Abortion is still legal, even in Texas. Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas, wants to reiterate that. Even since Sept. 1, when the abortion bounty-hunter law went into effect, the clinics have still been helping people.
“When news like this comes out, it confuses people and scares people, and I think there are people who will read these stories and think that abortion is already illegal,” said Hagstrom Miller. “I think it’s important for us to speak to these people and let them know this isn’t final, and at least for now we can still offer them the care they deserve.”
However, when the Supreme Court makes the leaked draft ruling from Justice Samuel Alito overturning Roe v. Wade and Casey (the long-standing rulings protecting the right to an abortion) official, Texas is going to ban abortion with just one exception: to save the life of the patient or if there’s a risk of “substantial impairment of major bodily function.” Thirty days after the Supreme Court issues that ruling, doctors providing abortions in Texas could face life in prison and $100,000 fines.
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As if the six-week ban hasn’t been harmful enough to people who need abortions. NPR spoke with one 21-year-old Texan, Mady, who accidentally got pregnant. “When I initially found out that I was pregnant, I was like, I cannot have a kid right now. Like, I cannot do that.” Which is a pretty mature thing to know about yourself. She was past the six-week deadline when diagnosed, and when she reached out to clinics outside of Texas, found they were all booked already with Texas patients. She had to wait more than a month for her procedure. “So I drove all the way to Mississippi through the night with my father,” Mady said.
Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats must do now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
“And then after the initial visit, they’re like, you can come in on this day at this time next week. And so right after my appointment, we turned around and drove back to Texas.” She and her mom flew back to Mississippi the next week so she could have the abortion. It cost her about $2,000. Which means Mady was a very lucky person to have not just an understanding and helpful family, but the means to obtain the care she needed.
Another Texan, Nicole, counted herself lucky because her old car’s engine decided to turn over on the day of her procedure; any delays, and it couldn’t have happened. “I just had to honestly just make the decision quickly and say you know what, I’m 33 years old, I have a week and a half to kind of decide this, and it’s just going to be a ‘yes,’ honestly, at this point,” she told CNN. “I don’t know what would have been my next options,” she said. “I’m just grateful that my car came on today.”
Another Texan, 27-year old Caroline, found out too late, at 12 weeks. It took another six weeks for her to get an appointment at a Colorado clinic more than 1,000 miles from home. Caroline lives in an abusive home, where money is tight. A child was not an option. ”A lot of women in domestic violence situations,” she said, “know that if they give birth, that child will be turned into a weapon.” The wait was difficult, with complications arising in the 17th week that cemented her decision. “I haven’t been able to sleep and eat,” she said. “Pregnancy takes a toll on your body and my body's just been hurting.”
Those are three realities coming out of Texas. For so many more in the state, reality is even more grim.
More than 20 states are “certain or likely” to ban abortion once Roe is overturned. Thirteen of those states have trigger laws that will end abortion just as soon as the Supreme Court decision is handed down.
Blue states are working hard to counter that, to ensure that abortion will be made available to whoever needs it, no matter how far they have to travel. But there’s the rub—they have to have the information, the means, and the support to get there.
Here’s another reality.
Prenatal and maternal care in this country is abysmal, considering the resources we have. We are the absolute worst among developed nations for maternal mortality. But that’s not a concern for the predominantly white, predominantly male, and predominantly wealthy people making these decisions about other people’s bodies and lives.
It’s the people who are poor, who are Black or brown, who are marginalized because of their gender identity, who are young, and who are trapped by any situation—all of whom are on the list of people Republicans especially don’t care about—who will suffer the most.