north carolina’s new law could make travelling for abortion impossible for southern residents
As lawmakers in both North and South Carolina work to impose new abortion restrictions, the procedure for some women in the South could become impossible soon.
An abortion ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy will come into effect in North Carolina on July 1. Although Governor Roy Cooper had turned down the legislation, the state’s Republican-led Assembly voted Tuesday to override his decision.
Also on Tuesday, the South Carolina House of Representatives approved an abortion ban after six weeks of pregnancy, which now advances to the state Senate.
Furthermore, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill last month that would criminalise most abortions after six weeks. The bill will come into effect if Florida’s Supreme Court maintains its current 15-week ban in an ongoing legal procedure.
A number of Americans will now be compelled to continue pregnancies against their wish, said Amy Hagstrom Miller from Whole Woman’s Health, which operates abortion clinics in Indiana, Minnesota, Maryland, New Mexico, and Virginia.
The ban in North Carolina allows exceptions for “life-limiting” foetal anomalies, incest, and rape. But supporters of the legislation argue it offers a compromise on the procedure.
Diminishing Options For Women
Virginia could soon become the last US state in the South without abortion restrictions. Nevertheless, even before the 12-week ban was announced in North Carolina, Miller said her abortion clinics in Virginia were seeing patients from across the South.
But not all of those patients make it to her clinics. Miller said a lot of people cancel their appointments, often because of factors that prevent them from travelling, such as a ride falling through or a child getting sick.
But the upcoming ban on July 1 will likely worsen the situation for a number of women.
Amber Gavin from A Woman’s Choice, which operates three clinics in North Carolina, said her clinics were already witnessing wait times of almost 10 days.
She added those durations will likely get longer once the ban goes into effect – even if patient volume drops – because the new rules require an in-person visit three days prior to the procedure and make it compulsory for all abortions, even those involving pills, to be carried out in person.
Her clinics in North Carolina frequently see patients from South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Come July 1, the centres will start referring women more than 12 weeks pregnant to clinics in Washington, Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia, she added.
The Brigid Alliance now appears to be the only remaining option. The service provides food, lodging, travel, child care, and other logistical support for Americans wanting an abortion. Clinics and providers can refer their patients to the service, which receives funding from private donors.
In the longer term, however, experts and political leaders fear there could be an exodus of medical professionals from states with abortion bans, which would potentially further limit access to both abortions and maternal health care for Southern residents.
Such states might even struggle to attract new medical talent if they start being seen as hostile to reproductive health care, said Dr. Catherine Kuhn from Duke University School of Medicine.