While we knew in advance that the Supreme Court would overturn the landmark law legalizing abortion, little did we imagine what a post-Roe v Wade world would look like.
Just 30 days after the decision, a 10-year-old rape victim had to travel out of state to terminate her pregnancy. Mexican reproductive health clinics have opened at the border to help their neighbors, and draconian restrictions are the order of the day.
“Everything is super in flux right now,” said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization, to The Guardian.
“We’re looking at probably about 15 million women living in a state with an abortion ban right now. That number we expect to increase because more states are looking to ban abortion — and we could see as much as half of the country without abortion access very soon.”
As the media outlet explained, bans at six weeks gestation or earlier, before most women know they are pregnant, are in effect in 12 states as of Thursday. The bans have forced patients who want abortions and have time and money to travel hundreds of miles from home. Sometimes that travel has also put friends, family members, and abortion rights organizations in legal jeopardy, as states have criminalized helping people get abortions. Other patients have delayed routine care for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies as doctors fear criminal penalties for accidentally violating the bans.
Before the Supreme Court issued its decision, many states had so-called “trigger laws” that immediately banned abortion once Roe was overturned, ABC News explained.
Others had laws drafted before the court’s decision that they could enact after abortion rights were overturned.
Other states, meanwhile, have gone the other way and signed executive orders and directives strengthening abortion gatekeeping and protecting those seeking or performing the procedure.
Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina governors signed executive orders certifying the right to obtain or perform an abortion.
“A woman’s right to choose is just that — a woman’s, not a politician’s,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement at the time of signing.
The governors of the four states above and those of Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Washington signed executive orders protecting people who seek or provide abortions from criminal or civil investigations or charges.
In North Carolina and Delaware, neither patients nor providers will be criminalized for inquiring about abortions, as well as for providing or receiving abortion care.
Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island governors said they would not cooperate with investigations in other states of people who received or performed abortions in their own states.
Patient care has also changed. Abortion providers in states where gatekeeping is still available are seeing more out-of-state patients than ever before. At the same time, OB/GYNs told ABC News that more women are requesting sterilization out of concern that their current birth control methods will fail and they will not be able to obtain an abortion.
The decision to sterilize can raise personal and ethical issues; for some people, it’s not easy. But women, non-binary people, and transgender people who have decided not to have children say it is a choice they want to pursue freely and without pressure, CNN explained.
Some doctors turn away young people who want sterilization
The procedure, which involves surgically cutting or sealing the fallopian tubes to prevent future pregnancies, is not easily reversible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a small proportion of women — between 1 and 26 percent, depending on different studies — regret the decision in the future.
Sterilization is a common form of contraception among married couples, but only 4 percent of women in their 20s get their tubes tied, according to the CDC. Women who were young when they were sterilized reported a higher rate of regret.
As a result, doctors sometimes turn away young women who want to be sterilized.
However, extreme situations call for radical solutions. As long as a minority decides to take away the rights over our bodies, women, people with vaginas, and their allies will always find a way to claim their rights.