It is nearly impossible for millions of women in the South and other parts of the United States to terminate a pregnancy. Forty-one years on after Roe v. Wade, a vast “abortion desert” has expanded across the country. About 30 million women across 35 states no longer have reasonable access to abortion. Some women must drive hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic, endure 48-hour waiting periods, submit to humiliating lectures, or cross lines of angry protesters to exercise their constitutional right to end their pregnancies.
This means that a woman’s constitutional rights now depend on where she lives. In theory, a Mississippi woman has the same right as a woman in the District of Columbia to obtain an abortion. But in practice, she does not. As religion and politics have reshaped the debate in the direction of eroding women’s rights, the impact has fallen hardest on the poor, often perpetuating the cycle of poverty and despair.