Narratives around Roe v. Wade

by Farwa Zaidi

Sam nibbled at her fingernails as she sat in the waiting room. While she had made this decision months ago, she was still nervous. She reached over to grab her boyfriend’s hand, finding herself grateful that he was with her.

“Sam?” Called the nurse. She jolted up in her seat.

“We just need a urine sample from you, sweetie.”

Sam relaxed. She was getting an IUD today to protect herself from unwanted pregnancies, and knew a pregnancy test was part of the deal. Of course though, she assumed it’d be negative.

An hour later, Sam was crying in her car, with her boyfriend consoling her from the driver’s seat. Neither of them had any idea that the mandatory pregnancy test would come out positive, and the past hour felt like a blur: the nurse confirming the test results, telling her they couldn’t proceed with the IUD insertion today, telling her to come back tomorrow for a second test, just to be sure.

As they sat in the car, Sam and her boyfriend agreed that if the second test was positive, they’d find the nearest abortion clinic and make an appointment. Again, Sam found herself grateful that her boyfriend was supportive of her decisions. “I know not a lot of women have supportive partners when it comes to reproductive decisions like contraceptives and abortions. I felt better knowing I had someone’s support,” Sam tells me.

The next day they returned to the doctor’s office, and as a relief to them both, the second pregnancy test was negative. The nurses assured her that the previous day was most likely a false positive, and Sam proceeded to get an IUD to ensure that this would never happen again.

“It’s been a few years since I got my IUD and that false positive pregnancy test, and all I can wonder now, with Roe in so much danger, is what I would’ve done if that second test was also positive and abortion rights weren’t protected,” Sam tells me. Just having the assurance that an abortion was an option for her had relieved Sam’s nerves that day, and if the same thing had happened to her today, she knows that wouldn’t have been the case.

Sam, like many other people in the United States, looks back at her experiences with a heavy heart now that abortion rights are in such danger. On June 24th, 2022, the Supreme Court decided in a historic and far-reaching decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The decision has put abortion rights all over the country in jeopardy. As of August, over a dozen states have banned or mostly banned abortion. (Washington Post, 2022) The below map shows abortion rights per state.

The Washington Post

The Supreme Court decision has acted as a catalyst for people all over the country to share their abortion stories, or near abortion stories, in Sam’s case. The Guttmacher Institute, one of two agencies that collects abortion statistics, states that in 2020, “there were 930,160 abortions nationwide, up from 916,460 in 2019.” (Pew Research Center, 2022) Many of us have been impacted by abortion rights in our lifetime, whether we realize it or not.

Sarah, a non-binary nurse living in Virginia, has used the Supreme Court decision to update their skills. “I’ve been looking for a change for a while now, and this seemed like a sign,” Sarah says. They’ve decided to pursue training to become an abortion doula so they can help people who are undergoing the procedure.

“I know that now, more than ever, people who are having abortions are going to need support. If I can be a help to even one person, it would bring me so much satisfaction,” Sarah tells me. With prior nursing experience, Sarah knows that they can bring help and support to people who need abortions, as well as abortion providers.

Abortion providers have always been in danger, but the recent ruling has made it even worse. Not only are they looking for funds, but they need protection from protestors, and tangible support to help people who come to them for abortions. Becca, a board member and volunteer of the Baltimore Abortion Fund, tells me that the fund has been scrambling since the Supreme Court decision. “We help pay for procedure costs, meals, childcare, translation assistance, and more. We always struggle to get enough donations to cover the costs, and since the ruling, it seems as if we never have enough.”

Not only is is vital for us to support abortion providers, it is equally important to support abortion funds, abortion doulas, people who need abortions, and people telling their stories about their abortions. Our narratives can help change the wave.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

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