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Handbook For A Post-Roe America' Explores Abortion Access Past, Present, And Future

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Trump made it pretty clear when campaigning for his presidency that he was going to punish nasty women if he won. So if the steak-salesman-turned-president can give up his wall obsession for ten minutes, Trump and his Mother-loving VP will surely pool equal parts woman-hating and super-religious worldviews to try and Make Abortion Illegal Again. Writer and reporter Robin Marty has been covering the topic of abortion alongside the pro-life and pro-choice movements throughout her career, and authored Handbook for a Post-Roe America, the survival guide American women will need to carry around like a Bible if we’ll ever survive the GOP’s rigid rule over US—er, the US. This book has everything a pro-choice woman needs to know about Roe, including what’ll make it go away, how to resist, and what to do if she gets pregnant while abortion’s either completely or nearly illegal in the States.

As its title suggests, Handbook for a Post-Roe America is an extensive resource guide for how to proceed once Roe is overturned. The handbook consists of ten brief chapters covering a variety of Post-Roe topics, and the final half provides a plethora of resources for women including contact information for US clinics and support groups, along with many examples of model bills that should be implemented on the state level if Roe is overturned. Handbook begins with a “how the hell did we get here” section of sorts, where Marty breaks down how Roe came to be before deliberating over a handful of scenarios on how Republicans will attempt to make abortion illegal or so restricted abortions will be impossible to get—whether or not Roe is overturned. As someone who’s had abortions (albeit in a “safe” state, Minnesota), it’s terrifying to read about just how difficult it is to get an abortion in other US states. And I was angry to read about the myriad barriers women endure in the South, with abortion clinics under constant threat and sparsely available in the region. All over the US, abortions are even harder to get for women of color, as Marty states in the first chapter:

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Targeting of the poor has had the greatest impact on pregnant people of color. Because of deep-rooted and systemic racial inequality, they are far more likely to be using government insurance, and hence be more than likely to be blocked from obtaining abortion care without large out-of-pocket costs. As a result, approximately one in four pregnant Medicaid users seeking to terminate ends up carrying to term simply because the financial burden is too great.

Shortly into Handbook for a Post-Roe America, the book starts to read like doomsday prep, which in a way it sort of is. Marty offers readers tips on how to build an emergency fund to prepare for an unexpected abortion in the future, considering the procedure and associated expenses could cost an estimated $550 to $1,700. It’s super scary thinking about how much money someone would have to save up if they live in the South and would need to get to a state where it’s legal and everything, the costs are insane for someone in that situation. The cost of the procedure out of pocket alone is steep (especially the further along a woman is in the pregnancy), but the added costs of food and lodging, transportation, and loss of wages make the stakes much higher.

In an effort to provide all the information on a woman’s options to the reader in one place, Marty reprints information about termination options outside of a medical setting, ranging from abortion pills and the use of herbs. In the case of things like herbs especially, Marty provides the info simply to educate readers—please do NOT try to insert large amounts of parsley into your vagina to end a pregnancy. Subsequent chapters discuss how abortions are performed at home, and again, information about these procedures is reprinted here simply to educate readers. It was excruciating to read about how to safely perform such a procedure at home, and perhaps that was the point. But the main point I gleaned from these chapters was that certain abortion pills currently available on the market are probably one’s best bet in the event a medical abortion is not an option. That said, all these options could be criminalized, depending on where you live in the US, so everything must be done very discreetly, as if you are committing a crime. Let’s face it, with Republicans running it now, it’s basically a crime to be a woman anyway.  

The book’s final chapter deals with tips on cyber security, one way to counter the potential illegality of getting an abortion in a post-Roe America. Marty offers readers tons of advice on how to safeguard yourself from security threats, tips that are great for anyone involved in the cause on some level. . .whether facing an abortion, engaging in activist work, or simply trying to tighten up one's internet presence to prevent a breach. The biggest takeaway, for me, is that once abortion’s illegal to any degree, a woman traveling out of state to get an abortion needs to erase paper and digital trails—and anyone helping out with the cause needs to protect their identity online to prevent becoming a target of "pro-life activists." The more regressive our country gets on Roe, the less safe women will be to voice her opinions, as her opinions will be increasingly outlawed.

Despite all the violence against abortion clinics and providers, like the assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009, it’s still sort of hard to believe that a woman can be targeted by hate crimes for simply choosing to end a pregnancy. But for anyone who’s had to endure verbal attacks by pro-life protesters outside abortions, these types of threats feel very real. Reading this book made me relive a lot of past traumas while getting my own abortions—in a state where abortion’s protected—so it was hard to wrap my mind around the reality of having the procedure done in one of the red states. Luckily, Marty’s comprehensive look at what it’s like getting an abortion anywhere in the US in Handbook for a Post-Roe America is a real eye opener, so readers of this book can imagine any possible scenario of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy—now and in the future.

Handbook For A Post-Roe America  was released January 15, 2019

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 Crystal Erickson is a writer, blogger, copy editor and proofreader. Off the clock, she freestyles cat-themed raps to Cat Mulder, watches campy horror movies, and talks to plants. You can follow her on Facebook

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