as a Black woman, I identify as a woman. And when I say women, girl, I’m talking about, you know, cisgender women, I’m talking about queer women, I’m talking about trans women. I’m talking about non-gender conforming individuals and trans men, okay. 

What they have done is they said, they’ve made it fair for me to carry a gun and they’re forcing me to carry a pregnancy to full term. These are the same people who wouldn’t and didn’t mandate wearing a mask during a global pandemic, yet they can mandate a pregnancy.

And so I tell everybody, and I’m gonna tell it to your listeners too, if you need or  want an abortion, if you need or want assistance, if you need or want support or a ride, holler at your girl. Whatever you need. I’m not using no camping references. I am a proud abortion freedom fighter. Yes, I am pro-abortion and yes, I am pro-choice, but those are two very different things.

And so if you need an abortion and you need that help, and you don’t know where to go, hit me in the DMs or whatever, whatever, whatever. And I’ll get you to someone, you know, an activist and an organizer in your vicinity who can help you. We are not going to leave anybody hanging. 

Brittany: That’s right. 

Michelle: And that’s why it’s so imperative that people, for those people who were like, oh, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t know what was going on. What can I do? What. Take your Starbucks money, give your $20, give your $5. We’ve been getting donations and it broke my heart. I had somebody give me $2 and they were like this. And I said, and I  hurried up and wrote ’em back. I said, I take it. I said, that’s the most valuable fucking contribution I’ve had today.

Brittany: Serious. 

Michelle: Give your money to abortion and practical support funds. So everyone will have the funding that they need in these 26 something and counting states, we will not be denied. We will not be deterred. Abortion is liberation and the Supreme Court doesn’t decide what I do. My future is mine. 

Brittany: It’s not so much your words, it’s your actions.

It’s you making sure that nobody is left behind, it is you making sure that everybody’s back is had. And I want you to know that we are gonna make sure that your back is had as you do that. So as you aid in abet, abortion, we will do the same and we will make sure that the funding, the support, the amplification that you need in order to do that at SHERo and all of the organizations’ clinics and funds that are doing that across the country are seeing from us and hearing from us.

I set up a monthly donation earlier this week because I needed to make sure that I didn’t engage in the kind of temporary outrage that pisses me off so often. But I am fully clear that unless there are folks like you who know the ins and outs, who can get people the resources that they need and get people into the doctor’s offices. Or get people the abortion pills that they need in order to self-manage, that we are looking at a future that frankly is unjust for all of us. And I genuinely do mean all of us. 

So I’m grateful for you, Colón. I hope I’m okay calling you by your nickname cuz you gonna be here to laugh for me now.

I wanna tell you that I appreciate you. I wanna tell you how grateful we are for you and you should be expecting to hear from us a whole lot more. 

Michelle: And I appreciate you saying that and thank you. And I just so you know, it’s not about me. It’s never been about me. It’s never been about just one clinic.

It’s always been about, It’s always been about that young person in a community where their entire lives they’ve been told that abortion is wrong. It’s murder, it’s this, that, and the other. It’s about that mother, that mother who’s already a mother who already has children who is struggling and who’s working at some low paying ass job where she’s being disrespected, devalued, right?

It’s about these women and girls and these pregnant people in Mississippi and across this country who basically have no autonomy or sovereignty over their own self. So this is not about me, it’s not about any one clinic. This is about a whole lot of us. And I also wanna say that, you know, men need to stand up and follow, follow our lead, our other allies, the gay community, especially the white ones.

Brittany: That’s right. 

Michelle: Cuz the Court has sent a very fucking strong message. And I wanna close with this, is that we have midterms and an election coming up. And we already know that there’s that minimum 70 million people who wanna put Trump back in office. We already know that these people have, they want, they’re coming after our birth control. They’re coming after our abortion pill. 

So if you don’t get your ass out there and take one for the team, I’m not trying to hear that third party shit right now, because we are in this situation because people either didn’t vote or they voted a different way and we know that the other side gonna vote no matter what.

And so this should be a huge fucking wake up call. So I don’t wanna hear it come November, oh, I didn’t realize this was gonna happen. You take your ass in there and you know what you got to do. Cuz I’ve always had to take one for the team, my mother, my grandmother, and every other Black woman and every other person of color has always had to take one for the team, because I saw meme that says that and I’m paraphrasing that, you know, voting is not a Valentine card. It’s like a chess game. You’re moving across the board to get to the other side. 

And that part right there is what everybody, who’s listening out there, voting does matter and it does count. And so you can sit your ass on the sidelines and be pissed off if you want to, but we are in this position because our folks didn’t vote and you can guarantee that the antis are gonna vote. 

Brittany: My friend Kayla Reid says that voting and electoral justice isn’t about falling in love with a candidate or liking a particular person or platform, it’s about setting the conditions for our own freedom.

And I appreciate that framework because it’s about understanding you go and you vote, and then you continue to engage and push the people that you voted for to actually do the things that you voted them in to do, which I hope the Democrats are listening to very clearly. 

Michelle: Absolutely 

Brittany: Cuz we’ve given them their assignment and they need to follow it.

Michelle: Absolutely. I’m not endorsing anybody, what I’m saying is that we gonna hold people accountable, but we need to hold ourselves accountable and need to recognize that this was our doing. Some of us participated in this. So now it’s our job to fix it. 

Brittany: And there it is. Thank you so much, Michelle, not just for this conversation, but for every single thing you do to set us more free.

Michelle: Thank you, Brittany. It’s my pleasure.

Brittany: Michelle Colón is an activist in Jackson, Mississippi. She’s the founder of Sisters Helping Every Woman Rise and Organize or SHERo, a grassroots reproductive organization that helps people find abortion care. You can find Michelle on Twitter at S H E R O M S 4.

Listen y’all, just because you know the next circle of hell is coming doesn’t mean it hurts any less. I know that even people like Michelle who’ve been fighting this good fight for literal decades are tired, frustrated, and hurt. And they’re also determined. I’m determined. The only way forward is to commit to our mutual freedom with everything we have to offer.

And I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean it literally. The work Michelle and other pro-abortion organizers, independent clinics, and abortion funds do is provide the practical support people need to be safe and free. Not just the messaging and that’s important. They give the resources. So as we lift our collective voices to tell our stories and control our own narratives, let’s be sure to be a resource to those providing the resources. To those showing up every day to aid and abet our freedom, we say, thank you. We got your back, literally.

That’s it for today, but never for tomorrow. 

UNDISTRACTED is a production of The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios. 

Our lead producer is Rachel Ward.

 Our associate producers are Alexis Moore and Marialexa Kavenaugh.

Thanks also to Treasure Brooks for holding it down while I was away. We’ll be talking to you again real soon.

Also Hannis Brown, Davy Sumner, and Raj Makhija.


Our executive producers at The Meteor are Cindi Leive and myself, and our executive producers at Pineapple are Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky. 

 You can follow me at @MsPackyetti on all social media. I promise you it’s not all baby pictures, but there are some. 

You can follow our incredible team @TheMeteor.

Subscribe to UNDISTRACTED and rate and review us on Apple podcasts and most places you check out your favorite podcasts. 

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being. And especially today, thanks for doing.  

I’m Brittany Packnett Cunningham.

Let’s go get free.