Every summer, CLDC is honored to host future movement attorneys as part of our law clerk program. This year our clerks are an impressive group. Many of them went to law school after years of movement involvement with the hopes of expanding their impact.
We invited B, a third-year law student from the University of Oregon and part of our summer clerk program, to share their reflections as a former abortion provider turned future lawyer. When they’re not studying civil rights law, you can find them making multi-media art, rockhounding, and snuggling with their dog.
A Year Without Roe
One year ago, on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court revoked constitutional protection for abortion. This decision reversed decades of access to safe, effective abortion care – care that one in four people who can get pregnant relied on.
As a former abortion provider, I had the opportunity and the privilege to listen to the decision-making process of thousands of patients. Although my patients sought abortions for a wide variety of reasons, they all made their decisions out of love – love for the people they were already caring for, love for the children they wanted later down the line, and love for their own health, careers, and educations. None of my patients took the matter lightly; they all made thoughtful decisions about what would be best for themselves and their families. They had the blessing and the burden of making what was often a very difficult choice. But it was their choice to make.
Since the fall of Roe last year, abortion has been banned in fourteen states. Twenty-one more states have imposed significant restrictions on abortion access, which make it difficult or even impossible for people seeking abortion care to get it. In states that allow abortion when a pregnant person’s life is in danger, doctors are often still unsure how to apply this exception, which has led to life-saving care being withheld. Even doctors abiding by the new restrictions have faced public backlash and harassment, such as in the case of the Indiana doctor who lawfully provided an abortion to a 10 year-old survivor of rape. Abortion bans have put many lives and livelihoods in danger, and it has only been one year.
Many activists have taken to the streets to protest the bans and demand reproductive freedom. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (“CPCs”) have been targets for such protest because they lure people in with offers of free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds before pressuring them into continuing their pregnancies. Thousands of these centers operate across the nation, promising to discuss “all options,” yet directing people away from abortion resources with fear tactics, tricks, and religious rhetoric and manipulation. While parenting and adoption are perfectly valid choices when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, pregnant people deserve to receive nonjudgmental, medically accurate information about all their options, including abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers do not provide such necessary care.
On June 24, 2022, a protest took place at Dove Medical, a CPC in Eugene, Oregon. There, medic Amanda Becker-Henske was assaulted by police. CLDC has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Amanda’s behalf, standing in solidarity with these protests and reproductive freedom.
Since the Dobbs decision, we have also seen a dramatic increase in violence and threats against abortion providers, especially here in Oregon. Since 1994, the government has been able to press criminal and civil charges against perpetrators of violence to abortion providers and clinics with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (“FACE”) Act. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has only pursued an average of four cases per year since the Act’s enactment.
Even though the FACE Act was created in direct response to the onslaught of violence that abortion providers regularly face, the Act is now being used to target four pro-choice activists in Florida. These activists, one now a CLDC client, allegedly spray painted the exterior of three crisis pregnancy centers while they were closed. Through the FACE Act, each defendant is indicted on federal felony criminal charges that carry up to twelve years in prison and $350,000 in fines. They have also been separately sued for federal civil claims in two cases filed at the same time by the Florida Attorney General’s office and one of the CPCs, Heartbeat of Miami. All three cases are ongoing in the US District Court-Middle District of Florida.
As a former abortion provider and current law clerk assisting the CLDC attorneys with these cases, I am continually struck by the lengths the anti-choicers will go to attack reproductive rights. I am honored to be working alongside attorneys who will support and defend the pro-choice movement as we continue to fight for the right to choose abortion and bodily autonomy in every state.
One year after the fall of Roe, please stay enraged. Please keep organizing against threats to our bodies and our communities. Please continue standing up for our fundamental rights. We’re with you, and we’ve got your back.
 https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-defendants-indicted-civil-rights-conspiracy-and-face-act-offenses-targeting-pregnancy-0. Unfortunately, the local Florida federal court rules prohibit us from expressing any opinion about the merits of the criminal case.
(Photo Credit: Robert Scherle)