How Far Would You Travel?
Anti-choice states have wasted no time exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic, using their emergency powers to enact total bans or increased restrictions on abortion care. These state bans purport to be in service of public health, but they only force unnecessary delays at the expense of women’s health and lives.
By forcing clinics to halt their services, travel distances to an abortion provider are dramatically increased. These states have succeeded in making abortion care even more out of reach for the most vulnerable populations, including those who are without the ability or resources to take time off of work, access transportation for long distances, and find or pay for childcare. The Guttmacher Institute has published data about the increased hardships facing people in states that have implemented bans or increased restrictions in response to COVID (read about it here).
An NPR story recently described the ordeal of one young college student in Texas:
“The week she lost her part-time job as a waitress, she found out she was pregnant. …Since she was 10 weeks pregnant, still in her first trimester, she was eligible for a medication abortion [which is safer than a single Advil or Tylenol]. Under state law, she had to wait 24 hours before getting the pills at the clinic, but the night before her scheduled appointment, the clinic called to cancel because of Abbott’s executive order.
He partner was with her and we ‘cried together,’ she wrote in her declaration. ‘I couldn’t risk the possibility that I would run out of time to have an abortion while the outbreak continued,’ and it ‘seemed to be getting more and more difficult to travel.’
She made many calls to clinics…the quickest option was Denver–a 12-hour, 780-mile drive from where she lives. Her partner was still working, so her best friend agreed to go with her. They packed sanitizing supplies and food in the car for the long drive and arrived at the Denver Clinic on March 26, where she noticed other cars with Texas plates in the parking lot…
She said that despite the ordeal she was grateful she had the money, the car, the friend, and the supportive partner with a job, to make the abortion possible. Others will not be so lucky, she wrote. But ‘I was desperate and desperate people take desperate steps to protect themselves.’ ”
You can read the full article here.
Abortion bans never succeed in stopping abortion—they only make abortion unsafe. Every day, women travel to Illinois from many other states to get the care they need. Illinois must not become complacent and risk losing just one election to anti-choice lawmakers. It has taken us 30 years JUST to reverse harmful laws enacted by anti-choice extremists, and it only takes one bad election result to completely undo our hard fought gains. Our work to defeat anti-choice candidates in 2020 continues.