Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for June Medical Services LLC v Russo. The challenged law out of Louisiana mirrors the Texas abortion restrictions we were able to knock down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016. What’s different now? Two things: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
As NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is advocating for abortion rights here in Ohio, we’re keeping an eye on the high court in Washington DC with an expectation that the June v Russo decision will be announced in the near future.
Before the court heard arguments, I was connected with Abortion Care Network and the Center for Reproductive Rights to talk about my experience being a clinic worker who has had an abortion. Along with other people who have benefitted from abortion access, I wrote a contribution for an joint open letter to Louisiana lawmakers.
Personally, I wrote about how my own abortion care, the excellence of it, motivates me to pour my own efforts into access:
“I can’t imagine my life, my career, without my abortion. I became pregnant for the second time six weeks after my now four year old daughter was born. I live in Ohio, where safe and legal abortion access is often being challenged. Luckily, the largest provider in Ohio is in my community and I was able to call and make an appointment quickly and easily. I was a waitress on maternity leave of sorts and in a relationship where I was basically a single parent. It was clear the moment I took that pregnancy test that I was not going to continue the second pregnancy. I was still wrapping my head around all of the intense, often joyful, but sometimes scary emotions of being a new mother. My daughter was too important. I had made a commitment to giving her the best life that I could and I knew I had to stick to it. That meant abortion, but what was abortion, I wondered at that time? It was mysterious, clouded in stigma, expensive, and kind of a whirlwind with the legally mandated 24-hour waiting period. Ultimately, my abortion was a beautiful turning point in my life that gave me confidence in my voice. The care that I received at my clinic was comprehensive and compassionate. The whole time that I was at the clinic I admired my caretakers for the thorough and diligent work they did. I always knew they truly cared about my physical and emotional well-being. Today, I work as a Patient Advocate at the same clinic where I had my abortion. It became a goal after my care to take what I had experienced and provide it for others. As a patient, I am honored to be an abortion care provider. To legislators – closing clinics, as this proposed law promises to do, hurts the people in your own life. Statistically speaking, you know someone who has had an abortion. Don’t let them become another impersonal statistic of a person who couldn’t receive the care they needed. Give them compassion, give them safety. Keep clinics open.”
Keep clinics open. Keep clinics, the ones with the resources, fighting for pregnant people’s rights and wellbeing, open – able to advocate. Our whole community relies on them and deserves their strength.
Though it may not be a direct attack on Roe, originally about admitting privileges, June Medical Services LLC v Russo intends to compromise our voices as a community by sneaking in lines about clinics no longer having third party rights. Meaning, clinics can’t sue on behalf of their patients when something unconstitutional is happening – a right granted by the prior case Whole Women’s Health. When clinics litigate for their patients’ safety they protect our whole community’s well-being. What will we as patients do if they can no longer block unconstitutional bans, or eliminate the barriers of completely un-necessary medical and procedural practices?
Pay attention to this case. If you can do something, do it. Even if it’s just downloading an action kit from the CRR’s website and taking pictures with signs, like me – do it. I took pictures and shared them on social media and shared my story. Will you? This affects my whole body – my whole life. Yours, too. Act.
For choice, forever,
Patients to Advocates alumni and
Administrative Assistant, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio