TLike most weekday mornings there will be around a dozen pregnant women waiting patiently for their appointments today. West Alabama Women’s CenterWhere we live. Some will be present for aspirational abortion. Many others will be there to have bloodwork performed and for counseling. They also need large booklets of fetal photographs that must remain in the patient’s possession at all times for 48 hours prior to terminating their pregnancy. The afternoon will be even busier, with as many as 15 patients at a time coming to obtain the first pill of their medication abortions, as even more “first days” arrive for their time with the nurses, the “informed consent” materials, and the start of their 48-hour countdown, too.
As Texans have moved closer to Texas, our waiting areas have become overflowing with people. They’ve push Louisiana patients to Mississippi, Mississippi patients to us, as eventually we’ve become one of the only clinics able to book appointments within a week of their initial call. The remaining South clinics have been crippled by Texas’s ban on abortion within six weeks. If a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling is believed to have been released, then the majority of Justices would be willing to reverse it. Roe V. WadeAs well Casey or Planned Parenthood?It was also confirmed by almost every other South-bound country.
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Inverse Roe V. Wade doesn’t just mean the process of returning the legality of abortion back to the states. For Alabama, where West Alabama Women’s Center is one of three remaining abortion clinics, legal abortion will end the moment that the U.S. Supreme Court says the very words “Roe is overturned.” While 13 states have a variety of “trigger bans” that will make abortion illegal within weeks or even days of the Court’s ruling, Alabama has an abortion ban that predates Roe – one that makes abortion a jailable offense for both provider and patient. Any procedure or pill that is provided by the Court after it has made its ruling will be considered a crime.
From every day here on out, we know that our practice must revolve around the reality that if decisions are on the Supreme Court’s calendar, we must be prepared for our work to shift from completely legal to something that can get everyone arrested in a matter of seconds. The difference between one patient taking a pill, and another receiving her water cup could seem as sudden as the time it takes for a patient to swallow a pill. One patient waiting in line may be granted a legal abortion because her number is high, and the others may have to go home. The worst case scenario is that a patient could find out her legal right to an abortion while sitting on the exam table, waiting for the procedure to start.
Every second of a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to become one can seem endless. We now know the dangers of a sudden shift in the legal landscape and that her rights to an abortion may be removed. It is possible that she may have followed all rules and restrictions imposed by Alabama’s legislature, including her 48-hour waiting period, her ultrasound, multiple visits, and her required 48 hour wait. Perhaps she had to scrape together the money for her treatment, find childcare or request time off work. She would have wasted all her efforts if she scheduled her abortion the day after the Supreme Court declared that a Zygote has greater rights than any other person capable of carrying a pregnancy in Alabama.
Continue reading: ‘Keep Listening to My Voice.’ What It’s Like to Be an Abortion Clinic Escort
The clinic has been anticipating this moment since December. And we’ll do everything we can to ensure that abortion is available for all until the law prohibits it. We also won’t close our doors once that happens. If abortion is made illegally, the patients can manage their care themselves and need to have a place where they can get follow-ups. People who miscarry will not be able to access medical care because they are afraid of being charged with illegal abortions. We will fill the gaps that already exist in a state without Medicaid expansion, with the third highest maternal mortality, and that ranks 47th in child well-being – gaps that will only get worse as more people are forced into births they don’t want.
Bodily autonomy is an inherent human right and supersedes all Supreme Court decisions. However, we also know that legal abortion cannot be stopped. Although it might take just one minute for abortion to be made a crime in the United States, we promise to continue working until it is legalized again.
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