Restore Roe, or Go Beyond It? The Question Is Fracturing the Abortion Rights Movement

“We have an opportunity here to build something better, and we’re not even talking about it.”

SEPTEMBER 11, 2023

Not long after Election Day last November, Pamela Merritt joined a call with other abortion-rights activists in Missouri to discuss a daring proposal: sidestepping the state’s ruling Republicans by directly asking voters whether to add abortion rights to their state constitution. The group hoped to capitalize on a recent trend. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, pro-choice voters had been showing up to the polls in force, rejecting anti-abortion ballot initiatives in Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana. They went even further in California, Michigan, and Vermont, passing state constitutional amendments to guarantee, among other things, the right to choose abortion.

This unbroken string of victories has energized advocates who see ballot initiatives as a key tool in the post-Roe world, especially in states controlled by Republicans. Even in Missouri, where the anti-abortion movement was so successful that only one clinic remained by 2022, national progressive organizations smell opportunity. “Right now, every single state is dealing with a pro-abortion, riled-up base that wants a Kansas,” Merritt says, referring to the special election about abortion last year that drew greater turnout than any primary in the state’s history. “There’s pressure.


USA – Limits on early abortion drive more women to get them later

Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
June 1, 2022

An 18-year-old was undergoing treatment for an eating disorder when she learned she was pregnant, already in the second trimester. A mom of two found out at 20 weeks that her much-wanted baby had no kidneys or bladder. A young woman was raped and couldn't fathom continuing a pregnancy.

Abortions later in pregnancy are relatively rare, even more so now with the availability of medications to terminate early pregnancies.


USA – As a med student, he saw women nearly die from illegal abortions. At 83, he sees no end to his work

Photography by GINA FERAZZI
MARCH 10, 2022

BOULDER, Colo. — Dr. Warren Hern doesn’t have to imagine what could befall many women in America if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe vs. Wade.

In 1963, he was a medical student working nights at Colorado General Hospital in Denver. Women would arrive in septic shock, some probably hours from death. “Nobody talked about why they were there,” Hern recalled.


When these women needed abortion care, they turned to Colorado

Nearby states have enacted abortion restrictions. But Colorado is still a ‘safe haven.’

NOVEMBER 5, 2021

With states like Texas imposing abortion restrictions, and concern that more will follow, a greater number of out-of-state women are coming to Colorado to seek abortions.

Historically, women have come from all over the country to Colorado, which is sometimes called a “safe haven“ for abortion, to get abortion care.


A Voice for Choice : It’s Time for Women to Reclaim the Narrative Around Later Abortions

By Mary Angeles Armstrong
January 1, 2021

It was hard—and it was something I just knew right away," remembers Jenn Chalifoux. She was 18 and on leave from college, at home in Long Island to receive treatment for anorexia, when she realized she was pregnant. Since a common side effect of anorexia is amenorrhea (a cessation of the menstrual cycle), missed periods didn't sound the alarm bell. She was surrounded by doctors, having blood work frequently, and on birth control. "It didn't even occur to me that I might [be pregnant]," she recalls. "My medical team thought my menstrual cycle would return as I progressed in my recovery." When it didn't, months into her treatment, Chalifoux took a pregnancy test at a friend's house. It came back positive and a follow-up appointment with her doctor revealed that she was well into her second trimester. It was a shock.


Why a NY woman came to Colorado for a 32-week abortion

Why a NY woman came to Colorado for a 32-week abortion
Forty-three states place some restrictions on abortions after a certain point in pregnancy, but Colorado isn’t one of them

By Anna Staver, The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: October 13, 2019

In the spring of 2016, Erika Christensen and her husband walked past a tall, wooden fence that obscured the Boulder office of Dr. Warren Hern from the street and into his waiting room.

Printed signs taped to bulletproof glass told her all electronic devices — even cellphones — were prohibited and asked her to tell someone on staff if she needed to leave for any reason. The only items she could carry through the door were a printed book, her identification card and a check for $10,000.


USA – The First Time Women Shouted Their Abortions

The First Time Women Shouted Their Abortions
Fifty years ago, a group of women stood up in a church and talked about ending their pregnancies. The way they did so still shapes how we discuss the topic today.

By Nona Willis Aronowitz
March 23, 2019

You couldn’t just casually threaten suicide — you had to sound like you meant it, the woman onstage recalled. “You have to go and bring a razor, or whatever: ‘If you don’t tell me I’m going to have an abortion right now, I’m going to go out and jump off the Verrazzano Bridge.’”

The woman was speaking in 1969. Legalized abortion nationwide was still four years away; in New York, so-called therapeutic abortions were legal — but only if a doctor judged you mentally unfit to have a child. And so, the woman explained, she ended up seeing two psychiatrists who, to her relief, deemed her suicide threats real enough to be granted the procedure. The crowd clapped and roared at the absurdity of it all, until the woman explained that after her abortion, she was stuck in the maternity ward to recover — right next to crying babies. The crowd wasn’t laughing anymore.


USA – It’s Both Difficult and Incredibly Important to Make the Case for Third-Trimester Abortions

It’s Both Difficult and Incredibly Important to Make the Case for Third-Trimester Abortions

By Christina Cauterucci
Feb 01, 2019

Conservative politicians and right-wing activists have targeted a Virginia state legislator this week and in the process reignited a nationwide debate about third-trimester abortions. Delegate Kathy Tran’s bill, which was tabled by a House of Delegates subcommittee this week, would have loosened some restrictions on second- and third-trimester abortions, which are legal in the state under specific circumstances. Though the legislation has been proposed in previous sessions—and though it never made it to the House floor for a vote this go-round—anti-abortion advocates are using it to paint pro-choice Democrats as supporters of, as Sen. Marco Rubio put it in a tweet, “legal infanticide.”


New York abortion law: Why are so many people talking about it?

New York abortion law: Why are so many people talking about it?

By George Pierpoint BBC News, Washington
28 January 2019

On the 46th anniversary of the landmark US ruling that made abortion legal, New York state signed into law a new abortion rights bill. Why is it so controversial?

The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) has been seen by some as a necessary move to safeguard abortion rights should the Supreme Court overturn the ruling, known as Roe v Wade.


Roe v. Wade is at risk, but abortion rights groups see surprising opportunities for gains

Roe v. Wade is at risk, but abortion rights groups see surprising opportunities for gains
The Kavanaugh confirmation battle has Americans ready to fight for abortion access, advocates say.

By Anna North
Jan 22, 2019

The most surprising thing about the abortion rights movement in 2019 is the optimism.

The potential deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade sits on the Supreme Court. A wave of strict anti-abortion laws are passing in states from Ohio to Mississippi. In the midst of a government shutdown, Republicans in Congress put forth a bill to shore up restrictions on federal funding for abortions (it failed).