Home Health How do they work on state abortion bans?

How do they work on state abortion bans?

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How do they work on state abortion bans?

This week, Time published a story about a 13-year-old girl in Mississippi who, thanks to the state’s new abortion ban, had to give birth shortly before entering seventh grade.

The story highlights how increasingly difficult it has become to obtain abortions in many parts of the country, even for those considered exempt from many of the strictest state laws.

According to Time, the girl’s mother says she was raped by a stranger in their front yard last fall and that police were contacted in January after the girl was hospitalized for vomiting but found out she was pregnant . But while Mississippi’s strict abortion ban allows exceptions in cases of rape reported to police, the state’s only abortion clinic closed its doors in July 2022.

Because Mississippi is surrounded by states that have also banned the procedure in most cases, the closest abortion provider was in Chicago — more than 600 miles (about a nine-hour drive) from the girl’s home in Clarksdale, Miss. The trip, plus the time off, was something her mother could not afford, forcing the girl to become a mother herself at the age of 13.

Protesters outside the Supreme Court during the Women’s March on June 24. (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP)

Twenty-one states have banned or restricted abortion since the Supreme Court decided to overturn it Roe v. Wade in June 2022, abolishing the constitutional right to abortion. Many of these state laws have exceptions, including provisions for victims of rape and incest, or for expectant mothers whose lives are in danger.

But even in states where abortion providers still exist, there are many barriers to taking advantage of such exemptions, often requiring women to prove their eligibility.

“For some, it will all be so exhausting that it may feel hopeless,” says Michele Goodwin, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and author of Monitoring the uterus, previously told Yahoo News.

Yahoo News spoke with Goodwin and other experts in May 2022 about the challenges women may face navigating the exceptions to new state abortion bans.

Most sexual crimes go unreported

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, Goodwin noted at the time that more than two in three sexual assaults go unreported to police. Many victims say their silence is due to fear of retaliation and social stigma.

“As they go through all of these things, they may not be able to meet the state’s timeline of when they can terminate a pregnancy,” Goodwin said. “So even if these exceptions exist, the current exemptions, as they are, do not create a dignified path to getting this type of health care.”

Even more barriers for minors

The process is even more challenging for minors, especially those who have been assaulted by their legal guardian. Goodwin further noted that many young girls may not have the financial resources to navigate the legal bureaucracy.

“Imagine a situation where you now have to get permission from your father, the person who raped you, in order to get the abortion, or you have to go to court and find a judge and set up a schedule to be able to do this “, she said.

How do you determine when the mother’s life is in danger?

In addition to rape and incest, many state abortion bans also include exceptions in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. But Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio, head of equity transformation at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Yahoo News last year that the language around such health-based exceptions is typically vague and difficult to enforce.

“There are no clear lines anywhere that say someone crosses from one threshold to another, and now suddenly their life is in danger,” Villavicencio said. “As medical experts, as doctors, as people who work every day to save lives, we do everything we can to prevent you from getting to a point where your life is in danger, and sometimes that means terminating a pregnancy that could endanger your life. at risk.”

Villavicencio said she worries that doctors in states with strict anti-abortion laws will not be able to prioritize the health of their patients. Instead, they will have to think about the law and wait until a patient’s life is in danger before performing surgery. necessary abortion, for fear of losing their license or possibly facing criminal penalties.

“People are going to get much, much sicker, and sometimes they’re going to get so sick that there’s no intervention we can do to bring them back,” she said. “That’s why we talk about these laws as life-threatening, because they really are.”

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