Carole Joffe: Author of 'Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America'


I'm Jim Taylor. Skinner in this is the electorate on this episode. I have a conversation with professor reproductive. Rights Advocate Carol. Joffe about her new book. Obstacle course the everyday struggle to get an abortion in America. We opened our conversation by discussing. How legislation has failed to protect access to abortion because it overlooks the everyday obstacles. That make it nearly impossible from any women to obtain an abortion legislatively. I confess to being very cynical. I seriously I don't think that even I mean. Look the country's deeply deeply divided about abortion those who are pro choice. See these restrictions as inhibiting often in a very cruel way women's ability to get an abortion. Those who are against abortion say. Yeah that's the point. We we are putting these things in precisely so we don't believe in abortion so therefore These restrictions are good because they make it harder to get an abortion. They they make it easier to close down clinics so all is to say that. I'm I mean in terms of the legislative process I don't think that anything we say in our book will sway. Those who who are opposed to abortion could put an antiabortion restrictions. What my co author David Cone and I are hoping is that those who are pro-choice but do not do abortion work or study or advocacy twenty four seven like many of the People. We discuss in our book. will come to understand how onerous restrictions are and hopefully will will move to remove those legislators out of office so who who are doing this as people who are pro choice when. I look for someone to vote into office right just to put. It simply feels like this people when they speak to us and you know. They're saying vote for me when they talk about abortion they talk about Roe v Wade and it doesn't spread from there they don't really talk about all of the little restrictions that have gone into place which makes exercising your right to an abortion nearly impossible for a lot of women. I mean legislatively one of the things that you point out in the book is that you know Central v Wade past have been about what to- hundred restrictions by now probably probably more like thirteen hundred? Yeah I feel like none of our politicians are really focusing on those. Are you know they have a blind spot? They're only looking at Roe v Wade. We have the protective weighed. Yes no if certainly make sense and and You know what I would say in response to that is of course. It's important to protect Roe. V Wade and there's a lot to be very nervous about at this very moment about row but what researching and writing this book show to me. Is that many women already live in post real world. In other words if roe is overturned what presumably will happen is it will be turned back to the states. That means they'll be a lot of traveling from what we now. Call hostile states to quote haven states. But that's already happening. I mean one thing that really surprised me and I've studied abortion more than thirty five years. one thing. That really surprised me was just extent of the travel of efforts at took to just get to a clinic for so many women. The really important thing about your book when I was reading it. You outline the stories of a lot of women. I think the first person you highlight is a fifteen year old teenager right and her parents were kind of in and out of the picture. And when you think about the fact that in some states you have to have parental consent right and you think about the thousands of dollars at it takes to get an abortion and this particular person ended up in one of those e call fake clinic. What do they call them? A clinic crisis pregnancy center. You just talk us through that scenario of what that might have been like for her fifteen year old teenager while she was a extrordinary. We did not interview her personally. We we found her story she had written it up So I can't speak to her personally but she. She had extraordinary. Extraordinarily determination was like for her to go to the center. She lives in the state where she had to make a separate trip to the clinic. Twenty four hours before the abortion. She got to the clinic. She realized something was wrong. It was a fake clinic. These crisis pregnancy centers and there's thousands of them there. There are more crisis. Pregnancy centers in the United States. Now than there are abortion providing facilities and in a number of states. They get they get public funding. You know one of the most of the many things in this world to be enraged about one of the most enraging things is for example in the state of Texas. Money is taken away from family planning centres not even abortion. I mean you may be sure does not give money to abortion clinics but to family planning programs contraceptive programs and gives them to these religiously sponsored crisis pregnancy centers that outright. Lie To women they either tell them they're ultrasound is so far along that Can't pass get an abortion? Or sometimes they tell them they're ultrasound shows actually earlier stage in pregnancy than they actually are so these women won't rush and by the time they get to a clinic They'll be too late. Another feature of them is that they have been very aggressive about buying property. Is nearest possible to legitimate abortion facilities and it's often very very confusing to patients. I mean this this case that we talked about in the book we call her Collier. It's very common especially for example in in a case that we do discuss the park crisis. Pregnancy center had a parking lot right next to a clinic. People from the fake clinic would stand outside would wave women in who of course stopped that they were being waived into the real clinic. So yeah this is one of many many problems that women face when they try to get an abortion. When I read this story I I. It was just incredible to me. I was so angry. And just the Paul the links go to to to to lie to women and you know into teenagers who are going through something. That's really really hard. So and in that case with Talia this clinic you can remind me or tell me if I'm correct or not. This clinic was right next door very close to it and it looked very much like the real clinic and the name was very similar. That's right and when you go into these places they're they're you know they're wearing lab coats and make you think that their doctors that's right and just it's just unfathomable to me the link to go through none of the I think you hit the right word on the head. It's unfathomable that these fake clinics Goto but it also Jennifer I would also say it's unfathomable the lengths women not just teenagers but women in general have to go through to get their abortions and they do. Yeah they do right. That gets to one of my next questions do we do. We have any data on. The percentage is the percentage of cases where obstacles collectively were. They've been successful right in a woman knocking abortion we done. That's a great question. We don't have good data on specifically women who were dissuaded or allied to at a crisis pregnancy center. My colleagues here at UCSF in the answer program have come up with a estimate that about four thousand women a year Who Show up at clinics are turned away because they arrived too late in in just station. Your listeners should understand that all abortion facilities are not uniform some go only through the first trimester of pregnancy some go to eighteen weeks Some states a number of states have banned abortions after twenty weeks there's only three or four clinics and the United States that will perform abortions after twenty four weeks and that's usually for Fetal anomalies or the woman herself is is very ill. I mean those are not the only people who get abortions there. But that's the bulk of the cases so It's a very cruel vicious cycle Europe. Poor woman you find out you're pregnant you try you look around you. Try to find a clinic. You make an appointment you try to find someone who will drive you there. You try to arrange childcare for your children. Sixty percent of abortion patients are our parents You arrange to take time off from work so all you have to put all these things into place. What we found out is simply getting a getting a reliable ride to a clinic if you don't have your own car or even if you do some clinics a use sedation which means you are not able to drive yourself home afterwards. Anyway but the time you get all these pieces in place and you show up to the clinic you may be past that clinics limit

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