December 2, 2023

For many Americans, access to health care services is a challenge, from finding doctors who are available and accept insurance to paying the increased costs out of their own pocket. But one category of medical service has become more difficult to access: reproductive health care.

With the last US Supreme Court Dobbs vs Jackson Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that effectively established a constitutional right to abortion, abortion rights policies were front and center in the United States.

But beyond the important questions about reproductive rights and bodily autonomy raised by the court’s decision, many women now face an even more pressing question: How will they get the medical care they need?

Mississippi law at the Supreme Court Center prohibited abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities.

With abortion rights now returning to states based on court ruling, several states are similarly mandating Strict restrictions and narrow exceptions.

Arkansas law resulting from the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade prohibits abortions entirely, with the only exception to protect the mother’s life in a medical emergency. Kentucky had a law in place making abortion services illegal except to prevent death or permanent injury to the mother. Likewise, Louisiana prohibited abortion unless there was a significant risk of death or disability of the woman. South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and others have also banned abortion with narrow exceptions to save the mother’s life and in some cases to prevent serious, significant, and irreversible disability of the mother.

These and other potentially followed rules may make it difficult for women facing pregnancy complications to obtain needed care, depending on how medical exceptions are formulated and how their complications are interpreted.

For Kat Aronofsky, 37, a PR account manager in the Greater Boston area, the abortion likely saved her life.

In February 2020, Aronofsky was seven weeks pregnant when an ultrasound detected no heartbeat; The fetus died. Her body didn’t recognize the loss, so she needed Dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove it.

Pregnant back in August 2020, Aronofsky requested an ultrasound. Although she wasn’t experiencing any unusual symptoms, she says she just felt like something was wrong. The survey revealed that Aronofsky was right. she had ectopic pregnancyA pregnancy in which a fetus implants outside the uterus where a fertilized egg cannot survive.

In Aronofsky’s case, the ectopic pregnancy was on the verge of rupture. Within an hour of the ultrasound, she was taken to the hospital for surgery to remove the fetus, along with her left fallopian tube.

An obstetrician told Aronofsky that listening to her bowel — ordering an ultrasound a week before she was due — saved her life because of the size, age of the pregnancy and how close it was to a rupture.

After nearly three years of infertility, Aronofsky is now seven months pregnant with a healthy baby boy thanks to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Through genetic testing, Aronofsky’s health care team determined that seven of nine fetuses had genetic abnormalities incompatible with life. This insight prevented further loss and Aronofsky’s heartache, but in the wake of Dobbs’ ruling, standard fertility treatment methods may now be in place. obscure legal area.

Aronofsky hopes that there will be wider recognition of the role that reproductive services play after an unwanted pregnancy is terminated.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that [Supreme Court] “The decision doesn’t just affect those who don’t want to get pregnant,” Aronofsky said. “It has the power to overturn and destroy those who desperately desire to bring a child into this world.”

Shedding new light on abortion care

As Americans try to understand the implications of Dobbs’ decision, a new podcast aims to take abortion care to the human level.

Today, the Population Media Center released a new 10-part audio series, cross the lineto highlight, through first-person stories, the barriers people face when trying to access abortion services.

The project began before the latest court ruling, but its creator says the launch could not be at any time.

said Lisa Caruso, president of American content for the Population Media Center and creator of Crossing the Line. “More than policy experts debating the pros and cons, we wanted to put the public in the people’s shoes to understand what is happening on a daily basis and how difficult it is to get to what should be a human right protected by our constitution.”

When Texas imposed a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected and Dobbs’ case reached the Supreme Court, Caruso said she sent field producers to various states to capture developments as they were happening in real time. Hearing from workers in clinics and abortion funds, they realize that people are crossing state lines to get the care they need.

The team was on the ground in Texas and Michigan when the Roe v. Wade case overturned.

“The devastating blow to those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring safe access to abortion care was evident,” Caruso said.

Even before the decision, Caruso said she and her team knew that accessing abortion services was particularly challenging for people of color, young adults, low-income people, and members of the LGBTQI community.

“Now that Roe is flipped, the situation is even more dangerous,” she said. “The climate of fear that now hangs over people who need abortions or have abortions is a new obstacle that people must overcome.”

Caruso said she hopes the podcast will help increase the conversation, de-stigmatize abortion care, and make sure people know how to find the health care services they need.

“There are many reasons why families and individuals seek abortion,” she said. “They are all valid.”

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