The Supreme Court case of Roe vs Wade was decided January 22, 1973. There have been many articles written about abortion access over the 40 years since the decision. Last year saw a huge number of articles in response to state legislation designed to chip away at the right to abortion.
This year Guttmacher Institute has published an information sheet and a set of infographics about abortion in the United States. The five fact sheets present a lot of details about abortion in the United States. They are easy to read and I encourage you to look at them all.
All of the graphics are excellent, but two of them really caught my attention. The issues highlighted in them are what we see daily when we escort at the clinic.
Unintended pregnancies are rising for those below the federal poverty line and decreasing for those with incomes greater than 200% of the federal poverty line. The reasons for this are not listed, but access to health care, health insurance and contraception must be contributing factors. If you do not have access to free or low-cost effective contraception, you would expect a rise in unintended pregnancies. Some clients I have talked to at the clinic have stated they couldn’t afford their contraception for one or more months, but thought they would be safe with other methods. They made the decision to pay for other necessities of life.
What happens when 42% of the women having abortions are below the federal poverty line? As the graphic points out, an abortion can be delayed by the need to raise money. This results in a higher cost for the procedure. It is a real Catch 22. One client told me she was using her rent and grocery money for the month to pay for her procedure and was just hoping she wouldn’t be evicted until she could pay some on her rent, but she wasn’t sure where she was going to get food for her and her two-year old child. Those are hard decisions.
The second graphic that caught my attention ties into the difficulty of the 42% of clients below the poverty line. If 35% of all women live in the 87% of the counties without an abortion provider, how do they negotiate the additional cost of travel, time off work, and possibly childcare?
In addition to the physical barriers to a provider location, there are legislative barriers to abortion access. These include waiting periods that add more delay time and possibly raise the costs of a procedure. In addition, there have been a multitude of hurdles that clients have been forced to jump to access abortion thanks to anti-choice legislators in state governments.
Guttmacher says it best:
There are no women of reproductive age in the United States today who were of reproductive age prior to Roe. U.S. women of this age have never known a nation in which abortion was illegal and unsafe. Yet, keeping abortion legal and safe—and accessible to all women—is and must always remain an urgent national priority.
REMINDER: Share your story.
January 22, 2013 is the 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade. Forty years of legal, safe abortions. This invitation comes from our allies at Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:
“KRCRC (is making plans for a January 20 event in Louisville, “The Roe Monologues,” to mark those 40 years (four decades, two generations!) since the Roe v Wade ruling, and we need your help.
We’re looking for your story. But also for your mother’s, your daughter’s, your sister’s, aunt’s, girlfriend’s, roommate’s, friend’s story. Fairly brief; 2 to 5 minutes, and starting with the year. (e.g. “It was 1983, and I was trying to finish up my nursing degree, when I found out I was pregnant.” “In 2008, my wife and I had been trying for several years to have a baby. Now she had finally gotten pregnant, but when we got the results of the amnio, …” “1957. I was living in Missouri, and abortion was illegal. When my roommate learned she was pregnant, …” etc)
On Jan. 20 at our event, we will love it if you will present it yourself. But if it’s bad timing, bad location, or you’d just rather not get up to present it yourself, we will be happy to have someone read it for you. Also, you can use your own name or a made-up name, your choice.
We need these stories! – and people need to hear them. Will you help us? Will you spread the word that we’re looking for these stories?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you’d like to participate, either in person or by providing a story for someone else to read.”
By stepping out and talking about our experience we reduce the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion. By sharing our stories, we support each other and continue building a world where reproductive justice is a reality.