Abortion Rights and Healthcare: A Panel Discussion with Local Artists and Advocates
Panel Discussion with Amelia Bonow, Pramila Jayapal, Mercedes Sanchez, Heidi Schreck, and Alexis Turla
Moderated by Kaytlin McIntyre
Seattle Rep invites you to witness the cross section of powerhouse abortion rights advocates as they deconstruct the themes of What the Constitution Means to Me and the role of storytelling in activism. This riveting discussion will feature What the Constitution Means to Me playwright and Tony Award nominee, Heidi Schreck; Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th District; Co-founder and Director of Shout Your Abortion, Amelia Bonow; Chief of Staff to Councilmember Morales and women's health advocate, Alexis Turla; and Mercedes Sanchez, Director of Development, Communications, and Community Education and Outreach at Cedar River Clinics. Together these speakers will create a restorative dialogue that will define how we continue to shape culture in our communities. We are excited to have your valuable presence at this conversation.
Meet the Panelists
Amelia Bonow is the Co-founder and Director of Shout Your Abortion, an organization working to normalize abortion and elevate paths to abortion access regardless of legality. In 2015, Bonow’s abortion disclosure inspired a viral outpouring of abortion stories on social media, receiving front page coverage from The New York Times, LA Times, as well as The New Yorker, ABC’s Nightline, The BBC, and Al Jazeera. Bonow left her graduate program and began developing SYA into a nationwide movement geared towards creating places for people to discuss their abortions in art, media, and at community events. SYA’s website, which is currently home to thousands of abortions stories, won the Webby Award for best activist website in 2017. Bonow is proud to serve on the board of directors of Abortion Care Network, which represents independent abortion providers all over the country. Amelia wants to talk to you about abortion and she believes that we are going to win.
Elected in 2016, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is now serving her third term in Congress representing Washington’s 7th District, which encompasses most of Seattle and its surrounding areas including Shoreline, Vashon Island, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds, and parts of Burien and Normandy Park. She is the first South Asian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and one of only two dozen naturalized citizens currently serving in the United States Congress.
Congresswoman Jayapal is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where she serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law. She also serves on the House Education & Labor and Budget Committees. She is also the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which represents approximately 40% of the entire Democratic caucus; the Immigration Task Force for the Congressional Asian Pacific Asian Caucus; and a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus where she is the co-chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force.
In Congress, Representative Jayapal has been a leader on immigration, including fighting the Trump Administration’s inhumane policies of separating children from their parents and crafting legislation to create a fair and humane immigration system. She has also championed legislation to address income inequality, such as the $15 minimum wage and expanded collective bargaining rights for workers. She has worked extensively on health care issues as the lead sponsor of the Medicare for All bill in the House, and she is the author of the College for All Act, which would ensure every American has access to higher education. She has authored other landmark pieces of progressive legislation including the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Ad, Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, the Housing is a Human Right Act, and the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. She has also helped to introduce the THRIVE Act and other legislation to transition our economy to 100% clean energy and address the crisis of climate justice.
Prior to serving in elected office, Congresswoman Jayapal spent twenty years working internationally and domestically in global public health and development and as an award-winning national advocate for women’s, immigrant, civil, and human rights. She spent almost a decade working on global health and development for the international nonprofit organization, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), and spent 12 years as the founder and Executive Director of OneAmerica, the largest immigration advocacy organization in Washington State and one of the largest in the country.
Representative Jayapal was born in India, grew up in India, Indonesia and Singapore, and came to the United States by herself at the age of 16 to attend college at Georgetown University. She later received her MBA from Northwestern University, worked in a number of industries in both the public and private sector, and published her first book in 2000, Pilgrimage to India: A Woman Revisits Her Homeland. She has since published a second book, Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman’s Guide to Politics and Political Change.
She is married to Steve Williamson, a long-time labor leader and strategist, and is the proud mother of a transgender daughter name Kashika, step-son named Michael, and 65-pound labradoodle, Otis.
Mercedes Sanchez is the Director of Development, Communications, and Community Education and Outreach at Cedar River Clinics. Cedar River Clinics are proud to provide reproductive healthcare, including first and second trimester abortions, in Washington State with clinics in Renton, Seattle, Tacoma, and Yakima. In addition to working at Cedar River Clinics, Mercedes proudly serves on the board of the Abortion Care Network which is a national organization for independent clinics across the country. In her free time, Mercedes writes plays, poetry, and short stories that address social justice issues.
Heidi Schreck is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn. She started her theater career in Seattle in the 1990s at Printer's Devil Theater, founded by Paul Willis and her now-husband Kip Fagan, and she is excited to be returning to the city after so many years. Heidi's play What the Constitution Means to Me was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the Obie Award and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play in 2019. She also received two Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, and received the 2019 Benjamin Hadley Danks Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. A filmed version of What the Constitution Means to Me, starring Schreck, premiered in 2020 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award, a PGA Award, and a DGA Award. Her other work includes Grand Concourse, which debuted at Playwrights Horizons and Steppenwolf Theatres in 2014/15 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and her first play Backwards into China, produced by Printer's Devil at the Theater Off Jackson in 1997. Screenwriting credits include “I Love Dick,” “Billions,” “Nurse Jackie," "Dispatches from Elsewhere," and projects in development with Plan B, Amazon, and Imagine Television. Heidi has also taught playwriting and screenwriting at NYU, Columbia, and Kenyon College and is the recipient of three Obie Awards, a Drama Desk, the Horton Foote Playwriting Award, and a Theatre World Award.
Alexis Turla serves as the Chief of Staff to Councilmember Morales. Alexis is a self-proclaimed bureaucratic activist with over 20 years of governmental and public policy experience. She started her public policy journey with the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Continuing her passion to provide opportunity and access for all, Alexis served as Executive Policy Advisor to Governor Gregoire and as Director of the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise. Recently, Alexis was the Government Affairs Director at Forterra. Alexis is a die hard Wolverine (Go Blue!). She graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Women’s Studies, and a J.D. from Seattle University School of Law. She loves hanging at her Afro-Pinoy home in Rainier Beach with her husband, Rodolfo, and dogs, Kitsune, Akiko, and Totoro.