OOn June 24, the US Supreme Court was quashed Roe v. Wade, which repeals the constitutional right to abortion, which has existed for nearly 50 years. The reversal paves the way for states to ban or restrict abortions, and many are expected to do so soon.
Four abortion providers living in states that severely restrict or will soon criminalize abortion spoke to TIME about what they plan to do next. Some say they will shift care across state lines, while others decide to ramp up their activism in a post-roe America. Still, all four providers say they fear how new laws will endanger pregnant people seeking abortions. Their interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
dr. DeShawn Taylor
Ob gyn in Phoenix
Thanks to Dr. DeShawn Taylor
Taylor founded her Phoenix clinic, Desert Star Family Planning, in 2013. Earlier this year, Arizona has issued a 15-week abortion ban that would go into effect later this summer, but it is now possible for the state to issue an even stricter ban† Arizona also has a ‘pre-Roe’ ban on the books – a law enacted earlier roe and never removed, but whether it will be enforced is unclear.
Those moments when I tell someone they’re too far — the wail and the emotion — are so heartbreaking. I don’t want people to experience that if I can help it. It’s hard to tie my hands.
Some time ago I decided that I would stay in Arizona and be a community resource. My clinic offers general gynecology, women’s sexual health, gender affirming care and miscarriage treatment. The idea that once abortion is illegal in the state — that abortion providers may leave the state — that doesn’t sit well with me, and it’s not in line with my values.
read more† The battle over abortion has only just begun
I intend to be a resource to my community, a safe space. A place for the community as they mobilize to help each other get what they need, where they can get accurate information. I also expect that the people of Arizona will need a safe place to receive miscarriage care without being questioned as to whether they raised it themselves or not. People will be afraid to help.
After-roe doesn’t look the same as beforeroe† People already arrange their abortions safely themselves. What worries me is that people will try a self-controlled abortion later in pregnancy. I am concerned about bleeding complications and incomplete processes that are not identified and treated, potentially causing infections. We can watch people die.
Right now I’m really in a mode of determination. I am a problem solver. The biggest problem is the criminalization piece. And what my limits are – what risk I take since most of the people who are criminalized around these things in this country are people of color. the frontroe law has an exception for the life of the pregnant. The biggest question for me is, at what point can you intervene? Does the person have to be literally dying? If someone offers me a miscarriage, I’m not going to question people about how they got here. I’m just going to take care of it. And I suspect that such cases will also be closely examined.
I am a very spiritual person and I consider my practice to be my ministry. It is very satisfying and I know that I change people’s lives for the better. I’m just trying to stay open, keep providing as long as possible. Making sure I have staff and the resources to provide abortion care until I can’t anymore.
I believe the pendulum will swing back, which is why it is very important to keep my clinic open. We’ve seen over the years that once independent abortion clinics close, they generally don’t reopen.
Dr Colleen McNicholas
Chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri
Thanks to Dr. Colleen McNicholas
Until Roe v. Wade was destroyed, McNicholas saw abortion patients in both Missouri and Illinois. But a ‘trigger’ ban – a law now coming into effect almost automatically roe being destroyed – in Missouri means abortions in the state are likely to be banned soon (excluding pregnant people whose lives are in danger). McNicholas plans to split her work between Illinois, where the legality of abortion is not directly affected by the recent Supreme Court ruling, and Missouri.
Missouri has long been the leader in eliminating access to abortion. It has passed almost every restriction and law that other states have, and did so a long time ago. Illinois will serve as an oasis and will be the closest location to tens of thousands of people seeking care. That roe is repealed, we have two huge responsibilities: to act and fill gaps for states that have lost or will lose access, while at the same time working within Missouri to fight back and rebuild some access.
We cannot leave places. We know it will change over time, but we need the people here who are committed to that change to stay here and work for it.
Read more: What it’s like to be an abortion clinic escort
Abortion is an act of love and an act of humanity for people who are pregnant and their families. It offers some hope and the opportunity to fulfill their potential, to get out of poverty. I think banning abortion says to people, we don’t care about you. We don’t care if you’re having a hard time. The real implication on the ground for patients is that life gets harder. But people need to know that there are many people who are trying to make a difference, address this and remove the barriers.
The reason I continue this work is because I sit with patients every day and see the impact of a very simple procedure. Sometimes it’s as simple as I give you a medicine. Few medical services, with so little time, training and skills, can have such a profound impact on a person’s life.
dr. Carol Wil
Ob-gyn in Macon, Georgia.
Wanna has been providing part-time abortion services at Planned Parenthood for about two years. the reversal of Roe v. Wade will likely pave the way for Georgia to ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
Most of us have accepted what would happen this summer. You could almost see what was coming. But the cruelty of the decision still makes me sad and depressed.
Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah are the only places in Georgia that have abortions, so there’s really nothing close to where I live. I commute nearly two hours to Atlanta and nearly three hours to Savannah to work with Planned Parenthood. I believe so strongly in the right of women to choose their destiny. All my patients make a very difficult decision, but they decide what is right for their lives at the 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 is a lower risk than continuing the pregnancy.
Read more: Within the small group of doctors who risked everything to provide abortions in Texas
I’ll definitely stay in Georgia just because it’s my home. I will probably continue to work at Planned Parenthood, at least family planning and other services. I am not ready to uproot my entire life, but if there are opportunities to go to states where abortion is legal, I would definitely consider traveling to provide services.
We will have to change our services to try to enable women to get into the clinic as soon as possible so that it can be done early. I’m concerned that women will have to have the abortion, even if they’re not completely comfortable with their decision. That seems terrible to me. It can become a situation where even if a woman isn’t quite sure, they know it’s now or never.
Clinic Owner and Director of Red River Women’s Clinic in North Dakota
Thanks to Tammi Kromenaker
North Dakota has a ‘trigger’ ban in effect, paving the way for the state to ban abortion shortly after Roe v. Wade is tipped over. Kromenaker is in the process of moving the clinic from North Dakota to Minnesota.
We are fortunate to be on the border with Minnesota, which is considered a politically protected state from abortion. After the Supreme Court leak, we looked at what it would take to move the clinic to Minnesota because it was important to us not to change access. We already have patients who drive four, five, six hours to get to our clinic.
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We don’t want to have to move. We have built great connections with the community and it will be like starting over. North Dakota law and Minnesota law are also very different. I’m going to have to get to know the justice system there and learn which judges are favorable and which might be hostile – all those things that we’ve been through in North Dakota.
We have a huge target on our backs; we’ve had it for a long time. In fact, we’ve been in pretty much continuous litigation with the state of North Dakota for over a decade. They have tried everything with us and we have risen to the challenge and have worked very hard to provide this care. It’s been challenge after challenge after challenge here, be it the legislature or lawsuits or the protesters. So we are ready to take on this next challenge.
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