“A post-Roe strategy”: the next phase in the fight against abortion has already begun

Abortion rights groups raise millions in donations, recruit volunteers to help people cross state borders for the procedure, and develop a gray market to deliver abortion pills directly to patients’ doors, even in states that have banned them.

Clinics in Democratic-controlled states are also renewing, anticipating a flood of new patients from Republican-ruled states, which have tightened access for years and may waste little time banning the procedure altogether. Roe deer publication date.

Conservative groups are just as busy: drafting model law that will ban abortion, spending hundreds of thousands dollars by lobbying lawmakers to enact new bans and sending a door-to-door army to major swing states to mitigate any political backlash the move might cause.

“We’ve had a post-Roe strategy for the past 15 years,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America. “Now is the time for the rubber to meet the road. “

While a limiting or reversing decision Roe vs. Wade would not prohibit the procedure at the national level, it would further weaken the current mosaic of access in the country. A dozen states have ‘trigger’ laws that automatically ban abortion if the court reverses the 50-year-old precedent, while other conservative-led states should act quickly to ban abortion afterwards. of such a decision. A smaller group of progressive states have abortion rights protected by state law.

But many states do not prohibit or protect the procedure, and a final decision, which is expected to come just months before midterms, could shape the 2022 election as the two sides compete for the votes, with the understanding that the right to abortion can be determined. by which party wins.

“Dozens of states are likely or certain to ban abortion if Roe deer falls. Do the people of these states know that? Asked Kristin Ford of NARAL, who supports candidates who support the right to abortion. “How do we communicate the seriousness and importance of this moment to voters and remind them who is to blame – who confirmed these judges and how to hold those elected to account?”

Texas, which has implemented a near-total abortion ban in the past three months that the Supreme Court has allowed to uphold, offers a glimpse of what the nation might look like if life Roe deer falls: People with means who cross state and national borders or who break the law to terminate a pregnancy while those who are unable or unwilling to do so carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

And in the five states that now only have one clinic, the right to abortion may still exist on paper, but access is so limited that organizers on the ground say they are bracing for a ” post-Roe scenario ‘for years.

“We still have a clinic, but it’s just one, they can only do procedures a few times a week, and they have to bring all of their doctors in by plane from out of state,” said Michelle Colón. , executive director of the Mississippi-based hospital. group SHERO, which stands for Sisters Helping Every Woman Rise and Organize. “They can’t even see everyone who needs an abortion in Mississippi, let alone serve people from Alabama, Louisiana and other neighboring states.”

SHERO is part of a loose network of abortion rights groups preparing to end Roe deer and scrambling to get information, drugs and resources into the hands of those in states most likely to ban abortions. These groups distribute emergency contraception and offer workshops on its use, recruit volunteers to refer patients to clinics in other states, and raise funds to cover travel, accommodation, and childcare costs. – as well as the cost of the procedure itself, which is rarely covered by insurance when patients are discharged from the state.

Abortion funds across the country – the largely volunteer-run nonprofits that answer calls from people who can’t afford the procedure or travel – distributed $ 9 million in 2020, up from $ 4 million. million dollars in 2018, according to the National Network of Abortion Fund. The vast majority of the money comes from small individual donations, with a fraction coming from charitable foundations. But groups fear they won’t have enough to meet demand if Roe deer is significantly reduced or reversed.

Meanwhile, clinics in states with fewer restrictions on abortion – like Illinois and California – are adding staff and hours while calling on lawmakers to make the procedure even more accessible. Advocates in California are pushing for the state’s Medicaid program to more easily reimburse providers for treatment of out-of-state patients, while groups in Michigan are considering a voting initiative to secure the access to abortion pills.

Their preparedness work was put to the test in September when the Supreme Court allowed Texas‘ six-week ban to take effect, and in parts of the country, limited clinic resources are now nearly overwhelmed.

“Before Texas, our system was already taxed,” said Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of one of Planned Parenthood’s Midwestern subsidiaries, which operates a clinic on the Illinois-Missouri border and serves patients from many states. surrounding areas. “We are now on the verge of not being able to enforce it.”

Anti-abortion groups are also working to shape a post-Roe world.

Students for Life, an anti-abortion group that focuses primarily on college campuses, is lobbying more than 30 state legislatures to pass restrictions on abortion. The organization also recently launched a $ 5 million campaign in 20 cities – from Jackson, Mississippi to Tacoma, Wash. – to have volunteers and staff knock on more than 77,000 doors, put up notice boards, phone to a bank and run digital ads to convince people to oppose Abortion.

And Americans United for Life, one of the biggest anti-abortion lobby groups, plans to unveil a new database in January, when state legislatures resume their session. The resource will explain the state’s current law and the measures that would be needed to ban abortion if Roe deer is reversed, Katie Glenn, the group’s government affairs adviser, told POLITICO.

“We are also developing model bills which we believe are constitutionally sound and which ensure that women are not penalized – this is in every law we work on,” she said.

Anti-abortion groups, anticipating an increase in unwanted pregnancies, are also promote faith-based pregnancy centers in crises, call on college campuses to provide better housing and services for pregnant and parenting students, and lobby state governments to allocate funds for parenting classes, adoption services and other anticipated needs.

“We realize this will mean there will be women who will need more resources and help and we want to step up and provide that,” Glenn said. “This is the kind of thinking we are pushing all states to do.”

Another front is emerging on abortion pills. Students for Life, as well as several other groups, are working with Republicans in Congress – primarily Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) – to ban online sales of abortion pills and their distribution on college campuses.

Eight red states have already enacted pill restrictions in anticipation of the Biden administration’s easing federal restrictions on the drug and allowing its telemedicine prescription and home delivery – a decision the FDA will take later this month -this. And 16 others under Republican control states have introduced bills to limit access.

“Our post-Roe strategy is primarily an offensive strategy,” Hawkins told POLITICO. “But our defensive strategy is to fight chemical abortion.”

Progressive groups have also focused on abortion pills, which they expect to be one of the main ways people living in states that can ban surgical abortions can still end a pregnancy if Roe deer falls. Colón described the drug as a key differentiator in the pre-Roe era, when many people were forced to turn to unlicensed suppliers for risky procedures.

“A big part of our mandate as a movement fighting for reproductive freedom right now is to help people understand what medical abortion care is, how it works and how to access it,” said Ford of NARAL.

The two-drug regimen is much cheaper than a surgical abortion, can be ordered online and taken at home, and has a less than half a percent risk of major complications.

Still, the pills can only be taken during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. By the time a person realizes that they are pregnant and finds out how to get them, it may be too late. Abortion rights groups also fear that misinformation and fear will prevent people from using the pills or dissuade them from seeking follow-up care if needed, especially as more and more people States are preparing to ban them.

“I cannot stress enough that states are criminalizing this – by jailing the people who manage their abortions themselves and by prosecuting those who help them do it,” Colón said. “Yes Roe deer is knocked down, I expect it will only get worse.

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