Abortion in the USA: On the border of Illinois and Missouri, pro-life and pro-choice clash

The Mississippi River divides the Saint-Louis metropolitan area into two parts. To the west, on the Missouri side, is the city of Saint-Louis, the capital of the blues, founded in 1764 by a French fur trader in memory of Louis IX, dominated by a majestic arch, symbolizing the door to the west. . On the other side, on the Illinois side, is East St. Louis, a declining industrial municipality.

These days, the river seems to rather separate the two Americas. If the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973, Missouri, a Republican state with a large evangelical population, will immediately ban voluntary abortion (IVG), with a few exceptions. For its part, Illinois, a Democratic state in the Midwest, has already confirmed that all abortion candidates will be welcome in its territory.

→ EXPLANATION. What is Roe v. Wade, the ruling on which abortion rights in the US are based?

An illustration of the divisions that loom between pro- and anti-abortion states, the conflict between the two neighbors is not new. In Missouri, the number of clinics has dropped dramatically. We are talking about the establishment of strict regulatory barriers (the obligation for doctors to have benefits when admitted to local hospitals, the minimum width of corridors, the size of doors, etc.). In 2020, only 167 abortions were performed at the last public clinic in Saint-Louis. This is a 97% drop in ten years. “In fact, we already live in a caviar-free world,” breathes Mallory Schwartz, director of the Pro Choice Missouri association.

“The most disadvantaged segments of the population will suffer the most”

So for years, women crossed the Mississippi to take advantage of the more favorable laws in Illinois. Some go to the women’s clinic “Nadezhda”, located next to the steel plant, a few minutes from the border. The women who follow her are poor and almost all African American. “The most disadvantaged populations will suffer the most from a ban on abortion,” says Alison Dreit, head of the Midwest Access Coalition (MAC) partnership.

→ REPORT. Abortion in the USA: “I didn’t think that I would have to fight for women’s rights in 2022”

It’s time to “strengthen” for this Ilinua-based organization that covers the costs of the poorest patients. “Since the release in early May of the Supreme Court working paper (proposing to set aside the Roe v. Wade ruling, editor’s note), donations have skyrocketed. Now we plan to develop a strategy to raise more funds and grow. »

She’s not the only one getting organized. ThriVe also operates in Saint-Louis. In its bright, modern building, this maternity center offers an alternative to abortion. This allows pregnant women to access various services (parenting courses, housing, health care, social assistance, medical tests, etc.) in the hope that they will opt out of having an abortion. The team prides itself on being non-moralistic, a flaw that sometimes does a disservice to the pro-life movement, which is seen as too aggressive towards women. “We have a Good Samaritan approach,” says charismatic African-American director Bridget Van Means.

There will be numerous legal battles between the states

Structures of this type, often supported by Christian organizations, are proliferating. “The fight against abortion is the great humanitarian problem of our time. There are many wealthy donors willing to fund care structures for desperate women because they believe in the value of life from the moment of conception,” says Bridget Van Means.

With a presence in six states, ThriVe wants to “quickly” expand across the country, in part through telemedicine. “Hundreds of thousands of women across the country who have been told ‘my body, my choice’ all their lives will feel stressed or even angry that they no longer have access to abortion. Therefore, we need to increase our resources to respond to the increase in volume. »

Endless legal battles

The Supreme Court’s final ruling on abortion is due in June, but questions are already flying around Mississippi. In March, Missouri Conservative Congresswoman Mary Elizabeth Coleman proposed allowing ordinary citizens to sue individuals who help Missouri women have abortions in another state. An unprecedented situation in recent American history where the federal states do not have the right to legislate outside their borders.

“The fact that life is less secure depending on where you are in the country is a misconception. And the idea that you have to kill your child in order to achieve economic success is disgusting! “An elected Catholic, a mother of six children, who has become the face of the struggle for life in Missouri, insists.

→ EXPLANATION. In the United States, the ongoing battles over abortion

An abortion professor at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, David Cohen, fears that the dismissal of Roe v. Wade will lead to endless legal battles between states. Especially since the advent of telemedicine and medical abortion, which can be performed using mail-order pills, increases the temptation of conservative states to pass unprecedented laws with extraterritorial effect. “If Roe v. Wade ends, we will see states take a lot of extreme measures to restrict the movement of patients or criminalize women who have abortions,” he said.


American public opinion is ready to compromise

►On Saturday, May 14, demonstrations are planned on the streets of many American cities in support of the legalization of abortion at the call of several organizations.

►Public opinion appears to be fairly conciliatory: according to a poll published in early May by the Pew Research Center, less than one in three Americans favor legalization or ban without exception.

►Still, according to this poll, 61% of Americans think abortion should be legal, a figure that has been relatively stable since 1995.

►As with many other social issues, the gap between Democrats and Republicans is significant and more pronounced than fifteen years ago: eight out of ten Democrats are in favor of legal abortion (63% in 2007), and only 38% among Republicans (39% in 2007).


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