‘Life and Death Decisions in Post-Roe America’: The Ms. Q&A with Shefali Luthra

Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. But according to Shefali Luthra, author of Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in Post-Roe America, “it had been on the verge of collapse for decades.” After all, most Medicaid recipients had lost insurance coverage for the procedure in 1977 and a plethora of restrictions—from parental consent and notification requirements for minors, to mandated counseling sessions to dissuade people from ending their pregnancies—had long kept procedural abortion out of reach for large segments of the population.

Undue Burden digs into this lack of preparedness by introducing diverse people who have been directly impacted by the decision—people who have had to travel hundreds of miles to have an abortion, people whose highly-anticipated pregnancies became untenable, a trans man who became pregnant shortly after beginning his transition, and a young couple who lacked the emotional and financial resources to welcome a second child, among them. Their stories are juxtaposed with those of overwrought clinicians as well as staff at abortion funds. The result is a poignant and dramatic look at the stakes of losing Roe and a compassionate assessment of the human toll wrought by Dobbs.

Our Abortion Stories: ‘Many Women Are Not Able to Travel and Are Forced to Continue Pregnancies. We Must Remember Them.’

Abortions are sought by a wide range of people for many different reasons. There is no single story. Telling stories of then and now shows how critical abortion has been and continues to be for women and girls. (Share your abortion story by emailing myabortionstory@msmagazine.com.)

In this edition of Our Abortion Stories, women share how abortion has shaped their lives and how abortion restrictions in Mississippi have created challenging work environments for providers.

To Defend Democracy, We Must Protect Bodily Autonomy

It is no coincidence that at the same moment U.S. democracy is facing existential threats, we are also witnessing profound assaults not only on the body politic but on our bodily autonomy. 

One of the biggest threats to the consolidation of power is an empowered and engaged populace—particularly women, the LGBTQ community and people of color. Which is why anti-democratic leaders are doing all they can to limit and curtail the power of these communities. This moment requires progressive and pro-democracy funders to understand the attacks to reproductive freedom, LGBTQ liberation, and racial justice not as distinct or disparate—but as central to the attacks to our democracy itself, and to fund accordingly.

So Goes Reproductive Freedom, So Goes Democracy

When people consider what it means to be a democracy on the decline, plot points of the recent film Civil War come to mind: a U.S. president who disregards the Constitution to nab a third term. Crackdowns on dissent and the media. Leaders using the military to break up public demonstrations.

While that is, of course, representative of growing authoritarianism, recent history suggests that rollbacks on bodily autonomy and reproductive freedoms are also flashing red lights for would-be regimes. 

We Must Stop Catholic Hospitals From Closing More Labor and Delivery Units

When I became a registered nurse two decades ago, I chose to work at my local Catholic hospital: Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, Kansas. This Mother’s Day provides a bleak reminder of the stark contrast between my Catholic employer’s public image and the reality inside its hospitals.

Ascension is one of the largest and wealthiest nonprofit and Catholic hospital systems in the United States. Ascension cut a quarter of its labor and delivery units, just in the last decade.

The Catholic health ministry boasts the mission of giving “special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.” Act like it.

The Hypocrisy of a Post-Roe Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day—like the countless that have come before it—conservative politicians who fancy themselves members of the party that upholds “family values” will send out social media posts praising the moms among us. They’ll wax poetic about the “decision” to become a mother and how it’s the “most selfless, most important job in the world.” Some may even go so far as to task their speech writers with crafting some moving message about how vital mothers are; how we’re raising the next generation of prolific thinkers and world leaders; how we should be revered “not just today, but every day.” 

And in the post-Roe world they created with their anti-abortion policies that have forced people into motherhood, attacked IVF and fertility treatments, and left doctors terrified to treat pregnant patients to the point that women are slipping into comas, miscarrying in hospital lobby bathrooms and enduring unnecessary C-sections instead of receiving common abortion care, it will all be one big, giant pile of bullshit.

The Twin Demons of Maternal Mortality and Femicide

Black women in the U.S. face a unique double-bind when it comes to maternal mortality and femicide.

Black maternal health isn’t just about perinatal care; it intersects with racial and reproductive justice, and it’s part of the nexus of gun violence and domestic violence. Focusing on this intersection should drive overwhelming support from both reproductive and racial justice communities working toward solutions. 

Mothers Have Led the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement

Tarana Burke, Oleta ‘Lee’ Kirk Abrams and Lucy Tibbs are a few of the many mothers of survivors and survivors that are mothers who have long been leading the movement to end sexual violence. 

Today, we thank mothers for their work leading the movement to end sexual violence. For far too long, they have had to protect themselves, advocate for their community and lead the national movement. We must all take responsibility to end sexual violence.

Access to Contraception Should Not Be Up for Debate

I’m a women’s health nurse practitioner (NP) and educator at Emory University, teaching the next generation of NPs to care for individuals across the lifespan including for the sexual and reproductive healthcare needs.

From the first over-the-counter birth control hitting the shelves, to attacks on FDA-approved drugs, it’s felt like whiplash for reproductive freedoms in this country.