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What would happen if SCOTUS banned abortion? Look at Texas during COVID

June 25, 2020

A photo of the nine Supreme Court Justices, in teal duotone

On Monday, the Supreme Court’s ruled in June Medical Services v. Russo, a case that could have devastated abortion access. The news was good for abortion access, for now.

But what if the news out of SCOTUS had been bad?

Unfortunately, we have a pretty good idea of what that world will be like.  We’ve just lived through a nightmare scenario in Texas when our state exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to ban abortion for nearly six weeks this spring. Texans who needed abortions during this time were forced to put their lives and health at risk just to access healthcare. 

Waiting longer. Our clients had to make appointments with providers out-of-state and faced long wait times. This pushed them further into their pregnancies, making procedures more expensive.

Traveling. On average, our clients had to travel 606 miles to access abortion care. One client traveled 1,610 miles—even though she lives just three miles away from her local clinic. Many were forced to travel by plane—putting them at greater risk of COVID-19 exposure.  

Being alone. Those who managed to travel out of state were stuck in hotels for 3-4 days, isolated from family and friends. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, many clinics had a “no companion” rule to limit the number of people in the clinic at any given time. This means patients were going through it on their own. 

Paying more. While procedures were more expensive for many, there were also other factors that drove up costs. Travel, finding childcare, lodging, and other factors meant the cost of accessing  a clinic at all was higher. In the midst of the bans, the average amount we gave to clients was $355,  a 17 percent increase from our 2019 average. 

For those weeks when anti-choice state leaders exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to ban abortion, we experienced a Texas where abortion access is decimated. We hope we never see that again. But depending on the Supreme Court ruling, we could be living this reality again sometime soon. 

Looking at this, we are reminded that Roe has never been enough to ensure access to safe abortion care, especially for low-income communities of color. No matter the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June Medical or any other case, we must always show up for our communities. 

Rest assured that abortion funds are not going anywhere. No matter what happens, our work won’t stop, our hotline will stay open, and we will still be here for Texans who need abortion care no matter what that looks like. 

Funding abortion is an act of resistance. If you are able, make a donation to Lilith Fund today.

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