The US Supreme Court ruling overturning the nation’s abortion law has sped up preparations for an America where the procedure is illegal in many states.
“Birth control,” “IUD,” and even medical sterilization have all jumped up Internet search trends, and drugstore chains have limited purchases of so-called “morning after pills” to meet demand.
Three women spoke to AFP about how they have been making their own plans amid litigation over state abortion laws mounting across the country.
– stock up –
When the court last month overturned the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, Sarah Kratzer feared Texas would go beyond abortion and begin restricting access to emergency contraception.
Restricting birth control or the morning-after pill is a distant prospect, but one many people dread.
Kratz, 39, is a homemaker in San Antonio, Texas, the southern US state with some of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the country.
She told AFP she started stocking up on emergency contraceptive pills in May after a draft court opinion was leaked.
She received three packs of pills for free from a local rally of the nationwide Ban Our Bodies protest that she attended with one of her daughters. She also ordered several more packs from Walmart.
Although Scratch is no longer able to have children herself due to ill health, the pills she has been storing are for her three children, aged 15, 19 and 20.
“You still have the right to decide, ‘Yes, I want this child’ or ‘No, I don’t want this child,'” she told AFP.
Sex education is limited in some Texas public schools, so she also teaches her children how to track their ovulation cycles and use spermicide, and has purchased ovulation tests and pregnancy tests.
Emergency contraceptive pills have a shelf life of three to four years, and scratches hopes those who stock them and many others will give the United States enough time to restore abortion rights — though that may seem unlikely.
If not, “I’ll go to other countries and pick up (emergency contraception) and find a way to bring it back,” she said.
– spiral and moving abroad –
Kayla Pickett is also concerned about what other rights the Supreme Court could overturn beyond abortion.
“I have no idea what else they’re going to do,” the nursing student told AFP.
She and her boyfriend live in Akron, Ohio, a state that has banned abortion after six weeks. Pickett, 22, and her boyfriend, 21, plan to move to Colorado and then abroad next year.
“Me and my boyfriend are both African American,” Pickett said. “We want to be in a state where we have rights and know that if anything else happens, I and he will be fine.”
The couple had been discussing moving out of Ohio for the past few years, but the Supreme Court ruling prompted them to go one step further: “Once we (are) more financially stable, we plan to move out of the US,” she said .
Meanwhile, Pickett has joined others rushing to get an IUD (intra-uterine device). She began planning the procedure in May after the draft decision was leaked.
Pickett has been using hormonal birth control since she was 15, but wanted to switch to something more long-term if Ohio tries to roll back on birth control access as well.
Coils last five to ten years before needing to be replaced. Pickett had hers implanted at a local Planned Parenthood last week.
“I just want to be ready,” she said.
– sterilization –
When Meagan McKernan learned of the verdict, she felt horror, anger – but also “pure relief” that she had come up with a strategy.
She’s already started “tying off my hoses,” she explained. Her preoperative consultation is July 9th.
McKernan, 33, who works for an online auction company, doesn’t want children.
She had her first pregnancy scare in early May, around the same time the draft Supreme Court opinion on abortion was leaked, and recalls 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 like this again.”
McKernan admitted to being nervous about the procedure, but was also excited, confirming that her gynecologist was quick to agree with her decision.
She also acknowledged the “privilege” of having the financial flexibility to perform the procedure, which can cost up to $6,000 out of pocket, and living in a state where an optional tubal ligation is available.
McKernan lives in Connecticut, near the New York border, and acknowledges that she is in a relatively safe area when it comes to abortion rights. But she still feels a sense of urgency about her procedure.
“I don’t want any other possible right to choose what’s best for me to be taken away from me,” she said.
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