Fire in the Belly III: Lindsey Oliver

We bring you another awesome young woman working in reproductive justice…
Lindsey Oliver is a sassy queer dyke living in Richmond, Virginia, who started her first abortion fund at the age of 19 and has remained on the board ever since. Last year she joined the board of the National Network of Abortion Funds and is interested in working on a grassroots strategy to repeal the Hyde Amendment as well as working on access to reproductive health services in the South. By day she is a HIV/STD Health Educator and just finished her first doula training.
1. What kind of work do you do regarding reproductive justice?
I co-founded the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project when I was 19, which is primarily an abortion fund, but which also does education and advocacy in our city. It all started when I was doing clinic defense outside of our most targeted abortion clinic: someone walking by gave us 20 bucks and encouraged us all to take ourselves out for pizza–but we had just witnessed several women leaving the clinic without getting their abortions because they couldn’t afford the procedure. So we took that 20 bucks and started an abortion fund!
2. Why were you drawn to this work?
I had an abortion at 16 that was really difficult to pay for and logistically set up. I felt forced to do things to make the money that I never thought I would have to–things that no one should have to do. My heart has been focused on this kind of work since then. My motivation comes from the anger I still feel on behalf of 16-year-old Lindsey and every other person I talk to who is in a similar situation.
3. What’s the most frustrating part of your job? The most thrilling?
Honestly, besides the goes-without-saying-Patriarchy? Not being taken seriously by others in the movement. Having to work so hard to make myself a place at the table, and not just because of my age but because often the bigger organizations still don’t get the connection between access and reproductive justice.
My fund is about to celebrate our five-year anniversary of being a 501(c)(3) this Spring, and we have helped to make abortion accessible to hundreds of women! That this is a movement that has so many opportunities for every kind of person, especially young people!
4. There are plenty of people who think that post-Roe women take their rights for granted. What would you like to say to these folks?
I would ask them to come to a meeting of my fund. We are all under the age of 26 and have been working together since we were 19 and 20. We became a 501(c)(3), developed an organization, and starting funding abortions before many of us were even legally able to drink. We respect and value each other’s place in this movement and work really hard.
At age 25, I am currently the youngest person on the board of the National Network of Abortion Funds, and I have had the incredible experience of getting to witness the power and never-ending dedication of so many people who are post-Roe. They are volunteering, going door to door, holding their friends’ hands during their abortions, working at clinics, educating their peers about safer sex, holding fundraisers and writing, talking and sharing their thoughts on the movement (and yes, even in blogs and on Facebook!). We are undeniably shaping the movement!

5. What’s one thing that a reader can do right now to help make your job easier?

Stop underestimating yourself! You are a valuable part of the movement, AND we need you! Start or join an abortion fund! Join the boards and decision-making committees in whatever you are involved in now–we always need more young people involved in shaping the direction of this movement. Don’t be intimidated, ’cause really… we are everywhere!

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