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What might life look like in a post-Roe America?

A gynecology chair sits in a doctor's office.
Sean Gallup
Getty Images
A gynecology chair sits in a doctor's office.

Following the leaked Supreme Court decision that suggests Roe v. Wade will be overturned, many Americans of childbearing age are wondering what they can do now to prepare for that possibility.

Of course, reproductive healthcare providers on the front lines of this debate have been thinking about this for quite some time.

Robin Marty is the operations director for the West Alabama Women's Center, and the author of Handbook for a Post-Roe America. Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosely is a practicing OB-GYN and the CEO of Power to Decide, a sexual health and planning nonprofit. They both joined NPR's All Things Considered to provide some guidance on what reproductive healthcare might look like in the future, and how people can keep themselves informed and prepared if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

This interview has been lightly edited

On what would be immediately outlawed in states with trigger laws like Alabama, if Roe v. Wade is overturned:

Robin Marty: So I want to explain really quickly, that although half of the states are likely to have no access to legal abortion, there are very few states, even those with triggers, that will immediately be impacted by the ruling.

So it's a time period before something will go immediately into effect. For us [in Alabama], that's not the case. And that means that we have to be sure that if we have patients who are in for care, they will be in the waiting room, and we have to make sure that we have them either beginning the dilation process or already taking their pills before a decision comes down, which for us would be at 9am.

We usually have our patients in at eight, but we're moving our patients in even earlier on any day, that could potentially be a decision day, just to make sure that we can care for as many as possible before we can't anymore.

On what options a pregnant person has in an anti-abortion state:

Robin Marty: There are a number of different options that a person can undergo. Some of them involve trying to go to a clinic outside of their state. That requires research.

There are abortion funds and practical support groups that can help provide financial assistance and logistical support. But also, what we're seeing is that most people, especially in the South, have an immense amount of difficulty to be able to afford all of the bus tickets, plane tickets, time off of work. That's simply not going to be doable for a lot of them.

What to look for in an OB-GYN clinic to make sure it is legitimate and safe:

Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosely: So the first thing is to identify where you can go. We have a resource at Power To Decide called There's another resource called "I Need an A," and these have databases of reliable abortion clinics throughout the country.

Robin Marty: I agree with everything Raegan said. I would also like to say that reaching out to a local independent abortion clinic, just to ask questions, is definitely a thing that can be done. Abortion clinics are always going to be aware of what's going on in their region. As much as online sources are amazing, they are so hard to keep up to the minute up to date. If you have a question, just ask, that's what we're here for.

On finding a trustworthy doctor for getting an abortion or receiving aftercare:

Robin Marty: I actually put together a checklist of questions that people can ask their doctors. So it's a checklist that a person can go through and say, 'How do you feel about abortion?' 'If I asked for an abortion, would you make a referral?' It's an entire list of things that, frankly, doctors have to be vetted for at this point, because there are states where you cannot sue a doctor if they withhold information from you about your pregnancy. So we've already seen how abortion laws have completely undermined the doctor patient relationship. And that's only going to get worse once it's doctors and patients who could potentially end up in jail.

Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosely: I just wanted to chime in from a medical perspective and point out, realizing that someone may not have the opportunity to fully vet a provider, it's important to realize that if someone is having prolonged bleeding, or may need medical attention after having a medication abortion, with medications that they obtained themselves, or with the care of a provider, that very much looks like a miscarriage. So someone can potentially present to an emergency room and to their provider and say, 'I'm having cramping and bleeding, and I had a positive pregnancy test', and receive the care that they need without having to reveal that they have taken abortion medications.

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Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Michael Levitt
Michael Levitt is a news assistant for All Things Considered who is based in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science. Before coming to NPR, Levitt worked in the solar energy industry and for the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. He has also travelled extensively in the Middle East and speaks Arabic.
Mansee Khurana
[Copyright 2024 NPR]