Share Your Voice: With Roe Gone, Now What?

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Pink and blue toned illustration, showing a variety of figures in silhouette, with one central figure in pink turning to look apprehensively at the viewer as they walk into a darker side of the frame.
The end of Roe v. Wade doesn't mean the end of legal abortion access in California. But it will allow other states to dramatically restrict or ban abortion. (Anna Vignet/KQED)

Roe v. Wade — the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that guaranteed at least some degree of abortion access in the U.S. — is gone.

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case from Mississippi that weighed whether bans on abortion before fetal viability are constitutional. As many across the U.S. feared since a draft opinion of a decision in the case leaked in May, June 24's majority has struck down Roe v. Wade, and effectively reversed nearly 50 years of legal standing, giving individual states the power to ban any and all abortion procedures.

Share your voice with us

If you're looking to take action, learn about ways to support abortion access now, within California and further afield, in this guide from KQED Arts and Culture.

If you're looking for a space to share your thoughts, or tell your own story about abortion, KQED Public Radio's Perspectives series — our morning series that lets listeners have their say in their own words — wants to hear from you:

How do you feel about living in a nation without Roe v. Wade?

Share your thoughts in the form below, and we may be in touch to talk about featuring your story, told by you in your own voice, on air. You can also email mtrautwein@kqed.org or call (415) 553-2108 and leave us a message.

(If you prefer to just ask us a question about what this means for the U.S. and California, you can send us your question here.)

Remembering the reality before Roe

Ever since May's leak of Justice Alito's draft opinion, people around the state have feared the official fall of Roe: how it will affect the lives of people needing abortions around the nation, and how this new reality might harken back to the time before Roe. And many have been compelled to share their personal experiences with abortion — some for the very first time.

KQED's Lesley McClurg spoke with several women who ended their pregnancies before Roe v. Wade. For many, the memories of their illegal abortions were traumatic.

These women included Pearl Lipner, who sought an abortion in 1963 when she was 18 years old and using the birth control pill. For $1,500 in cash, she was given an abortion using the dangerous technique of packing the uterus with gauze, used back then by unskilled abortion providers.

"If something happened, I was not to go to the hospital because I'd be immediately arrested," said Lipner. Twenty-four hours later, she was alone and in excruciating pain, and passed out as she began hemorrhaging. Hours later, a friend arranged for a former Vietnam medic to visit her home to give Lipner a blood transfusion — with likely stolen blood.

McClurg also spoke with her own mother, Jan, whom she says opened the conversation by saying, "You know, you might not be here today if I hadn’t had an abortion in 1968."

Jan McClurg related how after her own illegal abortion in Mexico City, she began bleeding heavily — "I remember just being terrified" — but, like Lipner, didn't dare go to the hospital for fear of the legal repercussions. She recovered quickly but said, "I go years and don't even think about it. And then when I do, I still get so emotional.”

She told her daughter she has no regrets. "There was no way on Earth that I was prepared for motherhood. It was not meant to be," she said.

Listen to the full story from The California Report Magazine:

More Californians share their abortion stories

In anticipation of Friday's decision, KQED Forum discussed the implications of a world without Roe, and invited listeners to call in and share their personal experiences with abortion.

The outpouring of responses reflected both the weight and trauma of unwanted pregnancy, and the liberation granted by laws that support bodily autonomy. You can read those listener accounts in our article 'The Decision That Was Right for Me': Advocates and KQED Listeners Share Their Abortion Stories.

So many people reached out to Forum to share their stories that not all could be featured in the hour-long show. But as Roe is struck down, and California grapples with the reality of a nation with no guaranteed abortion access, we're bringing their stories to you now:

Carole Bumpus: "When I became pregnant while unmarried and in college, I chose to deliver my baby and give her up for adoption. This was in 1967 and during the Vietnam war. The father of the baby was unwilling to accept responsibility, my own father was an Anglican [Episcopal] priest, and I didn’t want to bring shame to our family. I went far, far away to deliver in a state where I knew no one.

"Fifteen years later, when I was ending a brutal marriage, I found I was pregnant again. I chose abortion and have never felt one moment of regret. I couldn’t abide staying in the marriage and had two other children to take care of and raise while working two jobs. I wanted to give my living children what energy I had left for them. One of the reasons I went ahead with the abortion was because it was so painful to lose my first baby to adoption. When that sweet child reached the age of 25, she reached out to me and we have been connected ever since — but not without the residual loss of sharing her life before our meeting.

"Since then I became a family therapist working with juveniles who ended up in detention. The legal term that was given to many of them was 'throwaway children' and were exactly the ones whose parents could not take care of them. This increased my belief that babies who are chosen will have a better life. Our stories do not end with the abortion, but become part of a bigger story."

Forum listener: "For me at 29 years old, [abortion] was a difficult choice.

"But I was single, traveled for work, wanted a child but not without a partner. I did not feel I could be a single mother, and it was important to me to bring a child into a loving family. Without a willing partner, I could not bring a child into that life. I knew I could never have given birth and given the child away for adoption — that would have destroyed me emotionally and mentally.

"[I'm] now 65 years old, still with the same man, still not married, never had children. It was the right decision at the time and I have never regretted the choice. So grateful for having the choice."

Domenica Devine: "I was 15 when I got pregnant. I did drugs and drank and had sex with multiple men — boys really. I thought I was so smart, but emotionally I had not a clue. The only smart thing I did was to get an abortion. It was not a decision I took lightly. It was a misery trying to decide what to do. I had plenty of examples of what solo motherhood looked like in my neighborhood and that frightened me. It looked dismal and not what I wanted for myself. Without my high school diploma and no way to support myself, I can’t imagine what my life would have looked like.

"I hurt. I remember how much the procedure hurt, too. No anesthesia. I’ve recently had the same procedure, for obviously different reasons, and they knocked me out. I wonder now if the procedure was meant to hurt. As if the physical pain was necessary. I wonder about that.

"At 17, having moved from home, with my own job and my own life, I was on the pill. And though I was diligent, perhaps I missed one, or I was the 1% breakthrough. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know. But I knew that I was not grown up enough to take on that responsibility. I could barely make rent. I wasn’t doing a great job of taking care of myself. So I had my second abortion. That decision was not easy either, but it was thoughtful, considered and deliberate.

"I don’t think I would have accomplished much had I had children at that age. I got married — 33 years now. Besides my stepson, children were not in the cards for us. My husband and I traveled, lived in a few different cities, and I got the education I wanted. I found my bliss in science and I finally got my doctorate in education. I have had a wonderful life and wouldn’t change a minute. What I have is a life lived fully. Which would not have been, had I not made the decision to have two abortions. I suppose if I had been forced to raise two children without any support, my life might have been all right, but I doubt it. The social safety net for single mothers just doesn’t exist."

Forum listener: "When I was 19 in 1991, I became pregnant. I was in my sophomore year in college and I wasn’t even sure which sexual partner I had gotten pregnant with, my boyfriend or my ex-boyfriend. I loved my ex-boyfriend, but he was completely unstable, later diagnosed as bipolar and a heavy cocaine user. I was not even sure that I wanted children.

"I talked to my mom and she helped me realize I was not ready to be a mother. It was a lifetime commitment. How could I afford a child? I decided to have an abortion. Afterwards, in the recovery room, the girl next to me tried to make small talk, but I told her I couldn’t speak right then. I was thinking about what I had done. I felt slightly sad, but mostly relieved.

"I went on to graduate with a master's degree and have a fulfilling professional life. Additionally, I worked as an abortion counselor at the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health in Tennessee for four years. I saw so many women with their own personal stories. Some wanted to discuss it, others insisted they didn’t need to speak about their decision. I held the hand of hundreds of women while they were going through the procedure. It was meaningful work and was the best job that I ever had. I was helping women and some teenagers through a difficult decision."

Send us your questions about the end of Roe

If you want to ask us a question — whether it's what losing Roe v. Wade means for the United States, how you can personally take action in support of abortion access or what this ruling means for California — you can do so through this comment box:

We may not be able to reach directly back out to everyone who asks a question, but what you submit will make our reporting on abortion access stronger, and help us decide what to cover on KQED Public Radio and here on our site.

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