Public access radio that connects community members to one another and the world
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
KDNK will broadcast Carbondale Mountain Fair live from Sopris Park July 26th-28th at

Young women get proactive before heading to HBCUs in states with abortion bans


In California, many recent high school grads are preparing to leave the liberal enclave for states that now ban abortion. Some students headed to historically Black colleges and universities in the South are especially worried. KQED's April Dembosky takes us to Oakland Technical High School, where nurses are helping students prepare to live under more restrictive laws.


APRIL DEMBOSKY, BYLINE: Behind the main classroom building, across from the football field and bleachers, there's a small, bright purple building.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking Spanish).

DEMBOSKY: This is the TechniClinic, a school-based health center run by a local nonprofit where students can come during lunch, get free, confidential birth control consults and STI checks, then get back to their desk for fourth period math.


DEMBOSKY: Today, it's I’laysia Vital's last appointment before she leaves for a historically Black college, Texas Southern University. And she is so excited for the freedom of being on her own and being surrounded by a thriving Black student body.

I’LAYSIA VITAL: So I feel like it's really just positive. And I feel like I really want to be a part of that community.

DEMBOSKY: But in recent months, she's realized that this newfound freedom will come at the expense of another.

VITAL: Even on TikTok - I seen it on TikTok. There was a girl that was in the South...

DEMBOSKY: She tells the nurse how she's been reading about abortion bans in the South...


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Stand up for the life of that baby.

DEMBOSKY: ...Watching videos on TikTok of protesters harassing women at clinics.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Hey. It's a sin against God.

DEMBOSKY: I think that really opened my eyes even more to see that that's where I'm going to be going for school for four years. And I don't want to be stuck like that or even, like, people pushing me away with, like, umbrellas and stuff in front of a clinic. So...

ARIN KRAMER: That's powerful, love.

VITAL: Yeah.

KRAMER: That's really powerful. Well, I'm happy to get you some birth control before you go today, OK? So...

DEMBOSKY: Nurse Arin Kramer has been having several senior sendoff appointments like these, where she counsels patients as much about the law as about their medical options.

KRAMER: Many students here are just totally floored when I tell them that these laws are different in the states that they're going to. They can't believe that they can't get an abortion in this country.

DEMBOSKY: Kramer has been writing prescriptions for a year's worth of pills or patches, which, under California law, students can get for free all at once without having to tell their parents. But I'laysia, who's been seeing nurse Kramer for years, tells her she's in the market for something even more reliable.

VITAL: Because I'm very forgetful. Even if I set an alarm or write it down, it'll still slip my mind.

DEMBOSKY: She wants a long-term contraceptive...

KRAMER: They're both long-acting. You can forget about them.

DEMBOSKY: ...An IUD or an implant that will last for years. Nurse Kramer goes over the options and asks I'laysia some basic health questions...

KRAMER: Sleeping OK at night?

VITAL: Yeah.

DEMBOSKY: ...About her sleep and mood.

KRAMER: All right. And tell me, who are you talking to these days?

VITAL: Same person.

DEMBOSKY: Who are you talking to is adolescent speak for, who are you having sex with?

KRAMER: And you guys were - have been off and on, off and on, off and on?

VITAL: Yeah.

KRAMER: How do you feel like going forward?

VITAL: Well, now they're on because he's going to Texas too - with me - to school.


VITAL: Yeah. So...

DEMBOSKY: I'laysia decides to go with the implant, Nexplanon. So nurse Kramer puts on some calming music...


DEMBOSKY: ...Washes her hands and has I'laysia lie down and raise her left hand over her head.

KRAMER: And then you'll feel a little pinch. OK.

DEMBOSKY: Kramer gives her a quick shot of numbing medication in her upper arm, then coaches her through a series of deep breaths...

KRAMER: One, two...

DEMBOSKY: ...As she slides the tiny rod underneath her skin.

KRAMER: All done, babe. You did it. We are done.

VITAL: Thank you.

KRAMER: All right.

DEMBOSKY: I'laysia says she's relieved. Now, for the next four years, she can focus on her education and revel in the freedom of college. Nurse Kramer heads back to her office. She has a list of patients to check up on, many headed to states that ban abortion. For NPR News, I'm April Dembosky in Oakland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

April Dembosky is the health reporter for The California Report and KQED News. She covers health policy and public health, and has reported extensively on the economics of health care, the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in California, mental health and end-of-life issues. Her work is regularly rebroadcast on NPR and has been recognized with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists (for sports reporting), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (for a story about pediatric hospice). Her hour-long radio documentary about home funeralswon the Best New Artist award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2009. April occasionally moonlights on the arts beat, covering music and dance. Her story about the first symphony orchestra at Burning Man won the award for Best Use of Sound from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. Before joining KQED in 2013, April covered technology and Silicon Valley for The Financial Times, and freelanced for Marketplace and The New York Times. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Smith College.