Dr Cheryl Hamlin added a line to her standard message for patients during their consultation at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic last week.
“As you’ve hopefully heard, the Supreme Court is likely to overturn Rowe v. Wade’s ruling, which means the clinic will be closed,” she told dozens of people who came to Jackson from faraway Texas to have an abortion.
About half of patients have not heard, she told Mississippi Today. So she explained: A The draft conclusion was leaked on May 2 noted that the court was prepared to overturn the 1973 ruling, which enshrined the constitutional right to abortion and guaranteed at least some access to the procedure in each state, even if states such as the Mississippi introduced such strict and medically unnecessary rules that only one clinic remained standing.
If the Supreme Court formally repeals Rowe, Mississippi has a book law that will ban abortion almost immediately in almost all cases. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, a clinic that is at the center of the case in the Supreme Court, is likely to stop abortions.
One woman asked if that meant Hamlin would lose her job. Hamlin, who lives in Massachusetts and visits Jackson about once a month for three days at the clinic, told her she would be fine.
“Well, I’ll be fine,” recalled Hamlin, who told the patient. “I will take these pills and never come back here.”
“I said,‘ Well, we’ll be fine with you. There are a lot of people who will not be. ”
As an obstetrician in Boston, Hamlin says she lived “in a pretty beautiful bubble.” In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she received training in abortion care during her residency at Boston Medical Center, and this has always been part of her practice.
“They came to my office, said it was what they wanted, I appointed them to the operating room at the hospital, and they went without protesters, and their insurance paid for it, and it’s okay,” she said. “I really thought that’s what people do. And that was my job. I did not see any moral imperative in this. “
Donald J. was then elected President of the United States. Trump. Hamlin read about the state of access to abortion in other parts of the country. She wanted to do something.
She has never been to Mississippi, but has contacted Jackson’s Women’s Health Director. She went to visit, liked it, and got a license in Mississippi.
In the fall of 2017, she joined a team of non-state doctors who arrive on duty at the clinic. Almost every month she travels from Boston to Jackson for a three-day shift.
Her working days at the clinic start around 8:30 am. The staff of the clinic in the morning hold consultations appointed by the state, including a lawsuit that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, though scientific studies show that this is not the case.
After this consultation, patients must wait at least 24 hours for their next visit, according to state law.
In the afternoon, Hamlin performs surgical procedures and gives the first pill for medical abortion, as required by Mississippi law.
Patients take other medications at home. More than half of the abortions performed at the clinic are medical abortions, Hamlin said.
During breaks during the day Hamlin likes to go outside accompanied by a clinic. They call themselves defenders of the Pink House, wear rainbow-colored vests and try to protect patients from protesters who push to persuade them to turn around.
When Hamlin arrived in Mississippi, she was waiting for demonstrators and seeing patients forced to travel long distances. But she did not anticipate how many of her patients would not have access to any regular care.
Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates in the country persons without health insurance, by 2.4%. Mississippi – one of the highest – 11.9%. Among people under 65, the figure is 14.1%.
Hamlin regularly talks to patients who could not afford to prescribe contraceptives because they are not insured. When she asks if they have a regular gynecologist, she often answers no.
“It’s almost unheard of in Massachusetts,” she said.
Hamlin, thanks to her work at Pink House, has already seen what Roe’s dismantling will look like.
Last year, Jackson’s clinic began to see something completely new: patients from Texas.
Last year, the state banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy through a unique and unprecedented enforcement mechanism.
The Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect. Since Septemberthe Texans crossed the border into buy drugs to terminate a pregnancy in Mexico. They traveled to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana and the Pink House.
Texas patients who flooded Louisiana clinics pushed Louisiana patients to Mississippi. Jackson’s clinic has changed working hours from three days a week to five.
Through it all, Hamlin kept working, wondering how long it would last.
She arrived in Jackson for a shift on the night of May 2nd. She was checking her email when she saw the news of a leaked draft report. This was not a surprise.
Ever since she started working in Mississippi, her counseling has always included information about the movement to draw Rowe. She reminds patients from Texas that Governor Greg Abbott was quickly re-elected.
But it was still a shock.
“As it is, it really will happen,” she said.
The next morning, Tuesday, the clinic was quiet. Regulars reported that many of the regular anti-abortion demonstrators went to Ukraine for missionary work.
Hamlin and her colleagues at the clinic are still waiting to see what the final decision will be – probably in June or July – and what laws Mississippi will pass. A state ban passed in 2007 is likely to ban all abortions except rape and save a mother’s life.
Although they have not been introduced into the state legislature, other potential laws could seek to ban travel or referral for abortion.
Last week, Jackson Clinic director Shannon Brewer told NBC plans to open a clinic in New Mexico, about 1,000 miles from Jackson. Delivering patients there or to southern Illinois can be expensive and logistically challenging, but southern abortion funds promised to continue to help people access to abortion.
Hamlin is worried about what could happen to a Mississippi resident who is having an abortion outside the state, but he is having complications at home.
In the decade before Rowe, going to the hospital after an abortion could trigger a criminal investigation in which the patient was forced to participate.
“I think people will be afraid to seek help at the emergency department,” Hamlin said. “In fact, there may be a few. But I think it will be much worse. “