Gaylon Alcaraz is the executive director of Chicago Abortion Fund. Gaylon was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule helping low-income women in order to answer my difficult questions. I am honored to have Gaylon share her experience, ideas, wisdom, and inspiration with all of us.
Jacquie: What can be done to ensure women receive the medical care they need?
Gaylon Alcaraz: At first glance the answer to this question seems rather obvious – just give women full access to the services they need. However, we know that the anti-woman anti-choice climate works diligently to prevent that. So what I would say is that we really need to elect more pro-choice progressives – people like you and me – that have been on the ground doing this work. We understand the issues; we have built a base and are real advocates for the marginalized and disempowered. Yes, the president has a certain amount of power however if you have a majority in the position to stop or hinder the presidential powers who has the real power? So to ensure that women are taken care of, respected and trusted to make their own decisions; to ensure that they have all the resources they need to make those decisions – we must have elected officials that believe in this framework.
How are abortion rights currently being challenged?
In the last year alone there have been over 300 anti-choice bills across the country that either were introduced, voted on or passed that would restrict a woman’s right to her own reproductive health care decisions. From “eggs as persons”, to “abortion centers as mini surgical centers”, to the blatant closing of abortion clinics – the rights to a legal medical procedure are being constantly challenged and attacked. As we have seen this past April with the racist billboard campaign in Chicago– the anti-choice climate will do nothing to restrict a woman’s access.
Based on current trends, what does the future of abortion access look like?
So based on the current trends and hostile climate that doesn’t look like it is winding down anytime soon – the future of abortion access looks very bleak. What people must realize is that we cannot change this climate without some key things: we need progressive pro-choice candidates in office, we need financial resources to ensure that we can serve the women that need support, and we need those women we serve to step up to become leaders in this movement. We need to change the face of the movement – eliminate the shame still associated with this legal medical procedure and we need to change the conversation – this is about women!
Do you identify as a feminist? Why or why not?
Yes, I identify as a feminist because I believe that women and girls can do anything. Further, I believe that we are the only ones that can save ourselves. We cannot expect men who make the decisions to save us. The only way to save ourselves in a male dominated society is through a reproductive justice framework. When all women and girls have all the resources they need to live healthy and successful then we will have an equal playing field.
Who inspires you the most?
I couldn’t fill enough pages to say who inspires me most. That is a tough question. I admire so many for many reasons.
Of course some stand right out – Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, Dr. King, Coretta Scott King, so many of my facebook friends working to make the world a better place, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ken Sara Wiwa and, Nelson Mandela. But one must not forget those that we rarely think about: Reproductive Rights Lawyers, donors that believe in true justice, the women that call the hotline in an attempt to control the lives they live in, my children for being authentic and well rounded, my board of directors that trust me to carry out their directives, my girlfriend that walks through this world proud of who she is, my grandparents that struggled through some of the most oppressive times in history that many of us cannot imagine. I am inspired by those individuals that run for office against the machine.
Please share some parting wisdom with us.
A lot of my “so-called” wisdom comes from my reading materials. I will share some here:
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch
Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Life – Anthony DeMello
The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson, M.D.
To Die for the People – Huey Newton
The Power of Kindness – Piero Ferrucci
The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity – Edwene Gaines
But more importantly – I am only human, I make mistakes, I’m not perfect, I wasn’t given a play book on how to live life, I’m living the best way I know how and will be flawed in that process…..but I am living!
For more information about Chicago Abortion Fund, please visit their website: ChicagoAbortionFund.com. If you need help, please visit: CAF Resources.