But the truth is, we are already two separate countries.
While some states, including California and New York, have laws protecting abortion rights, the laws in Mississippi are designed to make abortion hard to get and to make clinics like mine harder to operate. There are now five states with just one remaining abortion clinic, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
Abortion is absolutely a racial and economic justice issue. A large majority of our patients are Black women like me. The legislatures passing these laws in Mississippi and other Southern states are mostly male and predominantly white. The laws are inherently racist and classist; they keep Black and brown people down. And the research is clear: A woman who is denied an abortion is more likely to live in poverty even years later.
People who can afford to fly many states over are able to avoid this spider web of laws. Many of the women who can’t afford that, who manage to make it through our doors, have spent every penny they have and driven for hours, and had to take time off work and find the money for gas, a hotel and child care — only to have to force their way through a pack of protesters shouting “whore” and “murderer.”
But what really haunts me are the women I never see — the ones who can’t make it here.
The ability to control your own body and future should not depend on where you live, who you are and how much money you make. But state lawmakers have made that our reality. And if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, this inequality will be hugely magnified.
We need the federal government to put an end to this assault on our rights. We need it to protect abortion access everywhere, for everyone.
On Tuesday, members of Congress reintroduced a bill that would do exactly that — the Women’s Health Protection Act. The bill, which was first introduced in 2013 but has never been passed, would protect against state laws like Mississippi’s two-trip requirement and 15-week ban. It would do so by creating a statutory right for health care providers to deliver abortion care and a right for patients to receive that care without medically unnecessary restrictions.
If this legislation becomes law, abortion access will be protected in every state. The law would surely face stiff legal pushback from Mississippi and other anti-abortion states, but Congress has passed laws protecting health care access, and this one should be treated no differently.