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What an America Without Roe Would Look Like

The Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in June, may refrain from overturning Roe, or may craft a compromise in which abortions early in pregnancy remain protected. But many legal experts who watched the oral arguments say it is likely that Roe will be substantially weakened.

The women most affected in states with bans would be those who can’t easily travel. They are disproportionately poor, Black, Latina, teenagers, uninsured, and undocumented immigrants.

“Those most vulnerable will be left behind and be forced to carry pregnancies that they were not prepared for,” said Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion provider in North Dakota, which has a trigger law that would make abortion illegal without Roe.

As some states have tightened abortion restrictions in recent years, more organizations have helped women book and pay for flights or gas, hotels and child care. But their leaders say they do not have the capacity, in money or staff, to help the number of women who would need it in the South and Midwest if Roe fell.

One of these groups, Fund Texas Choice, received about 35 calls a month before Texas banned most abortions in September, and was able to help nearly everyone who called. Since then, it has had up to 300 callers a month, and has had to turn away half, said Anna Rupani, the group’s executive director. Seventy percent of its clients are people of color, and 60 percent are parents.

“It will be absolutely unsustainable if Roe is overturned,” she said.

Many of the states that would ban abortion also have the least social support for women and children, like robust access to family planning services or paid family leave, and have high levels of child poverty. Studies have found that being denied an abortion has economic effects that last years.

Some who oppose abortion say the next step is to create more of a safety net for poor mothers. “There has never been enough alternative help for women,” said Chuck Donovan, who has worked in the anti-abortion movement for decades, now as president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. “It’s something pro-lifers could agree to, even if it frustrates spending conservatives.”

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