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Follow the links in this story to recent AP coverage about abortion over the last three months.
And so the interminable wait after the leak of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade has come to an end — nearly three months in which abortion and all of its complexities have been have been hashed and rehashed, while the U.S. Supreme Court was silent.
Throughout, much of the focus was on who would suffer the most if abortion was widely illegal. One answer was minority women in states where the procedure was imperiled; they were more likely to have abortions than were white women.
Another was those in need of other care — women who miscarry, couples seeking fertility treatments and access to some forms of contraception, and might be collateral damage of abortion bans.
Women were already traveling long distances in Texas to undergo abortions, a foretaste of what might be expected in a post-Roe world; the result could be that women will wait longer to have abortions than they would otherwise.
And what of the children that will be born and not aborted? Many of the states with the toughest abortion laws are also some of the hardest places to have and raise a healthy child, especially for the poor, offering the least support to parents.
But in the course of this interlude, the focus was not just on the women or the children. There were fears expressed by some that other rights — birth control and same-sex marriage, among them — might be imperiled by Roe’s demise (and in the end, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested just that ). Advocates pressed to secure those rights.
In a time of polarization, few issues were more polarizing. Even among religious groups that held strong stands on abortion, there was fragmentation; anti-abortion Catholics were not monolithic in their support for overturning Roe, and there were devout Christians working in abortion clinics, even as others demonstrated against them outside.
As the weeks ticked by without a Supreme Court ruling, operators of abortion clinics planned for a future they had long feared — a time when the service they provided would be illegal.
Meanwhile, the pro-rights resistance prepared to take on a larger role, unsure of whether it could handle the increased demand of pregnant women who needed to cross state lines to get a legal abortion. On the other side, activists who had fought against abortion for decades could only hope that their prayers were finally being answered.
And when they were, there were tears.
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