What is the path forward in a post-Roe world?

By Katie Harbinson

With the fall of Roe v Wade upon us, we must begin to envision a world without equitable abortion access. In Oklahoma, we have a terrifying view of what is to come; just last month, the state enacted a total abortion ban with very few exceptions. This ban is the strictest in the country and claims that life begins at the moment of conception. While there are exceptions for incest or sexual assault, the survivor must have a police report on file to obtain an abortion. Given how underreported sexual violence is, this requirement effectively nullifies these exceptions. 

Oklahoma has also copied the bounty hunting clause of Texas’ SB-8, allowing citizens to file suit against those believed to be assisting with abortions in any capacity. If a vigilante lawsuit is successful, the plaintiffs are awarded $10,000 and legal fees. Meanwhile, if the defendant wins the lawsuit, they are unable to recoup any fees associated with the suit. The impact of this vigilante clause is heartbreaking—patients are afraid to seek miscarriage management and providers are turning away patients experiencing complications after miscarriages or abortions out of fear. In addition to the lives lost by lack of access to abortion care, these vigilante clauses will only increase the already too stark death toll.  

Across the country, anti-abortion extremists stand poised to enact similar abortion bans in light of the repeal of Roe. These pieces of legislation are known as “trigger bans,” meaning the ban can be triggered into action after the repeal of abortion protections in Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey. While the legislation and process of enacting these laws vary on a state-by-state basis, they will not go into effect immediately after Roe is repealed. While many states have already enacted their trigger bans, abortion access still varies greatly by state

Finding a way forward

Restrictions on reproductive care most heavily impact the most marginalized among us. Abortions have always been accessible and safe for those with enough financial support to travel and pay for the procedure itself. Abortion care has been documented for millennia, including references to abortion by Plato in the late 400s BCE and in Egyptian medicine dating back to 1550 BCE. Alito’s statement that abortion has no historical mentions in the United States at the writing of the Constitution is blatantly false. History has shown us, time and time again, that people will not stop having abortions. 

Finding the way forward can feel daunting, if not impossible. There are still plenty of ways to help support existing abortion access and prepare for the changes to the landscape of reproductive care in the United States. If you are able, donate to local abortion funds and local affiliates of Planned Parenthood. When donating, please keep your funding local rather than focusing on national branches of organizations to ensure the greatest impact. If you are looking to volunteer in person, many abortion clinics are looking for volunteer clinic escorts as anti-choice protester presence increases and upcoming midterm election campaigns are in need of a range of volunteers. 

Kansas Voters: Show up August 2

In particular, Kansas’ primary vote on August 2 will determine if the state still has a constitutionally protected right to abortion. Kansans for Constitutional Freedom is in dire need of volunteers to call voters, knock doors, and more. There are also a number of ways to get involved from home: call your senators and representatives to ask for abortion protections or have conversations with friends and family surrounding the importance of protecting abortion access. 

Handling abortion protesting with care

When discussing abortion access, please refain from using coathanger or Handmaid’s Tale imagery. These images do not paint an accurate picture of self-managed abortion access or what a post-Roe world will truly look like. While coathagers were previously used as a method for self-managed abortions prior to the passage of Roe, self-managed abortion methods are now safer than ever due to the presence of medication abortions. Instead of centering fearmongering coathanger imagery, we must begin to focus on how safe self-managed abortions are and how to successfully complete one at home. By reducing self-managed abortions to terrifying back alley procedures or dangerous at-home methods, we are only further stigmatizing a perfectly safe and common procedure. Medication abortions are no more risky than taking Tylenol and deserve to be normalized as such. 

Centering imagery based on The Handmaid’s Tale does not account for the longstanding history of government controlled reproductive care for incarcerated, poor, disabled, and BIPOC individuals. The attack on reproductive rights that exists within the Handmaid’s Tale is nothing new for marginalized people; utilizing this imagery simply erases the extensive history of forced sterilization and forced pregnancy of marginalized people in the United States. 

What does this mean?

The repeal of Roe and Casey is not only devastating for abortion access, but privacy rights as a whole. The majority opinion is an irresponsible and blatant showing of disrespect for the American legal system, legal precedence, and international law. Forced pregnancy is considered a crime against humanity and a war crime per the International Criminal Court and the United Nations. This decision is also in direct violation of the first amendment right to religious freedom. In Judaism, the second largest religion in the country, abortion is entirely supported during the first 40 days of pregnancy, with many supporting abortion up to the exact moment of birth. While Islam largely takes a neutral stance on abortion, with many believing abortion is permitted within the first 120 days of pregnancy. Support for abortion bans largely comes from Christians, where the “pro-life” movement grew out of a history of racism.

The majority’s citation of their Christian-centric moral code is nothing short of Christian extremism and an upset to the crucial separation of church and state that exists in the United States. The court is clear about their desire to abolish this separation, as seen in the recent decision to allow Christian schools in Maine to receive public funding. We are now standing on the precipice of a complete overthrow of the Constitution by unelected Christian extremists with immense power. In the majority opinion written by Alito and Thomas’ concurring opinion, it is abundantly clear that these extremists will not stop at abortion rights—they seek to repeal access to contraception and prohibit same-sex marriage and relationships. For a group that seemingly cares so little about legal precedence, they are setting a dangerous one. 

We know that we deserve better than this assault on our rights. Above all else, we know that when rights are under attack, we must make hope for the future. 


Do you or someone you know need access to a safe abortion? 

Contact Abortion Finder or Plan C Pills.


Katie Harbinson (she/her) is a Kansas City transplant with a background in political campaigns.  She is passionate about disability representation, breaking down the gender binary, and homoerotic undertones in her favorite TV shows. When not trying to convince her partner that they need to adopt another dog, Katie can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee and sarcastically commenting on the current political climate.  

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