US women prepare for what’s to come after abortion ruling

A security guard from an abortion clinic and abortion rights protesters confront an abortion protester outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, USA on July 6, 2022. Photo: IC

A security guard from an abortion clinic and abortion rights protesters confront an abortion protester outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, USA on July 6, 2022. Photo: IC

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the nationwide right to abortion prompted a rush to prepare for an America where the procedure is banned in many states.

“Birth control”, “intrauterine device (IUD)” and even medical sterilization have all jumped into the internet search trends, and pharmacy chains have limited purchases of so-called morning-after pills to deal with the demand.

Three women spoke to AFP about how they made their own plans as lawsuits over abortion laws escalate in states across the country.

Stock up

When the court rejected in June the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion across the United States, Sarah Kratzer was concerned that Texas would go further than abortion and begin access to emergency contraception.

Restricting birth control or morning-after pills is a distant prospect, but one that many people fear.

Kratzer, 39, is a homemaker in San Antonio, Texas, the southern U.S. state with some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country.

She told AFP she started taking emergency contraceptive pills in May, after a draft court opinion leaked.

She received three packets of pills for free from a local rally of the nationwide “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest, which she attended with one of her daughters. She also ordered several more packages at Walmart.

Although Kratzer can no longer have children herself for health reasons, the pills she has stored for her three children are – ages 15, 19 and 20.

“They still have the rights to decide: ‘Yes, I want this child’ or ‘No, I do not want this child’,” she told AFP.

Sex education is restricted in some public schools in Texas, so she also teaches her children how to track their ovulation cycles and use spermicides, and has purchased ovulation tests and pregnancy tests.

Emergency birth control pills have a shelf life of three to four years, and Kratzer hopes that those she and many others have accumulated will provide enough time for the U.S. to restore abortion rights – though that may be unlikely.

If not “I will go to other countries and pick [emergency contraception] on and to find a way to bring it back, “she said.

IUD, and moved abroad

Kayla Pickett is also concerned about what other rights the Supreme Court could overturn, other than abortion.

“Do not tell what they are going to do differently,” the nursing student told AFP.

She and her boyfriend live in Akron, Ohio, a state that banned abortion after six weeks. Pickett, 22, and her 21-year-old boyfriend plan to move to Colorado in 2023, and then to overseas.

“My boyfriend and I are both African-Americans,” Pickett said. “We want to be in a state where we have rights and know if anything else happens, he and I will be fine.”

The couple have been discussing moving out of Ohio for the past few years, but the Supreme Court ruling has prompted them to go a step further. “Once we [are] more financially stable, we plan to move out of the US, ”she said.

Meanwhile, Pickett has joined others who are in a hurry to get an IUD. She began making plans for the procedure in May, after the draft decision leaked.

Pickett has been using hormonal birth control since she was 15, but she wanted to switch to something more long-term in case Ohio also tried to turn back access to birth control.

IUDs last for five to 10 years before they need to be replaced. Pickett admitted her to a local Planned Parenthood last week.

“I just want to be ready,” she said.


When Meagan McKernan heard about the verdict, she felt terror, anger – but also “mere relief” that she had a strategy in place.

She has already begun the process of “tying my tubes,” she explained. Her preoperative consultation is on July 9th.

McKernan, 33, who works for an online auction company, does not want children.

She had her first pregnancy scare in early May, about the same time as the Supreme Court’s draft opinion on abortion leaked out, and remembers feeling “terrified”.

“The fact that my choices would be more limited scared me even more,” she told AFP.

“I need a permanent solution so I never have to feel that way again.”

McKernan admitted she felt nervous about the procedure, but was also excited and confirmed that her gynecologist quickly agreed with her decision.

She also acknowledged the “privilege” of having the financial flexibility to have the procedure, which can cost up to $ 6,000 out of pocket, and to live in a state where optional tubal ligation is accessible.

McKernan lives in Connecticut, near the border with New York, and admits she’s in a relatively safe area when it comes to abortion rights. But she still feels a sense of urgency around her procedure.

“I do not want any other possible right to choose what is best for me to be taken away,” she said.

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