Pro-Choice Activists Brace for New Wave of Abortion Restrictions
NEW YORK — August 2, 2018
Abortion-rights activists are intensifying efforts to make it easier for women to get an abortion right amid a new wave of state-level bans and restrictions expected to occur under the reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court.
The protesters want to promote the idea of boosting financial aid for women who have to travel long distances to get an abortion, and also raise awareness about the option of do-it-yourself abortions. They are also striving to fight new limits on abortion access in red states that are being emboldened by the prospect of a more solidly conservative court.
It began with the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who earlier provided the decisive vote in support of abortion rights. President Donald Trump is now replacing him with conservative Brett Kavanaugh, who will give the court an anti-abortion majority.
Yamani Hernandez, the executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said that since Kennedy’s retirement announcement on June 27, there has been a large influx in donations to help pay for women abortions, which implies there is still room for growth.
“But without a doubt, we’re moving into a bleaker time,” Hernandez said. “People who haven’t been paying attention are realizing what is at stake, and wanting to get involved.”
There are at least 70 funds in 38 states, which currently assist about one-fifth of the 150,000 women looking for help each year.
If Roe vs Wade were overturned, abortion-rights advocates anticipate that 20 or more states would ban most abortions. Women in those states will have to take costly interstate journeys to reach an abortion provider, or avail themselves of information about self-inducing abortions.
The most well known abortion inducing agents are mifepristone and misoprostol and are legally available only through authorized medical professionals in the U.S.
For American women, the most likely means of obtaining misoprostol is via an online purchase from a foreign provider. This method is considered difficult to prevent, even in states with laws explicitly banning self-induced abortion.
Jill Adams, who is a founder and chief strategist of the 2-year-old California-based organization, the Self-Inducted Abortion Legal Team, said that their top priority is to provide legal advice and support for women who face possible prosecution for do-it-yourself abortions. Her group plans to launch a helpline this fall that will provide callers with basic advice and, if warranted, connect them with an attorney in their area.
Her team and its allies are advocating that states avoid such prosecutions, a goal recently backed by two major medical associations.
Anti-abortion leaders are troubled by this positive talk regarding self-induced abortions.
“This kind of effort is dangerous and highly irresponsible,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee. She also evoked the potential danger for women who use this method of suffering serious side effects.