07 Oct Opinion | Itâs 2040. We Need to Keep Abortion Legal in Ne…
To solve this problem, most so-called abortion states adopted legislation restricting access to publicly funded abortions. Under these new laws, only permanent state residents could seek pregnancy terminations at publicly funded hospitals or clinics. This echoed the solution of 1970s America, when three of the four states allowing legal abortions restricted access to state residents. At the time, New York was the only state allowing nonresidents to seek these services â but without help from Medicaid or the stateâs public hospitals.
That these laws disproportionately affected black women is evident from the figures of 70 years ago: Seven out of 10 residents receiving the service were black, but eight out of 10 nonresidents were white. In other words, the woman of color who could not afford the private doctor, the travel or the follow-up care most likely stayed home and tried to take care of things herself, making her chance of death 12 times more likely than it would be for a white woman. Even when she could afford the travel and private care, the inevitable delays â in booking a long-distance appointment, arranging leave from work or childcare, finding a discreet place to stay and anticipating the aftermath without local medical help â made her far more likely to seek termination after the 12th week of pregnancy and experience life-threatening complications.
Travel is much cheaper today, in 2040, than it was in 1970, and the procedure itself is a one-hour office visit that many abortion providers offer on a sliding scale. And we have watched as state by state, the rest of the country has slowly adopted the same laws as those original seven states, prosecuting women who return from a procedure undergone in another state.
Rich or poor, these women canât go back home. Thatâs why New Yorkâs decision, in 2032, to require six monthsâ residency before seeking to terminate a pregnancy has done almost nothing to stem the tide of women â many of whom are already mothers â moving here from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and, most recently, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The residency requirement means that access to abortion hinges completely on wealth. Women with the means to establish residency as a safety net can easily buy condos in Manhattan or Cold Spring. Women who can scrape together a few hundred dollars to self-fund their abortion but cannot afford a pied-Ã -terre are now completely out of luck.
Today, even with these draconian provisions on residency and public health funding, New York is the only mainland state still providing legal abortions. The state legislature now proposes joining the herd. S9764 gathers all the restrictions adopted by other states into one definitive bill: no abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother; sentences of up to five years for anyone found performing abortions; sentences of nine months and potential loss of custody of minor children for anyone undergoing an abortion.