There are all sorts of travel. Domestic and international. Business and leisure. Solo and group. And, of course, “revenge travel” has become a hot new term in recent months.
Know what we may soon be hearing much more about, soon? Abortion travel.
The leak of the upcoming Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade has turned the United States on its ear. Anti-abortionists are celebrating, pro-choice proponents are figuring out the best things to do next, and just about everyone is wondering who leaked what may soon be the Supreme Court’s decision to Politico and why.
Regardless of how anyone stands on the topic of abortion, the bottom line is that the end of Roe v. Wade is not going to stop abortion. Not even in the states that have greatly curtailed it, or plan to via “trigger laws” (those are state bans that go into effect almost immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned).
Abortion has been going on for at least close to 3,500 years. In more modern times, say in the century before Roe v. Wade, women used coat hangers and other sharp instruments (sometimes alone at home, sometimes with assistance in back alleys) or ate/drank questionable concoctions of plants and herbs, among other acts, to end a pregnancy. Whether or not these attempted abortions were legal didn’t matter to them – nor did the high possibility of the woman dying from the act (in both 1920 and 1960, illegal abortion accounted for about 50% of all maternal deaths. By 1980, with abortions legal and safely induced in a medical facility, the percentage of maternal deaths due to abortion had dropped to nearly zero – familyjrank.org).
Of course, women with enough money to do so simply traveled to other places to get safe(r) abortions done. In earlier decades, females who got pregnant just “went away” for a while – to states or even countries were abortion was legal, and therefore could be done safely.
I remember Hawai’i without legal abortion. Rich girls went to Japan “on vacation” when they “got in trouble.” Poor girls went to back doors in Chinatown, where some bled to death or got septicemia. Docs testified about this, and our then union-backed leg listened.
— Mari Matsuda (@mari_matsuda) May 3, 2022
(Hawai’i was the first state to make abortion legal, in March, 1970. Abortion in Japan has been legal since 1948. So for those 22 years, Japan was an option for Hawaiian girls and women who needed an abortion and could afford to travel there)
Although using abortion pills (a.k.a. “medical abortions”) now account for more than half of U.S. abortions, traveling to get an abortion, either to get the pills (sometimes “mail order” to one’s home isn’t an option) or to have a surgical abortion, still happens today, of course, regardless of a given state’s law. It could be a 16-year-old, the daughter of an anesthesiologist and a pilot, who “got in trouble” with her boyfriend. Or maybe it’s the mistress of someone rich and/or famous (such as former PA Rep. Tim Murphy) who has the unintended pregnancy. Or whoever is in the unfortunate situation of having to make that decision, but has access to money to send her away to somewhere else. She’ll travel to another part of the country – or to another country – to get the job done, “so no one at home will ever know.”
Some companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Bumble, Citigroup, Levi Strauss, Match Group, Salesforce, Tesla and Yelp have already announced they will help employees with travel expenses if they need to leave their state to seek an abortion. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are both considering similar plans. More companies, especially in the wake of the Great Resignation, when it’s sometimes been difficult to find employees, are sure to offer similar benefits in the future (although I would be remiss in adding that some states are already trying to make that plan more difficult). Meanwhile Uber and Lyft have said since last year that they had created legal defense funds to protect drivers who might be sued for “aiding and abetting” someone by driving them to/from an abortion appointment (some states, such as Texas, are allowing citizens to sue those who have any hand in assisting someone getting an abortion, even if it’s someone as seemingly innocent as ride share driver).
Going back to the states that already greatly limit abortion (or will, once Roe v. Wade is no longer in place), traveling for abortions will be looked at as a possibility for more and more women, especially those – more often poorer, living in rural areas, and/or and people of color – who don’t have access to other options. Organizations such as the Haven Coalition, the Brigid Alliance, Whole Women’s Health’s Abortion Wayfinder Program, and other philanthropic foundations are already set up in the U.S., just as the Abortion Support Network is available in Europe. Their primary focus is planning and monetary assistance to those who need an abortion but can’t afford to travel to New York, California, Connecticut, or the other states (or countries) that will (A) keep abortion legal despite Roe v. Wade falling and (B) offer abortion to out-of-state/country residents.
Of course, we’re never going to see the likes of Marriott or United running promotions for abortion travel. But I don’t think it’s too farfetched to think that indirectly donating, say, Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors rewards to an organization that helps, for example, low income Black and Brown girls the Deep South travel to California, Illinois, Connecticut or Canada to get an abortion will be a “thing” in the coming months or years.
Travel abortion. It’s going to be happening, more than ever.
Feature Photo (cropped. Original below): Statista.com
You will find more infographics at Statista
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