DENVER — Confidence Omenai knows what it feels like to experience the loneliness and isolation resulting from childhood trauma. At 13 years old, she was raped, became pregnant and didn’t have supportive environment at home.
“I had no idea what I was doing or if I was making the right choice, and there was no one there who loved me or cared," she said. "That was the worst possible scenario to be in to have to make that choice.”
Omenai ended up having an abortion when she was 17 weeks into her pregnancy. The months that followed were some of the most stressful of her life.
“It was my freshman year of high school and I was giving a presentation and both of my breasts were leaking and my teacher had to tap me on the shoulder to let me know," Omenai said. "I was so confused because no one told me that after — because I was 17 weeks — no one said that afterwards my body would respond as if I delivered a child."
Her personal experience is the main reason she joined the board of directors for the Colorado Doula Project, a nonprofit that helps guide people from all over the country to safe abortion access in the state of Colorado.
“We provide abortion transportation to and from procedures, when there is financial assistance needed with procedures, and food and lodging for when people are here in Colorado to receive those services and medical support,” Omenai explained. “Most of the people we serve are people of color."
The organization also helps provide support for people after abortions.
“There are nuances that women need to know. When you’re nonbinary there are things you need to be prepared for when you don’t navigate the world in a cis [gendered] way," Omenai said. "There are ways to protect yourself that should be loving and comforting and gentle.”
After Politico published a leaked draft opinion from the United States Supreme Court that showed the court's conservative justices are prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, Omenai wanted to get the word out about the Colorado Doula Project.
“We are constantly saying, ‘If you need help, we know where the [abortion] bans are.’ We are making phone calls, calling our friends, and posting all over social media. We are using every platform and every method at our disposal to get the word out,” she says.
The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe allows states to dramatically restrict, or outright ban, access to abortions. This would not be the case in Colorado, where Democratic lawmakers recently passed a law codifying abortion access in the state. As Kaiser Health News recently reported, Colorado is one of the few states without any restrictions on when in pregnancy an abortion can occur and is one of the few states in the region without a mandatory waiting period of up to 72 hours after required abortion counseling.
Omenai feels that no matter what, no one should have to go through it alone.
“A lot of people don’t discuss that sometimes you need grief counseling. Some people experience grief, and some don’t. Even when you’re perfectly happy with your choice and the choice was right for you, you might still experience grief and you might need to know how to handle that,” Omenai said.
She says the Colorado Doula Project will continue to fight to ensure access to safe abortions, especially for the most vulnerable.
Dana Knowles is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.