September 20, 2022
Shop Good has been part of the Round-Up For change initiative since June of 2020, which allows our customers to directly support organizations and funds that cater to a variety of initiatives and causes. We rotate this organization bi-annually and this round we are partnering with ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE
ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE is a California-based non-profit organization founded in 1993 focusing on direct services, community education, and policy advocacy regarding reproductive justice and care for all communities. ACCESS is centered around serving BIPOC, communities of all documentation statuses, Queer, Transgender, and Non-Binary folks, Disabled people, and Low-income communities in California and supporting those traveling into California to receive care. I got to speak with Executive Director Jessica Pinckney Gil (she/her/hers) about the background of the organization.
Shop Good: How was the ACCESS RJ started?
Jessica Pinckney Gil: ACCESS was founded in 1993 by clinic escorts who witnessed the many barriers pregnant people were facing, especially young or low-income folks to actually obtaining an abortion. The vision for ACCESS was not only to provide information and practical support on all aspects of reproductive health but to build a community actively working to meet the real needs of folks seeking reproductive health services.
ACCESS received our first Healthline call in September 1993. With a few phones, a handful of volunteers, and binders of referrals, we began challenging the barriers to reproductive health care, whether that meant providing a caller with basic information about their menstrual cycle or offering rides so a pregnant person could get to their abortion appointments. Since then, ACCESS has grown into a state-wide organization that is multicultural, multigenerational, bilingual and serves as a leader in state advocacy efforts using its unique perspective of having a Healthline and policy goals.
SG: How long has the ACCESS RJ been active?
JPG: ACCESS RJ has been active for nearly 30 years. In that time, we have combined direct services, community education, and policy advocacy to promote real reproductive options and access to quality health care for people in California. No other organization in the state provides the same range of support for people considering or seeking an abortion.
SG: What are the most impactful accomplishments or critical moments since the organization started?
JPG: – Being a consistent and reliable resource to individuals seeking support accessing reproductive healthcare for nearly 30 years
- In 2008, playing a leading role in defeating Proposition 4, the third parental notification ballot initiative in four years. Together with reproductive justice allies throughout the state, ACCESS called on Californians to protect the health and safety of our community members through voter education, get-out-the-vote activities, and media outreach.
- In collaboration with Black Women for Wellness and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, publishing the first-ever “California Legislative Record on Reproductive Justice” for 2013 & 2014.
- Helping to and supporting the launch our sibling organization, Access Reproductive Care Southeast to serve callers in the Southeastern United States.
- As a co-sponsor of SB 23, along with allied organizations, advocating for the repeal of California’s Welfare Family Cap through the budget bill to improve support for low-income people choosing to continue their pregnancies.
SG: How does your organization help to protect those involved from repercussions in the current legal landscape?
JPG: ACCESS RJ is incredibly privileged to operate in a “Reproductive Freedom” state, meaning a state that is friendly to those seeking to access an abortion or other related reproductive healthcare. Our focus is providing comprehensive, judgment-free support to individuals who are asserting their bodily autonomy and decision making power to control if, when, and how they build their families. ACCESS RJ works tirelessly to be a safe space for Californians and those who may come to California to seek their care.
How do you envision the future of abortion and reproductive care in the U.S?
JPG: We’re certainly in a dark and hard time right now for abortion access in this country, but at ACCESS RJ, we know this is not the end. We believe by following the tenets of Reproductive Justice, listening to and following the leadership of Black Women, BIPOC folks, low income people, trans and gender non-binary folks, disabled individuals and others who have historically been pushed to the margins, but we know to be at the center of our work, that we will eventually live in a world where Reproductive Justice guides how we interact with each other and in community. We believe the fight continues, because there is no other option. People deserve the ability to make decisions about their own lives, their own families, and their communities.
SG: What can our readers do to help?
JPG: Your readers can always help by following the work of our organization on social media or via our newsletter. They can make a monthly recurring donation. Even $5 makes a huge difference for people seeking abortion care. Folks can talk about abortion in their daily lives. As We Testify reminds us, “Everyone Loves Somebody Who’s Had an Abortion.” The work to destigmatize abortion by talking about it frequently and amongst various populations of people is incredibly important to normalize what is a very normal part of life for most individuals.
SG: What is something that inspires your work?
JPG: Our callers definitely inspire our work. They work against sometimes insurmountable odds and barriers to access the services, care and support they know they want and need. They don’t take no for an answer and they jump over hurdle after hurdle to access basic healthcare. That inspires us to keep providing them the support and care we can and to always be centering their needs and experiences in how we develop our programs and provide our support.
SG: As a San Diegan, what are some of your favorite places to visit?
JPG: I haven’t lived in San Diego in almost 15 years despite still being a proud native, but my favorite restaurant has and will always be Ponce’s in Kensington. Mr. Frostie in Pacific Beach was a true staple of my childhood. When I return to San Diego for visits, I love bringing friends and family to my favorite beach, Law Street Beach, where I grew up!
To take part in the Round Up for Change initiative, you can select at checkout to round up your order amount to the nearest dollar or enter any amount you’d like. We love that we can connect the Shop Good community with ACCESS and all their amazing work!