Photo: AP

What if Roe v. Wade falls?

By the time I found out I was pregnant I was about 13 or 14 weeks along, and I knew I didn’t want to have another child right then. I remember thinking that I would just use my insurance, my Medicaid, to pay for the procedure. That wasn’t the case, obviously. I couldn’t use it, and I couldn’t come up with the money. I couldn’t even borrow the money.

There was no “choice” either way. Because of my income, and because Medicaid wouldn’t cover the procedure, there was just no choice. That really hit me I guess when I was 17 or 18 weeks into the pregnancy, after I had been calling around about the insurance and knew I couldn’t afford it. I thought, “OK, this is what it is.” I was forced to carry the pregnancy to term, and I didn’t want to. That’s rough. That was really rough for me.

It wasn’t anything I wanted at that time, but she was coming and ain’t a thing I could do about it. That was just it. To even say that aloud, even now—you don’t wish that on anyone. I wanted to have a happy experience, I wanted to look forward to seeing my child and meeting her. There was no moment when it felt like “This is OK,” there was no moment when I felt, “Let me get happy.” There was no switch for me to turn on. It’s still something I struggle with, that feeling. I struggle with it now even trying to talk about it.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

Because the Hyde Amendment must be renewed on an annual basis, the question of poor women’s basic right to abortion has been brought before Congress every year since 1976. And every year, a majority of Congress concludes that poor women don’t have one.

And so over the last four decades, the law has done what it was designed to do: A 2009 analysis from the Guttmacher Institute found that one in four women with Medicaid coverage subject to the Hyde Amendment report not being able to access an abortion for lack of coverage. These restrictions also disproportionately affect women of color’s access to the procedure.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

The Ohio legislature voted this week to ban abortion at first detection of a fetal heartbeat, which is banning the procedure before some people even know they are pregnant, which is largely indistinguishable from banning all abortion. Now Republican Gov. John Kasich will sign it or veto it. Either way, the measure has done something significant.

The point of a heartbeat bill is bigger than policy. It’s also marketing. Pass or fail, it carries a message: We will never stop trying to take your body from you.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

It was September of 2015 when a Tennessee woman named Anna Yocca allegedly stepped into a bathtub filled with warm water and inserted a wire hanger into her uterus. She lost a lot of blood very quickly, and was rushed to a nearby hospital where, at 24 weeks, she delivered a 1.5-pound baby boy.

Yocca was jailed and the infant was taken into state custody and later adopted. In December 2016, Yocca was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon and two other felony accounts derived from laws dating back to the 1800s: attempted criminal abortion and attempted procurement of a miscarriage. Because Yocca couldn’t afford to pay her bond, she was incarcerated throughout her case—a year and a half in total. In early January, she pleaded guilty to attempted procurement of a miscarriage and was released on time served.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

The domestic gag rule, which has been a top priority for anti-abortion conservatives in the administration, would prevent reproductive healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood from accessing Title X funds if they provide abortion referrals. [...]

The new Title X guidelines “stacked the deck against Planned Parenthood,” Lynk said, emphasizing that they give funding priority to abstinence-only providers. “A woman in her 30s is going to a health center and be directed toward achieving a ‘sexually risk-free status,’ which is abstinence,” Lynk pointed out. “Or she’s being told to get married instead of getting access to the care she needs.”

The domestic gag rule would go even farther, effectively removing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood and organizations like it unless they agreed to no longer provider referrals to healthcare workers who can provide an abortion. “It undermines medical ethics by forcing health care professionals to withhold accurate and timely medical information from patients,” Dr. Jenn Conti, fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

In the final months of 2017, the Trump administration tried and failed to block three undocumented teenagers from getting abortions while in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In each case, the young women sought access to the procedure only to be refused by the agency, which cited a policy issued in March barring “any action that facilitates” abortion for unaccompanied minors, including “scheduling appointments, transportation, or other arrangements,” unless approved by agency director Scott Lloyd.

That approval would likely never come, even in cases of rape, because, according to a letter from Lloyd, to allow minors in ORR custody to terminate their pregnancies would be the equivalent of “being asked to participate in killing a human being in our care.”

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

She had searched “abortion, Alabama” after she found out she was pregnant because it seemed like the most obvious thing to do. “I’m 17 and he’s 16, so there’s really no way to support a child right now,” she told me during her appointment, shaking her head to drive home the point. [...]

Judicial bypass exists for teens like Lindsay and John. The question, now, was whether they would need it.

About 20 minutes after they arrived at the clinic, the teens re-emerged from the ultrasound room, faces soft and unreadable. But the news was positive, if complicated: She was early enough in her pregnancy—eight weeks—that she could wait until she turned 18 and bypass the courts.

Lindsay threw open the door, the late afternoon sun flashed into the clinic, and, just like that, they were gone. It felt cinematic. The prospect of going to court had been a frightening one, and then, suddenly it wasn’t anymore.

As Ayers began filing their paperwork, I asked her when Lindsay would come in for the procedure. “Her birthday is a month from now, so we made the appointment for that week,” she told me. It hadn’t occurred to me until that point that Lindsay would have to remain pregnant for another month. Four more weeks of hiding it from her parents, teachers, and classmates. Four more weeks of the physical symptoms of pregnancy.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country on Monday. House Bill 1510, the Gestational Age Act, bans abortion after 15 weeks of gestation and makes no exceptions for rape or incest; it does, however, allow for exceptions of the mother’s life is in danger or if the fetus has medical problems that would make it “incompatible with life.”

The bill passed the Mississippi legislature in early March, even garnering some bipartisan support. Prior to HB 1510's passage, Bryant had indicated he would sign the bill. “As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child. House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal,” he said in a tweet. In a Friday interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, Bryant reiterated his commitment, saying that Mississippi is “leading the nation in protecting the unborn. He added, “this 15-week ban will be the most protective language for the unborn,” before suggesting that anti-abortion policies contribute to the fiscal growth of a state.

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What if Roe v. Wade falls?

I love her dearly, but I know that wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t have an option. After she was born, I guess I went into autopilot. That was the story of my life for a long time, being a parent, being a black woman, trying to support my family. I couldn’t feel or process anything, any emotion. I needed to make sure I had diapers, that I had onesies, that I could get on food stamps. I had to make sure I was able to physically take care of my children. That was it. There wasn’t room for anything else.