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The Supreme Court's abortion decision creates battlegrounds between states


The landscape for abortion access looks very different this morning than it did last week. Eleven states have now banned abortions or severely limited them after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe. Now there are legal fights brewing between states with conflicting laws. NPR correspondent Sarah McCammon covers abortion rights policy. Sarah, where do we stand this morning?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, this weekend there have been protests around the country and also celebrations in response to this landmark decision. And already, as you said, roughly a dozen states say they're implementing trigger bans prohibiting abortion. We may see more go into effect in the days to come. And we're expecting legal battles over some of these laws. But bottom line, A, we're already seeing the kind of patchwork abortion law landscape that's been predicted for a long time.

MARTINEZ: And you recently visited one of these places where this kind of tension is already playing out. What did you see?

MCCAMMON: Right. I spent some time recently along the Illinois-Missouri border. These are two states with very different political environments. Missouri lawmakers have been passing numerous restrictions on abortion over the years, and it was already very difficult to get an abortion there. So in 2019, Planned Parenthood opened a large clinic in Illinois, just across the state line from the Saint Louis area, and it's already seeing thousands of patients a year and preparing for many more.


CAROLYN SHERRELL: This is Carolyn with the Regional Logistics Center.

MCCAMMON: At the Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights, Ill., there's a room set up with desks and computers and a big monitor in front to help patients struggling to get there. When someone calls in short on funds or needing a hotel room or a ride to the airport, case managers ask a few basic questions about their living situation, income and what they need.

SHERRELL: All right. Good deal. Thank you for that. Give me just a second.

MCCAMMON: This patient says she can pay $150 toward the $470 cost of her abortion. Case manager Carolyn Sherrell gets the rest from a variety of abortion funds around the region, which she tracks on her computer screen.

SHERRELL: So that leaves her with a zero balance. So I did piece it together through, in this case, 1, 2 - 4 funders in 5 minutes. I used...

MCCAMMON: Anti-abortion-rights activists in Missouri have seen years of legislative and legal victories even as their neighbor Illinois has become a hub for abortion patients.

MARY ELIZABETH COLEMAN: Hey, Katie, do I have just a minute, or are you guys, like, ready to go on?

MCCAMMON: In a suburb outside Saint Louis, Missouri State Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman is also on the phone, fielding two radio interviews at once from her living room. At 40, Coleman tells me she's been hoping all her life to see the end of Roe v. Wade.

COLEMAN: I just think that this is a real success story for the American experiment.

MCCAMMON: Coleman, who's a Republican, sponsored a proposal in Missouri's state legislature this year that would have empowered individuals to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident get an abortion out of state, a practice she calls, quote, "abortion tourism."

COLEMAN: It's one of those phrases that really describes what I think we're going to be seeing and certainly what we have already started to see, which is states that are really catering to providing abortions to residents of states that have no abortion access. And so there's a direct targeting that's taking place into pro-life states.

MCCAMMON: Coleman's proposal failed to advance, but it may offer a preview of what's ahead. Farah Diaz-Tello is with the abortion rights legal advocacy group If/When/How.

FARAH DIAZ-TELLO: As somebody who believes in the Constitution, who believes in the rule of law, it is somewhat frightening to see states preparing to enforce or not enforce one another's laws.

MCCAMMON: Diaz-Tello sees this moment as a test with major implications for the future of abortion rights and for the country.

MARTINEZ: Sarah, based on your recent reporting from Missouri and Illinois, what do you expect to see as more states enact abortion bans?

MCCAMMON: Well, already, states like Kentucky are trying to make it possible to extradite people who provide abortion pills to Kentuckians - so more fights like that. But we're in the early days here, and we're going to see lots of clashes in the days to come between the states with different policies.

MARTINEZ: Right. NPR's Sarah McCammon, thanks a lot.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.

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