The long fight for reproductive rights is only getting harder
Book review, By Katha Pollitt
May 13, 2020
Fifteen-year-old Talia didn’t realize she was pregnant until well into her second trimester. Ending the pregnancy meant she had to get a judge’s approval. Neither parent could fulfill her state’s consent requirement because one was missing and the other was involved in her life only now and then. When she arranged a clinic visit 24 hours before the abortion, per the state law for minors, she wound up at a “fake women’s health center” next door to the real abortion clinic. The people there did everything they could to dissuade her from ending her pregnancy, including falsely telling her that they would do it later (past her state’s deadline), but Talia remained firm in her decision. Lacking health insurance that covered abortion, she had to come up with $4,000 for the procedure.
Coronavirus crisis magnifies existing challenges to abortion access
May 07, 2020
In our recent book, Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America, David Cohen and I detail the considerable difficulties many people have in accessing abortion care. The relative scarcity of clinics means long travel for many; that abortion patients are disproportionately low-income women of color means hardship in paying for the procedure, particularly since the majority of states do not allow Medicaid funds to be used for abortion; the onerous waiting periods in many states often mean women have to stay overnight in a distant city, leading to the additional costs of lodging and more days of lost wages; confrontations with protestors at the clinic sites themselves can often be deeply upsetting. All these barriers have increased exponentially with the coming of COVID-19, and some new problems have been added as well.
The Network of Abortion Providers in Red States Was Already Delicate. Then Came the Coronavirus.
Becca Andrews, Assistant News Editor
March 31, 2020
In many red states, where abortion restrictions are plentiful and doctors who are willing to perform them are not, the physicians who do ultimately provide abortions often fly into town on a regular basis, sometimes traveling hundreds if not thousands of miles to get to clinics.
This is “not simply because of the high degree of regulation,” says Carole Joffe, co-author of Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America, “but that providers just do not feel comfortable living there.”
Abortion Providers Are Acting as Travel Agents. That’s Wrong.
The spread of COVID-19 will only further complicate the efforts to get abortion patients to clinics safely and efficiently.
Mar 25, 2020
David S. Cohen & Carole Joffe
We will not find out for a few months how the recently argued U.S. Supreme Court case, June Medical v. Russo, will be decided. But lurking behind the Court’s first abortion case since President Donald Trump appointed two anti-abortion justices is an underappreciated aspect of abortion care in the United States: the extent to which abortion providers serve as de facto travel agents for patients.
If the Supreme Court rules against abortion rights in this case, an already challenging situation will become much worse. But even before the Court rules, the COVID-19 crisis is already complicating abortion care and putting more pressure on providers to troubleshoot travel issues.
Anti-Choice Politicians Are Using the Coronavirus Crisis to Deny Abortion Rights
And they’re succeeding in ways they never could, absent the global public-health nightmare
By David S. Cohen & Carole Joffe
Mar 25, 2020
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the rest of the nation is focusing on staying healthy and social distancing, anti-abortion politicians and movement leaders have been doing the only thing they know — pursuing an agenda to shut down abortion clinics. Capitalizing on the mantra to never let a crisis go to waste, they are succeeding in ways they never could, absent the global public-health nightmare.
The chief vehicle they have been using is shutting down what they deem nonessential health care. By now, most people are familiar with orders from mayors or governors that only essential businesses can remain open. Most places that have put these orders in place have also specified that medical facilities can no longer perform elective or nonessential procedures.
The Real Challenges of Exercising the Right to an Abortion—and What You Can Do About It
by Carole Joffe and David S. Cohen
For almost half a century, every American woman has had the constitutional right to an abortion.
But—as U.C. San Francisco sociologist Carole Joffe and Drexel law professor David S. Cohen show in their new book, Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America—the reality of exercising one’s reproductive rights is riddled with hurdles designed by anti-abortion activists and politicians.
No, abortion providers aren’t craven opportunists. They care for their patients.
A Louisiana case before the Supreme Court could quietly stifle Roe v. Wade litigation.
By David S. Cohen and Carole Joffe
Feb. 26, 2020
In its first Trump-era abortion case, the Supreme Court will be considering a sneaky issue next week that could, without much fanfare, drastically curtail abortion rights litigation — and, ultimately, access to abortion. This issue has nothing to do with the constitutionality of abortion and everything to do with what the court thinks about abortion providers: Are they caring medical professionals, or are they craven opportunists?
In June Medical v. Russo, Louisiana is arguing that abortion providers don’t have the best interests of their patients in mind and therefore shouldn’t have standing to bring lawsuits on their behalf. That’s simply not true.
Anti-Choice Activists Fighting a Losing Battle Against Medication Abortion
Medication abortion is a gamechanger for pregnant people, particularly when other forms of abortion are difficult to access or even unavailable.
Oct 1, 2019
Carole Joffe & David S. Cohen
With the recent news that almost 40 percent of the abortions in this country in 2017 were by pill rather than surgical procedure, now is a great time to appreciate the seemingly unstoppable revolution this medical advance has brought about.
Abortion providers all over the country have witnessed this revolution firsthand. As the director of a network of clinics in a large Western state told us, “We’re doing medication abortions with nurse practitioners all over the state, and it’s particularly important in the mountains.” She explained that before medication abortion, in a particularly remote area, “if the doc was there on Tuesday and you came in on Wednesday, you had to wait another week or two.” This pushed some patients too late in pregnancy to have an abortion. But now, patients in the region “can come in on the day the nurse practitioner is there, which is almost every day, and be taken care of.”
Doctors Say Federal Rules On Discussing Abortions Inhibit Relationships With Patients
September 9, 2019
Clinics that take federal Title X family planning funding are adjusting to a new set of rules that limit what health care providers can say to their patients about abortion.
Though Planned Parenthood pulled out of the program in August rather than comply with the rules, thousands of other clinics continue to use grants from the federal program for family planning and sexual health services. These clinics are now under pressure to make sure their staff comply.
‘St. George’ Tiller: Abortion With Compassion
An obstetrics professor fondly recalls Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered a decade ago.
May 29, 2019
Re “Doctors Who Risk Their Lives” (editorial, May 26):
In your acknowledgment of the 10th anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, you rightly point to his courage in the face of relentless attacks by his opponents. But there is another element of Dr. Tiller’s legacy that bears mention.
In the close-knit world of the abortion-providing community in the United States, Dr. Tiller was routinely referred to, without irony, as “St. George.” This was because of his generosity and compassion. Providers from all over the country would routinely refer their most difficult cases to him — women who discovered that their pregnancies had gone horribly wrong late in pregnancy, 11-year-old girls who had been raped by a relative and barely understood that they were pregnant.
These colleagues knew that these patients would be cared for with the utmost kindness and sensitivity, and often without charge.
The writer is a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.