AuthorBlack, Steph

Abortion has always been a local issue.

For decades, the goal of the abortion access movement has been to get pregnant people across the threshold of abortion clinic doorways. Dozens of volunteer networks have been created to aid in this effort, from abortion funds to make the procedure financially possible to practical support collectives that get patients to the clinic door, to clinic escorts who guide patients through the crowds of protesters. The people who make abortion possible deeply understand the importance of local politics that reflect the needs of the community.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade last June was a wake-up call for many liberals who, believing that abortion rights are inalienable, took their permanence for granted. Almost everyone I've spoken to in the past few months who identifies as pro-choice has echoed similar sentiments--they can't believe abortion is no longer a protected federal right.

But ask anyone on the front lines of the abortion movement--in the South, in rural areas, in states controlled by Republicans--and they will tell you that Roe was doomed from the start. What all of these communities have in common is that the barriers to access abortion are local, and they are far-reaching--extending well beyond the procedure's legality and the many anti-abortion laws that are on the books. They include waiting periods, mandated propaganda, forced ultrasounds, and other TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws.

The barriers are structural, too, including a lack of reliable public transportation, deteriorating infrastructure, and the rising costs of child care and fuel. These are all hyper-local matters that can prevent someone from physically accessing abortion. Even before Roe was overturned, nearly one in ten people obtaining an abortion traveled across state lines for care. The legality of abortion is decided by local politics.

What happens when local politics go further than just restricting abortion, to outlawing abortion outright? Under threat of prosecution, as of early October, sixty-six clinics across fifteen states have been forced to stop providing abortion, and of those, twenty-six clinics were permanently closed. Just thirteen clinics provide abortion care in those fifteen states, and all of these are in Georgia, a state that is currently enforcing a six-week abortion ban.

For Red State Access, local politics are the heart of their work. Red State Access is a new abortion organization...

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