Abortion Foes,Supporters Map Next Moves06/26 08:28
A Texas group that helps women pay for abortions halted its efforts Saturday
while evaluating its legal risk under a strict state ban. Mississippi's only
abortion clinic continued to see patients while awaiting a 10-day notice that
will trigger a ban. Elected officials across the country vowed to take action
to protect women's access to reproductive health care, and abortion foes
promised to take the fight to new arenas.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (AP) -- A Texas group that helps women pay for abortions
halted its efforts Saturday while evaluating its legal risk under a strict
state ban. Mississippi's only abortion clinic continued to see patients while
awaiting a 10-day notice that will trigger a ban. Elected officials across the
country vowed to take action to protect women's access to reproductive health
care, and abortion foes promised to take the fight to new arenas.
A day after the Supreme Court's bombshell ruling overturning Roe v. Wade
ended the constitutional right to abortion, emotional protests and prayer
vigils turned to resolve as several states enacted bans and both supporters and
opponents of abortion rights mapped out their next moves.
In Texas, Cathy Torres, organizing manager for Frontera Fund, a group that
helps pay for abortions, said there is a lot of fear and confusion in the Rio
Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border, where many people are in the country
without legal permission.
That includes how the state's abortion law, which bans the procedure from
conception, will be enforced. Under the law, people who help patients get
abortions can be fined and doctors who perform them could face life in prison.
"We are a fund led by people of color, who will be criminalized first,"
Torres said, adding that abortion funds like hers that have paused operations
hope to find a way to safely restart. "We just really need to keep that in mind
and understand the risk."
Tyler Harden, Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said
she spent Friday and Saturday making sure people with impending appointments at
the state's only abortion clinic -- which featured in the Supreme Court case
but is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood -- know they don't have to cancel
them right away. Abortions can still take place until 10 days after the state
attorney general publishes a required administrative notice.
Mississippi will ban the procedure except for pregnancies that endanger the
woman's life or those caused by rape reported to law enforcement. The
Republican speaker of the Mississippi House, Philip Gunn, said during a news
conference Friday that he would oppose adding an exception for incest. "I
believe that life begins at conception," Gunn said.
Harden said she has been providing information about funds that help people
travel out of state to have abortions. Many in Mississippi already were doing
so even before the ruling, but that will become more difficult now that
abortions have ended in neighboring states like Alabama. Right now Florida is
the nearest "safe haven" state, but Harden said, "we know that that may not be
the case for too much longer."
At the National Right to Life convention in Atlanta, a leader within the
anti-abortion group warned attendees Saturday that the Supreme Court's decision
ushers in "a time of great possibility and a time of great danger."
Randall O'Bannon, the organization's director of education and research,
encouraged activists celebrate their victories but stay focused and continue
working on the issue. Specifically, he called out medication taken to induce
"With Roe headed for the dustbin of history, and states gaining the power to
limit abortions, this is where the battle is going to be played out over the
next several years," O'Bannon said. "The new modern menace is a chemical or
medical abortion with pills ordered online and mailed directly to a woman's
Protests broke out for a second day in cities across the country, from Los
Angeles to Oklahoma City to Jackson, Mississippi.
In the LA demonstration, one of several in California, hundreds of people
marched through downtown carrying signs with slogans like "my body, my choice"
and "abort the court."
Turnout was smaller in Oklahoma City, where about 15 protesters rallied
outside the Capitol. Oklahoma is one of 11 states where there are no providers
offering abortions, and it passed the nation's strictest abortion law in May.
"I have gone through a wave of emotions in the last 24 hours. ... It's
upsetting, it's angry, it's hard to put together everything I'm feeling right
now," said Marie Adams, 45, who has had two abortions for ectopic pregnancies,
where a fertilized egg is unable to survive. She called the issue "very
personal to me."
"Half the population of the United States just lost a fundamental right,"
Adams said. "We need to speak up and speak loud."
Callie Pruett, who volunteered to escort patients into West Virginia's only
abortion clinic before it stopped offering the procedure after Friday's ruling,
said she plans to work in voter registration in the hope of electing officials
who support abortion rights. The executive director of Appalachians for
Appalachia added that her organization also will apply for grants to help
patients get access to abortion care, including out of state.
"We have to create networks of people who are willing to drive people to
Maryland or to D.C.," Pruett said. "That kind of local action requires
organization at a level that we have not seen in nearly 50 years."
Fellow West Virginian Sarah MacKenzie, 25, said she's motivated to fight for
abortion access by the memory of her mother, Denise Clegg, a passionate
reproductive health advocate who worked for years at the state's clinic as a
nurse practitioner and died unexpectedly in May. MacKenzie plans to attend
protests in the capital, Charleston, and donate to a local abortion fund.
"She would be absolutely devastated. She was so afraid of this happening --
she wanted to stop it," Mackenzie said, adding, "I'll do everything in my power
to make sure that this gets reversed."
The Supreme Court's ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly
half the states.
Since the decision, clinics have stopped performing abortions in Arizona,
Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia and
Wisconsin. Women considering abortions already had been dealing with the
near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in
In Ohio, a ban on most abortions from the first detectable fetal heartbeat
became law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had kept the
measure on hold for nearly three years.
Another law with narrow exceptions was triggered in Utah by Friday's ruling.
Planned Parenthood Association of Utah filed a lawsuit against it in state
court and said it would request a temporary restraining order, arguing it
violates the state constitution.
Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, where abortion remains legal, signed an
executive order shielding people seeking or providing abortions in his state
from facing legal consequences in other states. Walz also has vowed to reject
requests to extradite anyone accused of committing acts related to reproductive
health care that are not criminal offenses in Minnesota.
"My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation
that would reverse reproductive freedom," he said.
In Fargo, North Dakota, the state's sole abortion provider faces a 30-day
window before it would have to shut down and plans to move across the river to
Minnesota. Red River Women's Clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker said Saturday that
she has secured a location in Moorhead and an online fundraiser to support the
move has brought in more than half a million dollars in less than three days.
Republicans sought to downplay their excitement about winning their
decades-long fight to overturn Roe, aware that the ruling could energize the
Democratic base, particularly suburban women. Carol Tobias, president of
National Right to Life, said she expects abortion opponents to turn out in huge
numbers this fall.
But Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said Saturday he believes the
issue will energize independents and he hopes to translate anger over Roe's
demise into votes.
"Any time you take half the people in Wisconsin and make them second-class
citizens," Evers said, "I have to believe there's going to be a reaction to