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Right to abortion threatened | California braces for patient influx

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(Los Angeles) California is preparing to welcome an influx of women seeking voluntary termination of pregnancy if the Supreme Court of the United States soon changes, as many expect, the legal framework that has guaranteed since 1973 the right to abortion.

Encouraged by Governor Gavin Newsom and other elected Democrats, some 40 civil rights, public health promotion and family planning organizations on Wednesday made a list of very specific recommendations for California to be able respond to requests for abortion from all women, whether they live in the state or elsewhere.

Governor Newsom publicly welcomed the creation, at the end of September, of this “Council for the Future of Abortion” to “expand access to sexual and reproductive health, including abortion in the wake of restrictions. dangerous, harmful and unconstitutional implemented in Texas ”. This mostly conservative southern state, banned since 1er September abortions from six weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion rights advocates are now worried about another threat: the Supreme Court seems willing to give the green light to a law passed in 2018 by Mississippi that bans abortion after 15 weeks of gestation.

This law violates the framework of the landmark “Roe v. Wade ”of 1973, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the United States Constitution guarantees the right of women to have an abortion as long as the fetus is not“ viable ”, that is to say around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and its entry into force has for the moment been blocked in this capacity.

If the temple of law, which must render its decision by the end of June, validates this local law, many other conservative states wishing to end abortion could leap into the breach.

Sign of the deep divide on the subject in the United States, Mississippi has only one center practicing pregnancy terminations while California, the most populous state, has more than 150.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Mississippi, 26 US states would decide “certainly or probably” to ban abortion in their territory.

In fact, if the “Roe v. Wade ”was broken or“ significantly weakened ”, 21 states already have laws or amendments in place that would allow them to act very quickly, underlines this research institute on reproductive health.

Consequence: tens of thousands of women unable to have an abortion at home would seek a solution in neighboring states, which would risk being overwhelmed.

“Reproductive freedom” for all

On the ground, associations are already feeling the effects of the ban decreed in Texas in early September. The family planning network in California, for example, now sees two to three patients arriving every day from Texas.

The Californian NGO Access Reproductive Justice, which provides administrative and financial assistance to women wishing to have an abortion, also reports a “rise in calls from Texas”. “We know that the obstacles tend to be greater for people who do not come from California because they have to pay for the plane or the bus,” Jessica Pinckney, director of the NGO, told AFP.

She cites “often poignant cases of women who did not realize they were pregnant for six or seven weeks, who do not have access to health care in their state and who cannot benefit from their insurance to cover the cost.” », Which can vary according to her from 200 to 6000 dollars depending on the case.

“Globally, they are forced to carry out an unwanted pregnancy or to take radical decisions to leave their state”, deplores Mme Pinckney.

Democratic stronghold and spearhead of the opposition to the ultraconservative policies of former President Donald Trump, California officially proclaimed itself in May 2019 as a state guaranteeing “reproductive freedom” for all, solemnly pledging to defend the law to abortion.

Already in 2014, it had adopted legislation obliging employers and private insurance companies to include reimbursement of abortions in their health coverage.

When Donald Trump tried to put pressure on California last year to cancel this provision, Governor Newsom denounced a “petty political act”, recalling that “women’s health is public health”.



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