US women prepare for what comes after abortion ruling

Published July 8, 2022
Jackson (Mississippi, US): A clinic security guard and abortion rights protesters confront an anti-abortion protester a day before the clinic permanently closes.—Reuters
Jackson (Mississippi, US): A clinic security guard and abortion rights protesters confront an anti-abortion protester a day before the clinic permanently closes.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the nationwide right to abortion has spurred a rush to prepare for an America where the procedure is banned in many states.

“Birth control,” “IUD” and even medical sterilisation have all jumped in internet search trends, and drugstore chains have limited purchases of so-called morning-after pills to cope with demand.

Three women spoke to this news agency about how they have made their own plans as legal battles over abortion laws ramp up in states across the country.

Stocking up

When the court last month threw out the 1973 ruling that made abortion legal across the United States, Sarah Kratzer worried Texas would go beyond abortion and start rolling back access to emergency contraception. Restricting birth control or morning-after pills is a distant prospect, but one that many people fear.

Kratzer, 39, is a stay-at-home mom in San Antonio, Texas, the southern US state with some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country.

She said she began stocking up on emergency contraceptive pills in May, after a draft court opinion leaked.

She received three packs of pills for free from a local rally of the nationwide “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest, which she attended with one of her daughters. She also ordered several more packs from Walmart.

Although Kratzer can no longer have kids herself for health reasons, the pills she has stored up are for her three children — ages 15, 19 and 20.

“They still have rights to be able to decide, ‘Yes, I want this child’ or ‘No, I don’t want this child,’” she said.

Reproductive health education is limited in some Texas public schools, so she’s also teaching her children how to track their ovulation cycles and use spermicides, and has bought ovulation tests and pregnancy tests.

Emergency contraception pills have a shelf life of three to four years, and Kratzer hopes the ones she and many others have stockpiled will provide enough time for the United States to reinstate abortion rights — though that may be unlikely.

If not “I will be going to other countries and picking (emergency contraception) up and finding a way to bring it back,” she said.

IUD, and moving abroad

Kayla Pickett is also worried about what other rights the Supreme Court might overturn, beyond abortion. “No telling what else they are going to do,” the nursing student said.

She and her boyfriend live in Akron, Ohio, a state that has banned abortion after six weeks. Pickett, 22, and her 21-year-old boyfriend plan to move to Colorado next year, and then abroad.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2022

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