Abortions could soon be history in many US states after the Supreme Court ruling. The German Lena P. has been living in the USA for several years and has aborted herself. How does she feel about the verdict?
The frustration can be heard from Lena P.*. “Someone who’s never been pregnant votes on abortion rights. Any old man decides what women can do with their bodies.” In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court overturned liberal abortion laws in the United States on Friday. This means that abortion laws can be tightened in the states, even including individual bans. Republican states such as Texas or Florida in particular have introduced stricter laws in recent months – as has Arizona, the state in which Lena P. lives.
The 38-year-old moved to the United States with her then-husband a few years ago and was shocked by Friday’s verdict, which also has repercussions for her home state. Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, signed legislation in March banning abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy. With the Supreme Court ruling, the law could come into force in the fall after a 90-day transition period. “This is a huge step backwards. Women’s rights are not the same as men’s in the US,” says P.
Above all, she fears that the verdict will drive an even bigger wedge in the already divided society. “One of the Republicans’ goals is to increase this drift, so the verdict comes as no surprise.” Especially the old Republicans like the parliamentary group leader Mitch McConnell are a thorn in P.’s side. “People have been sitting on the government benches for decades and we urgently need a breath of fresh air that isn’t so conservative.” There are many Republican supporters in her circle of friends, most of whom are still in favor of a relaxed abortion law. Her husband, also a self-confessed Republican, is against the verdict.
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The 38-year-old knows what she’s talking about. After separating from her first husband, she unexpectedly became pregnant as a single mother several years ago. “I worked three jobs to support myself and my daughter. I didn’t have any family in the US to help me and I had no choice but to have an abortion, even though I didn’t really want it. But a second one I just couldn’t have lifted the child on my own.” Many of her friends have also had abortions in recent years, which will hardly be possible in the future. The reason for the abortions is often the lack of support from the state. There is no child benefit in the USA, the fees for kindergarten are several hundred euros a month, and visits to the doctor are not always fully covered by health insurance.
During her time in the US, she also visited Planned Parenthood’s facilities. The non-profit organization operates over 650 clinics in the United States that offer medical advice in the areas of sexual medicine, gynecology and family planning. Abortions are also part of the organization’s portfolio, as well as prescribing the pill or an IUD. Conservative opponents of abortion often gather in front of the entrances to harass the patients. “Things are thrown at you on the spot, a tomato hit me on the head,” reports P.
She is concerned that access to contraceptives will now also be restricted. “This could make it almost impossible for the middle and lower classes to use contraception in the future.” Since 1965 there has been the landmark decision Griswold vs. Connecticut, which gave married couples access to contraceptives. During the Roe vs. Wade debate, a number of Republican lawmakers brought up a new decision in Griswold vs. Connecticut, including Marsha Blackburn, Republican Senator from Tennessee, and Blake Masters, Arizona Senate candidate for November’s election. Masters is supported by a senior Republican: Donald Trump.
But not only the abortion experience shaped P., but also the birth of her second daughter with her new husband. “There were complications during the pregnancy, my liver and kidneys failed and I had to go to the hospital,” she says. The doctors had advised her against another pregnancy, but she wonders what she should do if she becomes pregnant again. “The abortion is then almost impossible and with the Supreme Court ruling, the unborn fetus is worth more than the lives of a mother and her two children.”
*Editor’s note: Name has been changed by editors. The full name is known to the editors.