Story blogs

Today’s post-Roe horror story: Interstate travel needed to protect woman’s health

Coming soon to Arkansas (if not already) is this story in The New York Times about a Tennessee woman, 19 weeks pregnant, who was denied an abortion early in the procedure. due to changes in the law.

She did not want to abort, but learned that her fetus had no skull and would not survive. She still wanted to carry the pregnancy to term.

But doctors told her that brain matter from the fetus was leaking into the umbilical sac, which could cause sepsis and lead to serious illness or even death. The doctors recommended that she terminate the pregnancy for her own safety.

“We debated it because I thought maybe I could beat the odds,” she said. “But then I got scared.” She added: “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to regret it. Because me and Adam are going to have to deal with this all our lives.

So she went to Georgia to have an abortion. Note that Tennessee law then allowed an abortion if a woman’s life was in danger, but doctors felt the legal risks were too great to proceed. Despite what the Governor and others say, Arkansas does NOT allow abortions for women whose lives are “in danger”, only to save a life. A woman must be injured to the point of death before medical intervention is legally protected.

The story makes me wonder what kind of care will be available in Arkansas, with a virtual abortion ban and no late-term abortion specialists. Even if it was a life or death situation, would health facilities and staff be prepared to deal with it, even if they dared?

The Times article is a heartbreaking story of one family’s grief. But this caught my eye, an account of the woman’s last trip to a clinic in Georgia to complete the abortion.

Georgia clinic staff notified family of protesters outside. As they pulled into the parking lot, they passed a man with signs showing dead fetuses.

“Are you all okay with killing babies?” he shouted into a megaphone.

He approached Mrs. Underwood’s parents’ car and her mother rolled down the window.

“We’re on the same side as you,” her mother said. “We don’t support abortion, but the doctors said our baby was going to die.”

“Do you trust doctors more than God?” he has answered.

And they call themselves pro-life.

The Times also has a fine legal analysis by Adam Liptak that considers Roe’s overthrow in the context of Brown v. Board of Education, another reversal of precedent. He belied the “originalist” mantra so dear to Republican judges. Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution. Neither does school segregation. Dissenters in the recent abortion rights case said school segregation could still be legal if the majority applied the same standard of “originalism” to school segregation. They also understood it by saying:

“The majority rejected Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because they always looked down on them, and now they have the votes to reject them.”