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Bracing for the Roe v. Wade Decision


The Supreme Court could soon vote to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The 1973 case guarantees federal constitutional protections of abortion rights, but that could soon change.

Robin Marty is the director of operations at Alabama Women's Center Tuscaloosa. The abortion clinic is only one of three up and running in the state. She said the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade would change the abortion landscape not only in Alabama but across the country.

“At this point, Florida is the only state that has a constitutional right to an abortion, and that's already in jeopardy,” said Marty. “And if anybody challenges the 15-week ban that's about to go into effect in July, that could open it up for the state Supreme Court to say they don't have a right to an abortion either. If that happens, then there's no abortion from Texas all the way over, across to the coast.”

Pro-life and pro-choice groups are preparing for what life could look like post Roe v. Wade. Pro-life advocate Herb Geraghty with Rehumanize International said it would be a move in the right direction.

“This is a step to correct that wrong,” said Geraghty. “And to finally rule in favor of justice for the unborn. Because as it is now, Roe V. Wade does not allow state legislators to enact laws that their constituents actually want, which in many states is more protections for the unborn that Roe V. Wade does not allow for.”

Right now, there are only a handful of operating abortion clinics in the state. Alabama Women's Center Tuscaloosa is one of the longest running clinics in Alabama.

“There are three abortion clinics in Alabama right now. We are the one that provide about 50% of the abortions in the state,” said Marty. “There is one in Montgomery, Alabama, and they usually do provide services about once a week. There's also one up in Huntsville and that one is an abortion clinic that also is opened up a birthing center. And that's how it intends to stay open post-Roe.”

Pro-choice organizations say overturning Roe v. Wade would be a blow to human rights. But Geraghty said the unborn should be protected.

“I don't want people to see this as taking back a right, but rather expanding human rights and using this opportunity to meet the needs of women and families and people who can get pregnant that are currently not being met,” said Geraghty.

Geraghty says the pro-life movement doesn’t end with Roe v. Wade being overturned. In fact, he says, it’s just the beginning.

“I think right now in our current climate, we have a situation where the majority of abortions, according to pro-abortion and pro-choice,” Geraghty said, “statistics say that most people are choosing abortion because of financial coercion, essentially that they feel as though they can't afford another child, or they already have too many kids.”

Marty agrees it’s a hard climate for people to give birth in, and she said her clinic is working to help.

“Alabama only allows no cost birth control through county health departments. There is one in every county and the wait list is sometimes two, three months long in order to get in,” she said. “We want to be able to provide that for people and have been working for the last 18 months to get approved by Medicaid, by the state of Alabama, to get approved by insurers so that we can offer contraception to people who have insurance, but don't have their own doctors.”

Marty said she doesn’t think the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade will be the ultimate end to abortion services.

“I have always said that I did not expect abortion to ever be completely illegal in the United States, simply because of the fact that conservatives need it far too much to be able to get reelected,” Marty said.

Marty said there’s a political aspect to consider around abortion, which could mean even more changes following the possible fall of the Roe decision.

“I also think that when we are at a point where abortion is completely illegal, that probably means that all of the voter suppression tactics have failed because, or have succeeded because voter suppression is a reproductive justice issue. When you limit who can vote, how many people can get out to the polls, that's how you're able to gerrymander,” Marty said. “That's how you're able to get a United States where we have three Supreme court justices that were put into their seats by a president that didn't win a popular election. So, the more that you see the right pushing to end all abortion it's because they think they don't need it. And if they think they don't need it, it's because they think they figured out how to win elections, even if they don't have the most votes.”

There’s been no official word on when the justices could decide on revoking Roe v. Wade, but cases are still being taken up through July.

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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