It is no one’s patriotic duty to have children for the sake of economic security.

The truth is that Social Security will continue to be strong, regardless of the birthrate. Indeed, Democrats have introduced several bills expanding Social Security, with no cuts, while bringing in enough new revenue to ensure that the system can pay all benefits in full and on time for the foreseeable future.
Jer123 /

Recently, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the media about a drop in the U.S. birthrate. Exhibit A is a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal on why many millennials aren’t having children. Smuggled into the piece were several paragraphs of fear-mongering, claiming that the lower birth rate endangers Social Security. Importantly, nowhere did the word “immigration” appear—a fatal omission.

The truth is that Social Security will continue to be strong, regardless of the birthrate. Indeed, Democrats have introduced several bills expanding Social Security, with no cuts, while bringing in enough new revenue to ensure that the system can pay all benefits in full and on time for the foreseeable future. One of these bills, the Social Security 2100 Act, has more than 200 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. It is fully paid for, in part by, requiring millionaires and billionaires to contribute into Social Security at the same rate as the rest of us do.

To be sure, the Wall Street Journal article does not directly cite the availability of birth control or abortion as a cause for fear around Social Security. Yet the unnecessary panic over the birthrate is particularly ill-timed given the passage of recent laws in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio that would ban abortion in all or nearly all circumstances. None of the laws have taken effect yet due to legal challenges, but given how many new judges President Donald Trump has appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts, that could change soon.

With Republicans waging an ongoing war on our reproductive rights, it’s more important than ever to make it clear that politicians—predominantly men—should not force anyone to have children. Politicians should not override the will of those they are supposed to serve. It is no one’s patriotic duty to have children; nor should it be the policy of the United States to conscript our bodies and force us to bear children against our will for the sake of economic security (or for any other reason, for that matter.)

Instead of waging war on women, those who claim to care about the dignity of their fellow humans should address some of the economic reasons that prevent some people, including those quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, from having children. That is the only real problem with a lower birthrate. It is a preventable tragedy in our wealthy country that those who very much want to have children are being forced to forgo that dream due to financial burdens. These include stagnant wages, student debt, soaring health care costs, lack of affordable housing, and the outrageous cost of child care.

Those who wring their hands at today’s low birthrates should join the fight for a living wage, guaranteed high-quality health care, free public college and cancellation of student debt, and paid family leave. They should support Social Security caregiving credits, which would allow people who take time out of the paid workforce to care for children or other family members to continue to earn their Social Security.

They should be fighting to reject the anti-immigration policies championed by Trump and his allies, and instead welcome immigrants. Immigration is a moral issue, not merely one about Social Security and the economy. Nevertheless, as Social Security’s chief actuary has explained in testimony before Congress, immigrants bring in billions of dollars net to Social Security every year. In fact, an analysis by the Office of the Actuary published in 2013 found that undocumented workers alone contributed approximately $12 billion to Social Security in 2010.

Rather than indulging in misogyny and xenophobia, they should fight for policies that would expand Social Security’s earned benefits and other programs that increase the health and well-being of families in the United States. They should also require the wealthy to pay their fair share. Given that many millennials are rightfully wary of bringing children into a world facing the catastrophic impacts of climate change, they should endorse the Green New Deal and other bold policies to save life on our planet.

If the media wants to stimulate fear for clicks and ratings, there is plenty to focus on without exploiting unwarranted fears about Social Security and private decisions regarding childbearing. If you are worried about the real threats of climate change, gun violence, and endless war, fight for change. If you are worried about your retirement security, fight to expand—not cut—Social Security.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged millions towards sex-ed and reproductive rights worldwide

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has established a policy mandating that groups that apply for youth employment grants support abortion rights.

The policy has angered religious groups from many faiths as well as drawn ire from American conservatives.

Canada Summer Jobs grant applicants must check a box on their forms stating they support human rights, including “reproductive rights”.

Mr Trudeau has dismissed the backlash as a “kerfuffle”.

What is the controversial policy?

A new clause in the grant application for the Canada Summer Jobs programme and the Youth Service Corps demands that applicants check a box that says:

“My organisation’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada… these include reproductive rights and the rights to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”

The jobs programme funds some 70,000 summer jobs for youths between the ages of 15-30.

The clause was added after the government was forced to pay a court settlement to three anti-abortion groups after it denied them funding in 2017.

Is it a surprise?

Mr Trudeau has made it no secret that he adamantly supports reproductive rights.

When he first became leader of the Liberal Party in 2014, he banned anti-abortion candidates from running for office and insisted that all party members vote in favour of pro-choice.

Former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFormer White House staffer Sebastian Gorka is critical of the policy

“Of course, you’re more than allowed to have whatever beliefs you like,” Mr Trudeau said during a town hall in Hamilton, Ontario last week.

“But when those beliefs lead to actions determined to restrict a woman’s right to control her own body, that’s where I, and I think we, draw the line as a country. And that’s where we stand on that.”

How has it been received in Canada?

Pro-choice groups have applauded the decision, but many religious organisations and anti-abortion groups are outraged.

The Toronto Right to Life Association has already filed suit alleging discrimination, just months after the government settled with the group for also denying them funding last year.

Other religious groups who do not actively campaign against abortion have expressed concern that the policy penalises people for their beliefs.

“It requires an evaluation of employers based not on what they’re going to do, but who they are and what they believe,” says Ray Pennings, the executive vice president for the non-partisan Christian think-tank Cardus.

Why is it making waves in the US?

The policy was debated on Fox News’ morning programme Fox and Friends, while former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka called Mr Trudeau “reprehensible” on Twitter.

On Fox and Friends, Jeanne Mancini, who organises the March for Life, said Mr Trudeau was “out of touch with mainstream America”.

“We’ve lost over 60 million Americans to abortion. To the prime minister, I would just really want to talk to him,” she said.

But it is not the first time Mr Trudeau has run afoul of US conservatives.

In 2017, US President Donald Trump cut funding for groups that provide abortion services, prompting Mr Trudeau to pledge $523m (C$650m; £376million) towards sex education and reproductive health initiatives around the world on International Women’s Day.


I say that as a husband, a Catholic, and the father of two daughters.

Jeremy Freeman/CNN

So far in 2019, 27 abortion bans have been enacted in 12 states. After Louisiana’s ban at six weeks’ gestation, Missouri’s at eight weeks, and Alabama’s near total ban, I’ve seen the outpouring of action by women, sharing their most personal stories and missing school and work to protest. But men have been largely silent.

We can’t just sit on the sidelines while women work to protect reproductive rights. If men support a woman’s right to choose, they need to get up and support it. I say that as a husband, a man of faith, and especially as a parent blessed with two daughters and a son.

My family is Catholic. I know well the Catholic teachings. It’s been easy for me to separate my faith from the laws in our country because we don’t live in a theocracy. We live in a democratic, secular state, where the burden is not to find a way to impose your faith on others. It’s the exact opposite—democracy is about making sure nobody can enforce their beliefs on you or anyone else. In a democracy we rely on science and data to guide our decisions. If we were to rely on religion, how could we ever decide when life starts? Catholics are taught it begins at conception; Jews say it begins around 40 days. Other faiths say something else, so what are you going to pick? You might think you win today if you’re Christian and your beliefs inform our jurisprudence on a woman’s control of her own body, but what happens when this country is majority atheist, or majority Muslim, or majority something else, and they turn and put their beliefs on you? That’s why you don’t play that game.

It’s tricky to explain all of this to my kids. I know we’re raising them in a faith that, frankly, looks down on women, says women can’t have equal roles, can’t have equal power. And parents know: You can’t fool kids. My answer? What’s fundamental is the source of your faith. Believe in a wisdom bigger than your own; believe the simple message of God: love, mercy. That’s what I’ve tried to teach.

Coming to an understanding about faith doesn’t make navigating today’s politics any easier. In May my oldest daughter asked to march in New York City to support abortion rights. At first I had reservations; I worried about her safety, but I also wanted to understand why she was going. She was processing it as well. She told me, “If I were to get pregnant today”—not something any father wants to contemplate about his 16-year-old—“I could have an abortion and I wouldn’t have to tell you.” Yes, that’s true under New York state law, I told her, and we talked about whether kids should be able to make those kinds of decisions without their parents. We talked about how I think it’s always important to come to us about big things like this, because you get to make a choice only once, and you have to make sure it’s the right one for you.

Her reply: “But why should any man be able to tell me how I can treat my own body? Am I equal to you or not? Because nobody’s telling you what to do with your body.” I explained how some people believe that the life inside a woman should be recognized as a person with legal rights, and she pointed to the science, the viability standard of when a fetus could survive outside the womb, which was part of the decision in Roe v. Wade. This was like many of our discussions about faith and democracy: Your faith might tell you to reject the science, but that does not mean you get to change the law.

pChris Cuomo with his wife Cristina Greeven Cuomo and their three childrenp
Chris Cuomo with his wife, Cristina Greeven Cuomo, and their three children

Courtesy of Chris Cuomo

One of the first cases that came up after Roe affirmed that women could make their own decision. Planned Parenthood v. Caseyasked whether or not a woman had to tell her husband before she got an abortion. Why? Because the idea that she needed permission was an extension of our patriarchal society, the notion that a woman is chattel and does what a man says. I’ve raised my daughter to never, ever seek a man’s approval for anything.

I used to joke that I was a shotgun-and-shovel kind of guy: If you’re coming to my house to date my daughter, you better be hands-up and have packed a lunch because it’s going to be a long day for you. But I evolved because, as she got older, I realized that I didn’t want to insulate her—I wanted to equip her to make the best choices. Now I tell her: You do whatever you want as long as it’s on your own terms. And if you’re not sure, you can talk to me or talk to your mom (she’s the smarter one anyway).

The cascade of abortion bans completely contradict what I’ve told her that her reality should be. I’ve always tried to make her feel assured that there are no limitations on who she wants to be. That nobody gets to define her except herself. This is not about being pro-choice or pro-life—that’s not an accurate reflection of what this fight is about. This is about pro-women’s-choice and anti-women’s-choice. There are people who believe women should not have this choice. That’s what motivated her to go down and march—her fear for herself, her future.

I let her go to the march. She stopped by my office afterward, safe, tired, and hopeful. My fears, however, haven’t dissipated. I worry, of course, that she’ll lose the right to control her body and reproductive health. But increasingly that’s the least of my concerns. If we allow our society to decide that people don’t have determination over their life, their future, their body, where does it end? Where will that lead us? If you can tell somebody, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, you can’t have this procedure,” what’s next? We don’t know. Maybe: We’ve decided we don’t like physical augmentation either; we don’t like you changing how you look because it’s not how God made you. We’ve decided you must always submit to men, to your husbands, because that’s what scripture says. And on and on.

I’m also afraid for her generation and how this might jaundice their views of our democracy. What is a more powerful and corrosive way to make people not want to participate than to rob them of their most personal, intimate, and profound choices? How can we move forward when a generation could feel so disempowered from making decisions?

The parenting struggle I have now is that I have to help my daughter understand that she lives in a society that doesn’t necessarily agree about what’s best for her. That’s not easy. I tell her she has a right to feel the way she does, and that sometimes you have to fight for things that you shouldn’t have to fight for at all.

But I’ve also told her I will fight with her. I will ask men to stand alongside her and her fellow protesters. Nobody’s saying we want abortions because we’re in the people-killing business. Nobody’s happy to have an abortion. We’ve had difficult pregnancies; we’ve had things not go our way. We’ve had to agonize about what to do. We know the pain of it. My wife had to suffer, and I suffered by her side. There’s a pain in the powerlessness of how little we men can help.

As men, we must listen to women’s fears, concerns, and considerations. We cannot be deafened only by the sound of faith. If you are a man of faith, consider whether or not it’s right to thrust your religion on others. Start there. If you’re not doing everything your faith tells you to do every single day, be very slow to talk about how anyone else should live.

Men say they cherish women. But more often than not they don’t want to cherish; they want to control. That’s what you have to ask yourself as a man: Do you want to create a situation that is fair and just, or do you want control? That’s a big distinction. Are you man enough to respect women as your equal, as a partner? If you truly cherish women, cherish their wisdom to make their own choices.


The bill repeals Illinois laws that placed restrictions on abortion, and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Abortion access activists rally in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

As states across the US pass laws restricting access to abortion, Illinois passed legislation declaring a pregnant person has a “fundamental right” to terminate their pregnancy and stating that a “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights.”

The new legislation, passed Friday, repeals a 1975 state law that required spousal consent, waiting periods, placed restrictions on abortion facilities, and outlined procedures for pursuing criminal charges against abortion providers. The bill also rolls back some state restrictions on late-term abortions by repealing Illinois’ Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Chicago Tribune reported. Many provisions in the two newly negated laws had not been enforced due to court injunctions, according to the paper.

“We’re not going back,” said Sen. Melinda Bush, who sponsored the bill in the Illinois Senate, as she argued for the bill. “We’re not going back to coat hangers, we’re not going back to dying. We’re not going back. And I am proud to say Illinois is a beacon for women’s rights, for human rights.”

Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker said he would sign the bill, called the Reproductive Health Act; it passed the Illinois House of Representatives early last week and Friday night the Senate voted 34-20 to approve it.

Illinois lawmakers pointed to the possibility of a conservative Supreme Court majority overturning Roe v. Wade as a reason for choosing to shore up abortion rights on a state level now.

“We can no longer rely on bad law protected by federal injunctions,” said Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who sponsored the bill in the House.

Cassidy told her colleagues that a medically necessary abortion in her first pregnancy saved her life and allowed her to go on to become a mother to her three sons. She also criticized Illinois’ neighboring states that have recently passed restrictive abortion laws.

“To our neighbors in Illinois who hear the news around the country and worry that this war on women is coming to Illinois, I say, not on my watch,” Cassidy said. “To the people in Missouri and Alabama and Georgia and Kentucky and Mississippi and Ohio, I say, not on my watch.”

New, restrictive abortion laws are cropping up across the country

The move to expand abortion rights in Illinois comes as states including Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi have all passed laws restricting access to abortion. Lawmakers in some of those states have said they championed the restrictive laws in the hope of triggering court challenges that will force the US Supreme Court to revisit its Roe v. Wade decision, which guarantees a Constitutional right to abortion. These lawmakers believe the court’s new conservative majority will overturn Roe.

In May, Alabama passed the “Human Life Protection Act,” which criminalizes all abortion. Doctors who perform abortions under the ban could be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison unless the pregnant person faces serious health complications that place their life at risk. The law makes no exceptions for cases in which a pregnant person seeks an abortion after rape or incest.

Alabama now has the nation’s strictest abortion law, but other states have also severely narrowed abortion access through the passage of so-called “heartbeat bills” that ban abortions after doctors are able to detect a fetal heartbeat. Heartbeats can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many know they are pregnant.

Ohio passed its heartbeat abortion ban in April and was quickly followed by Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Heartbeat bills in some states — like in North DakotaArkansasIowaKentucky, and Mississippi — have been blocked by courts. Ohio’s ban is currently facing a legal challenge. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are among the parties suing to prevent the heartbeat laws from going into effect.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund reports that so far in 2019, there have been 300 anti-abortion bills introduced in 36 states.

“This is an extremely dangerous time for women’s health all around the country,” Leana Wen, president of the Action Fund, told the Washington Post.

Anti-abortion activists hope to overturn Roe v. Wade, but last week, the Supreme Court signaled it is not quite ready to address the landmark ruling. In its decision regarding an abortion law passed by Illinois’ neighbor, Indiana, justices struck down one provision while affirming another part of the law, largely avoiding the question of whether abortion should be legal.

As Vox’s Anna North reported:

In a case involving an Indiana abortion law, the justices gave a kind of compromise ruling, according to the Washington Post. They allowed one portion of the law, which requires that fetal remains be buried or cremated, to stand. But they declined to take up another portion of the law, which bans abortions based on the fetus’s sex, race, or diagnosis of a disability. As a result, a lower court’s decision to strike that portion of the law will stand, and the ban will not go into effect.

The decision was hotly anticipated because if the Court had decided to hear the case, it could have been an opportunity for the justices to revisit Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established Americans’ right to an abortion. Abortion opponents around the country are eager to see the Court overturn the decision, but previous moves have suggested that the justices aren’t ready to weigh in yet. Tuesday’s decision was more of the same.

But in a concurring statement, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Court would need to make a decision soon on laws like Indiana’s. His words were a reminder that while a Supreme Court battle over abortion isn’t happening today, it might not be far in the future.

The laws are also having the effect of limiting access to abortion. In Missouri, which last week passed a law banning abortion after eight weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest, there is only one abortion provider left. And that provider — a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis — was almost forced to close after state lawmakers refused to renew its license, citing its “deficient practices.” The state said that if all of its physicians submitted to interviews, it might be able to keep its license; however, doctors refused to comply for fear the interviews could lead to criminal prosecutions, North reported.

A judge’s temporary restraining order issued Friday will keep the clinic open — for now. The next hearing in the case comes on June 4; should Planned Parenthood lose its case, the people of Missouri will have to travel to another state, like Illinois, for abortion care.

Other states in addition to Illinois are working to protect access to abortion rights. Some 13 states including New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Nevada have proposed bills to include a right to abortion in their Constitutions. While many of those efforts are still in their early stages, Vermont passed a bill to include the protection in its Constitution last week.


If the Trump administration gets its way, be prepared for an outpouring of stories that bear a resemblance to this one, but don’t wrap up so neatly.

A coworker recently asked me where she should go to get an IUD, and I told her to steer clear of Georgetown University Hospital. But where can I tell her to go now? Where is safe?

I’ve always had a contentious relationship with contraception. When I started taking the pill at 18 years old, I could feel something in my body shifting, perhaps irrevocably. My breasts grew two sizes, making exercise uncomfortable and inviting commentary from the opposite sex that made me feel unsafe. My posture worsened as I tried to hide the alien entities, and my moods felt out of control and unpredictable. After eight years on the pill, I was in a stable, monogamous relationship—about to get married, in fact—and ready to see what life might be like without a hormonal contraceptive.

I was nervous and excited about the consult for my first intrauterine device (IUD) at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. After a brief conversation, Dr. Case (a pseudonym) asked me to get off the exam table and follow her to her office for a “chat.” But in her office, when the door was safely shut, my excitement slowly started to fade. “Well, first things first, this is a Catholic hospital,” she said in a mock whisper.

“Oh,” I said, not hiding my surprise. She explained that Georgetown University Hospital does not prescribe birth control for the sole purpose of preventing pregnancy. “Do you have heavy cramping?” she asked. “Because we could prescribe hormonal birth control for heavy cramping.”

“No, I don’t have heavy cramping,” I said, wondering how on earth I had ended up in this situation. A month earlier, I had set up an appointment at MedStar Health for a physical. After two years of living abroad, I had a lot of questions about some symptoms I found troubling; hair loss and fatigue I thought could be linked to a thyroid problem. “Most young, menstruating women are a little anemic,” the doctor responded when I told him about my symptoms. Perhaps I should have left right then. But my main aim was a referral to a gynecologist so that I could get Paragard, a copper IUD. He seemed delighted in my decision, even saying he wanted to learn how to put in IUDs himself, and wrote me a referral to the woman I was now chatting with at Georgetown University Hospital.

Dr. Case went on to explain that when she took this gig, she knew it would mean she wouldn’t be able to help young women in all the ways she wanted to. But there was a workaround. She ripped a piece of paper in half and wrote a phone number on it in blue pen. “Call this number,” she said, passing me the paper in a way I can only describe as illicit.

I was confused by the process, and the implications of what it meant to be a woman asking for reproductive health services at a Catholic hospital, and Dr. Case could tell. She gave me detailed instructions about how to connect with a provider who could give me the contraception I sought.

Afterward, looking at the ring on my finger, she said, “Tell me about your fiancé.” I gave her the spiel: We’d been together for seven years, on and off, and we were getting married in the winter.

“And why do you want an IUD?” she asked.

“We’re hoping to start trying for kids in five to six years, so the timing would be perfect for me,” I said.

She gasped. “Well, that makes me sad!”

“Excuse me?” I said, wondering if I’d heard correctly.

“You’ve been with this man for seven years; you’re the perfect age to have children. It makes me so sad.”

In my shock, I told her the first thing I could think of: the truth.

“We recently decided not to get a cat, because if the cat got sick, we don’t think we could cover possible medical bills.”

I wasn’t trying to be funny. The silence in the room took on a palpable form.

She looked at my chart, trying to ease the tension. “Well, you could still safely start conceiving until you’re 32,” she said with a shrug. Though my head was spinning, it wasn’t lost on me that she was passing judgment rather than stating fact. While fertility rates do begin to decline after age 35 for most people, many women over 40 have successfully conceived.

On my way out of the labyrinthian building, I scrunched up the unofficial paper in my hand. The ripped edges felt sharp against my skin. In the Uber ride home, after paying transportation to and from my apartment to a world-class hospital and forking over a $50 copay for unsolicited advice about my vagina, I cried.

When I told the story to my fiancé, he was indignant. Friends couldn’t believe it. Some wouldn’t believe it. “Doctors don’t say that,” some said. “Is that even legal?” asked others.

At first, I blamed myself. Clearly, I hadn’t done my homework. ‘There must be clear verbiage on the website,” I thought. After a frustrating hour-long search, here’s a summary of what I found:

  • Georgetown University Hospital was ranked #1 Hospital in the Washington Region by U.S. News & World Report for three years in a row, including 2018-2019.
  • Georgetown University Hospital was founded in the Jesuit principle of cura personalis—caring for the whole person—and it’s stated mission is “to provide physical and spiritual comfort to our patients and families.”
  • Georgetown University Hospital puts the patient first: “We strive to deliver the best to every patient every day. The patient is the first priority in everything we do.”
  • Georgetown University Hospital values respect: “We treat each individual, those we serve and those with whom we work, with the highest professionalism and dignity.”
  • Georgetown University Hospital values professionalism: “We project a professional image at all times and demonstrate expertise in our professional practice.”
  • Georgetown University Hospital believes that patients have rights and responsibilities: “You have the right to respectful and considerate care and to be free from neglect, exploitation, abuse, or harassment. You have the right to receive treatment without discrimination as to age, race, ethnicity, color, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual preference or orientation, national origin, disability, gender identity or expression or socio-economic status.”

Here’s what I did not find: Any language that stipulates Georgetown University Hospital adheres to religious directives issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops governing Catholic health services and will prohibit a range of reproductive health services, including contraception, sterilization, many infertility treatments, and abortion care.

But it does adhere to religious directives. And it does prohibit a range of reproductive health services, including the insertion of the IUD that I sought. Changes to the site since I first checked now reflect that fact. (I also confirmed in a phone call to the hospital this week that it only prescribes contraception for medical purposes—such as constant bleeding, long periods—and not if someone seeks birth control solely because they don’t want to get pregnant.)

Even so, why, when I asked my doctor for a referral to a gynecologist so that I could get Paragard, a form of contraception that exclusively prevents unwanted pregnancy, did he send me to a Catholic hospital? And why aren’t patients given more information about what it means for a hospital to follow religious directives?

The answer to that question may no longer be as important as I once thought. On May 2, the Trump administration issued a final “conscience rule” granting protection to health-care professionals who refuse to provide care that violates their religious beliefs. The future seems clear: Already vulnerable groups—women and members of the LGBTQ community, especially in underserved and rural areas where access to family planning and reproductive services is already a systemic issue—will be most affected. But this will affect all of us.

A co-worker recently asked me where she should go to get an IUD, and I told her to steer clear of Georgetown University Hospital. But where can I tell her to go now? Where is safe?

Months later, during a pregnancy scare, I decided to get the copper IUD for emergency contraception. But also because I still wanted it. Despite the shaming experience at the No. 1 hospital in the nation’s capital, I still knew my own mind. We found an abortion clinic, carafem, that took my insurance, didn’t require referrals, and offered same-day insertion.

In the midwife’s comfortable office, my story came out slowly, then all at once. She made no effort to hide her disgust. “Friends told me I should share this, but I was really, really ashamed,” I told her. She called my fiancé into the room and told both of us that no matter how long it took me to muster the courage to tell this story, I should. Because no woman needs a reason to not want to have a child right now. Or ever.

Unfortunately, this safe, supportive environment for women who know their own minds may soon be only a comforting memory. In February, the Trump administration released the text of its rule barring any clinic that provides or refers patients for abortions, clinics like carafem, from federal family planning funds under Title X. A federal judge did issue a nationwide injunction in April, preventing the rule from taking effect, but President Trump is only ramping up his anti-contraception and anti-abortion rhetoric.

Reproductive health-care clinics like carafem and Planned Parenthood are often the only option for low-income people across the country. If the Trump administration gets its way, be prepared for an outpouring of stories that bear a resemblance to this one, but don’t wrap up so neatly.


A St. Louis circuit judge granted Planned Parenthood a restraining order against the state on Friday afternoon, allowing the abortion clinic to continue operating even after Missouri health officials had refused to renew the clinic’s license.

Had the license lapsed, the clinic would have been forced to stop providing the procedure, effectively ending legal abortion in the state. Missouri would have become the first state to not have a legal abortion clinic since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

On Friday afternoon St. Louis circuit judge Michael Stelzer wrote “a temporary restraining order is necessary to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable injury” to Planned Parenthood, which had “demonstrated that Immediate and irreparable injury will result” if the license expired.

“This is a huge victory,” said Dr. David Eisenberg, the clinic’s medical director, in a press conference on Friday afternoon. “It is my duty to protect and serve the patients that come here no matter what.”

In an interview with CBSN, Dr. Leana Wen, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “We want our patients to know that we will never abandon the women of Missouri.”

Wen tweeted after the ruling: “This is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over. We have seen just how vulnerable access to abortion care is in Missouri—and in the rest of the country. We’ll keep fighting these attempts to end access to healthcare—no matter what.”

Planned Parenthood will be back in court on June 4 to ask the court for a preliminary injunction. Missouri Governor Mike Parson said state officials will pursue their case in court.

“Following today’s ruling, the State will soon have the opportunity for a prompt legal review of our state health regulators’ serious health and safety concerns regarding Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility in St. Louis,” Parson said in a statement Friday afternoon. “We are committed to and take seriously our duty to ensure that all health facilities in Missouri follow the law, abide by regulations, and protect the safety of patients.”

Friday’s decision comes after several weeks of back and forth between the clinic at Missouri’s state health department. The agency had refused to renew Planned Parenthood’s license to perform abortions unless it could complete an investigation into the clinic, including interviews with seven physicians who worked at the clinic.

Planned Parenthood said it could offer interviews only with two who are its employees. The other five physicians working at the facility are residents in training and not employed by Planned Parenthood. The state has indicated that the result of those interviews could be “board review” in addition to “criminal proceedings,” a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood said. The medical residents declined to be interviewed for the state’s investigation.

In a letter to Planned Parenthood and reviewed by CBS News, the Department of Health wrote that it could not “complete our investigation until it interviews the physicians involved in the care provided in the potential deficient practices,” and that “the investigation needs to be completed and any deficiencies resolved before the expiration of [the clinic’s] license on May 31, 2019.”

Dr. Colleen McNicholas, a Planned Parenthood physician in St. Louis who agreed to be interviewed by the state, said the agency hasn’t shared details of the investigation or the potential concerns.

“We are 100 percent committed to the best care that we can provide for patients. So certainly if there is an issue with the care we’re providing we want to know about it,” she said. “We want to be able to address that. But we can’t do that when we’re being attacked.”


The state joins others in banning the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Protesters dressed as characters from The Handmaid’s Tale march through the French Quarter of New Orleans on May 25, 2019, demonstrating against a bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Emily Kask/AFP/Getty Images

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday signed into law a bill banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, one of many near-total bans on abortion to pass around the country in recent months.

The bill, which has no exceptions for rape or incest, would ban abortion as early as six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant. It passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill states that it will not take effect unless a similar law in Mississippi, which has been challenged in court, is upheld.

Most of the recent abortion bans passed in other states have been sponsored by Republican state legislators, but Louisiana’s was authored by a Democrat, according to the New York Times. Edwards, a longtime abortion opponent, is also a Democrat.

Though the party affiliation of its backers is somewhat unique, the bill is similar to legislation passed in Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, and Georgia this year. Meanwhile, Alabama passed a law banning abortion at any stage of pregnancy. None of these laws have yet gone into effect, and many of them have been challenged in court.

But in many cases, that’s the point: Backers of the legislation hope it will serve as a vehicle for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing any state in the country to ban abortion if it so chooses.

The law is part of a larger effort to overturn Roe

The Louisiana law is part of a wave of “heartbeat” bills around the country, beginning late last year.

While the bills share a common source — model legislation written by the group Faith2Action — they differ in the penalties they impose and exceptions they offer. Louisiana’s version contains exceptions only for abortions necessary to prevent a pregnant person’s death or the “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” or if a pregnancy is “medically futile” and the fetus will not survive past birth, according to CNN. Doctors who violate the law could face up to two years in prison.

Some anti-abortion bills passed recently, such as a ban on abortion at any stage of pregnancy in Alabama, contain language that ensures pregnant people themselves will not face criminal penalties for seeking abortion. Louisiana’s law does not appear to contain such language, meaning that pregnant people who perform their own abortions with medication could potentially face criminal penalties under the law.

In general, heartbeat bills do not cite a specific gestational time limit for abortions, but reproductive rights groups say they amount to a ban on abortion at about six weeks’ gestation. That’s when a doctor can detect “a flicker of cardiac motion” on a transvaginal ultrasound, according to Dr. Catherine Romanos, a doctor who performs abortions in Ohio and a fellow with the group Physicians for Reproductive Health.

Six weeks’ gestation is just shortly after most pregnant women miss their first period, meaning many women don’t know they are pregnant at this stage.

Some reproductive rights groups argue that the term “heartbeat” bill is a misnomer since the fetus does not yet have a heart at six weeks’ gestation — the cardiac activity detectable at that time comes from tissue called the fetal pole, as OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter has writtenPlanned Parenthood refers to the bills as six-week bans.

Several architects of recent anti-abortion bills have said they hope to challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the right to an abortion. But it’s not clear if the effort will succeed. As Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, told Vox earlier this month, the Supreme Court has signaled that it wants to move slowly when it comes to revisiting Roe.

When it does so, it will have many options — more than a dozen abortion cases are already one step away from the Court, and the justices could use any one of them to reexamine Roe. Many observers think it’s more likely that the Court will choose to weaken the protections inRoe, giving states more leeway to restrict the procedure.

Still, abortion is already out of reach for many and could become more difficult to access even if Roe remains intact. Due to increasing restrictions on clinics and a dispute with state regulators, the last abortion clinic in Missouri could close as soon as this week.

As of February, there were three abortion clinics operating in Louisiana, a state with more than 1 million people of reproductive age who can become pregnant.