California Sets the Pace as America’s Abortion Sanctuary State | Society | America Edition

Up to 36 million women of reproductive age look with concern at the map of the United States to find out where they will have the right to abortion guaranteed after the Supreme Court revoked this Friday the sentence that protected it constitutionally since 1973.

In the US, 16 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, previously had their own legislative framework to safeguard the right to abortion without federal interference, either during a large part of the pregnancy or under the criterion of “good medical faith.”

They are ‘sanctuary’ states for abortion such as Vermont and Massachusetts, where even having Republican governors this right will be shielded, or Michigan, which has already announced that it would take a 1931 law to court (prior to the ‘Roe v. Wade’ precedent) to prevent interruptions of pregnancy from being prohibited.

Although in these states it is not expected that the right to abortion will be affected after the legal setback of the Supreme Court, the facilities to access the clinics and pay the expenses derived from the process are not always as affordable as in California, a standard in reproductive matters .

In the country’s most populous state, with almost 40 million inhabitants, more than 154,000 legal abortions were performed in 2020 out of the national total of 930,060, according to the Guttmacher Institute, dedicated to research on reproductive issues in the US.

“The people here believe that this right should be guaranteed to them as part of their health system,” Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the aforementioned institute, explained to Efe.

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In California, it is legal to abort following the criterion of “good medical faith” which, although it does not establish an exact term, only contemplates prohibiting the interruption of pregnancy if the 23rd week has been reached or if the fetus weighs approximately 500 grams, since then it is considered that it could survive outside the uterus.

The interruption of pregnancy is contemplated in the different health insurance plans, it can be paid on a co-payment basis in which the surrogate mother pays between one thousand and two thousand five hundred dollars and can be free for women with low incomes.

In this context, experts predict that the trips of women with the intention of having an abortion will grow exponentially after the presumable limitation of the right to abortion in up to 26 states after the decision of the High Court.

The Center for Reproductive Health, Law and Policy at the University of California (UCLA) estimates that between 8,000 and 16,000 women will travel to this state each year to be able to have abortions from now on.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom (Democratic Party), announced that he will allocate an additional allocation of 125 million dollars to offer health coverage, transportation and accommodation to those women from other states who opt for a Californian clinic to have an abortion.

“California has experienced an economic surplus in recent years that could allow it to pay for these new abortions,” said Mary Ziegler, legal historian at UCLA, in an interview with Efe.

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This flow of women to California is a “disruptive element”, according to specialists such as Elizabeth Nash herself, but the reproductive centers of this state have been working in the last month to adapt so that their clinics are not saturated or interventions are delayed.

Planned Parenthood, the organization with the largest number of reproductive health clinics in the US, continues in this work.

Its community affairs manager, Claudia Powell, assured Efe that they have almost restructured all of the 100 centers they have located in California.

THE ROLE OF FAMILY PLANNING CLINICS

In the process prior to making the decision to have an abortion, family planning clinics such as Claris Health play a fundamental role, where abortions are not performed but other health and psychological care services are provided to both pregnant women and those who decide to terminate their pregnancy.

“We try to get them to make a decision being sure of themselves because sometimes the step (to continue the pregnancy or abort) is taken in a hurry or under pressure,” the executive director of Claris Health, Talitha Phillips, told Efe, who openly acknowledged who had an abortion when she was young.

Good proof of the neutrality of these clinics is the case of Mónica Méndez (30 years old), a patient who went to Claris Health in 2018 to receive therapy before having an abortion, finally chose to have the baby and ended up working in this same health center.

IN SEARCH OF EQUALITY FOR LATINOS AND UNDOCUMENTED

California is one of the states where abortion protection has more guarantees, but in this “oasis of reproductive freedom” there is still the pending issue of expanding its health coverage to all Latin American women and undocumented migrants.

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In fact, the Democratic Party has proposed an amendment to the California Constitution so that under no circumstances can the state prohibit abortion or deny the prescription of contraceptives to any woman who is on Californian soil.

And it is that undocumented Latinas and migrants must overcome obstacles to access reproductive health services because they do not have health insurance or because of the language barrier, Laura Jiménez, executive director of the organization California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, explained to Efe.

He assured, for example, that many women who live in rural areas suffer family discrimination if they decide to have an abortion and also have difficulty doing so, because only 40% of California counties have abortion centers, and most are concentrated in urban areas. from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento or Oakland.

Associations in favor of abortion and other civil organizations such as Access Reproductive Justice are now striving to “offer financial and legal support in a bilingual format” to these women so that they also feel that California is that sanctuary for reproductive rights in which other states look at each other. .

William Azabal

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