Abortion Providers in Anti-Abortion States Share Their Plans
OThe U.S. Supreme Court reversed its decision on June 24 Roe v. WadeThe constitutional right to abort is now null and void. It has been in effect for almost 50 years. It allows states to prohibit or limit abortions. Many are already planning to take this step.
TIME interviewed four providers of abortion who are residents in states where abortion is likely to be criminalized or restricted severely soon. Some say they’ll shift care across state borders, while others resolve to amp up their activism in a post-Roe America. However, all four providers fear that new laws could put pregnant women at risk if they seek abortions. We have edited their interviews to make sure they are clear and concise.
Dr. DeShawn, Taylor
Courtesy Dr. DeShawn.
Taylor was the founder of her Phoenix clinic.Desert Star Family Planning in 2013. AEarlier in the year,rizona enacted a 15-week abortion ban that was going to take effect later this summer, but it’s now possible that the state may pass an even stricter ban. Arizona also has a “pre-Roe” ban on the books—a law enacted before Roe and never removed—but whether or it will be enforced is unclear.
Those moments when I tell somebody that they’re too far along—the wailing and the emotion—are so heart-wrenching. I don’t want people to experience that if I can help it. It is difficult to have my hands tied.
I knew that I wanted to remain in Arizona, and to provide a service to the local community. My clinic offers general and specialist gynecology as well gender-affirming, women’s health, miscarriage management, and well-woman sex. The idea that once abortion is illegal in the state—that abortion providers potentially will leave the state—that doesn’t sit well with me, and it’s not in alignment with my values.
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My goal is to become a community resource, and a safe place. A place for the community as they’re mobilizing to help each other get what they need, where they can get accurate information. Arizonans are likely to require a place where they can receive care for miscarriage, but not have to be asked about their self-initiated status. There will be a lot of people who are afraid to offer assistance.
Post-RoeIt does not appear the same as before.Roe. Many people are already able to safely manage their own abortions. I am concerned that people will attempt to self-manage abortions later in their pregnancy. I’m concerned about bleeding complications and incomplete processes not being identified and treated, potentially causing infections. We may see people die.
Right now, I’m just really in a mode of determination. I’m a problem solver. Problem number one is criminalization. And what my limits are—what level of risk I’m comfortable taking, considering that most people who get criminalized in this country around these things are people of color. Pre-RoeThe law provides an exception to protect the life and safety of a pregnant woman. For me, the biggest question is: at what point do you have to intervene? Do they have to actually be in grave danger? If someone presents to me with a miscarriage, I’m not going to be interrogating people about how they got to this place. I’m just going to provide the care. These kinds of situations will likely be monitored closely, too.
Being spiritual is a strong trait in me, so I view my work as my ministry. It’s deeply gratifying, and I know I am changing people’s lives for the better. I’m just trying to stay open, to continue to provide as long as possible. Making sure I have staff, and that I’m resourced to provide abortion care all the way up until I can’t.
My belief is that the pendulum will turn back. That is why it is so important to keep my clinic open. We’ve seen over the course of the years that once independent abortion clinics close, they generally don’t open back up again.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas
Chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, Southwest Missouri
Courtesy Dr. Colleen McNicholas
Until Roe v. WadeMcNicholas was able to see abortion patients both in Missouri and Illinois after it was overturned. But a “trigger” ban—a law that will take effect nearly automatically now that Roe is overturned—in Missouri means that abortions in the state will likely soon be outlawed (with an exception for pregnant people whose lives are in danger). McNicholas intends to divide her efforts between Missouri, which has legal abortion but is not affected directly by the Supreme Court’s recent decision.
Missouri has always been a leader in removing abortion access. It’s passed nearly every single restriction and law that other states have, and did so a long time ago. Illinois will act as an oasis, and be near the thousands who need care. This is the time to act. RoeThis law was repealed. We now have two major responsibilities. One, to fill the gaps in access for other states, or to help them rebuild their access. Two, to act within Missouri and fight back against access loss.
We can’t abandon places. While we know it will eventually change, the only way to make that change is for those who remain here and are willing to work hard to bring it about.
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People who have been pregnant with their children and for their families should consider abortion a act of human love. They have the chance to reach their potential and get out of poverty. I think the elimination of abortion says to people: we don’t care about you. We don’t care that you’re struggling. Patients will find that their lives get harder. However, patients should be aware that there are many people out there who want to help.
It is because I am able to see patients’ reactions and the effects of simple procedures that drives me to continue my work. Sometimes it’s as simple as me handing you a medication. There are very few medical services that, with such little time and education and skill, can make such a profound impact on somebody’s life.
Ob-gyn Macon, Ga.
Wanna provided part-time abortions at Planned Parenthood over a period of approximately two years. Reversal Roe v. WadeGeorgia will soon be able to ban abortions within six weeks of a woman’s pregnancy.
We have all accepted the reality of this summer. It was obvious that it would happen. The cruelty of this decision makes me sad and depressed.
Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah are the only places in Georgia that abortions are provided, so there’s really nothing around where I live. To be able work for Planned Parenthood, I have to commute nearly two hours from Atlanta to Savannah. Because I believe so strongly in women’s right to decide their own destiny, All of my patients are making a very difficult decision, but they’re deciding what’s right for their life at that time. The thought that women cannot have power over their destiny and be forced to continue a pregnancy they don’t want just horrifies me. Medically, abortion is extremely low risk; it’s lower risk than continuing the pregnancy.
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I’ll definitely stay in Georgia, just because it’s my home. Planned Parenthood will continue my work, at the very least in family planning. I’m not ready to uproot my whole life, but if there are opportunities to go to states where abortions are legal, I would certainly consider traveling to provide services.
We’re going to have to change our services to try to enable women to get into clinic as quickly as possible, so that it can be done early. I worry that women are going to have to jump into having the abortion even though they’re not completely comfortable with their decision. This is a terrible situation. It might become a situation where even if a woman’s not completely sure, they know it’s now or never.
Clinic owner and director of Red River Women’s Clinic in North Dakota
Courtesy Tammi Kromenaker
North Dakota has a “trigger” ban in effect that clears the way for the state to outlaw abortion soon after Roe v. WadeThe decision was reversed. Kromenaker has begun moving the clinic to Minnesota from North Dakota.
We’re very fortunate that we are on a border with Minnesota, which is considered a politically protected state for abortion. Because of the Supreme Court leaks, we considered what it would require to transfer the clinic from California to Minnesota. We didn’t want to restrict access. Patients drive up to four hours to reach our clinic, while others travel five to six hours.
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We don’t want to have to move. We’ve established amazing community connections, and it’s going to be like starting over. Minnesota law is very different from North Dakota law. I’m going to have to learn the court system there and learn what judges are favorable and which ones might be hostile—all of those things that in North Dakota, we’ve got down.
Our target is huge. We’ve had it for quite some time. We’ve basically been in litigation with the state of North Dakota pretty much continuously for over a decade. The state tried every possible thing with us and they have been very patient and supportive. It’s been challenge after challenge after challenge here, whether it’s the legislature or litigation or the protesters. So we’re ready to take on this next challenge.
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