Now What? 10 Actions Nurses Can Take After Roe v. Wade Overturn
- On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
- Abortions will be banned in about half of the states in the U.S.
- Healthcare providers are anticipating challenges related to unsafe abortion care, including increases in maternal deaths.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion bans went into effect automatically in about 13 states due to trigger bans. Another 13 states are moving quickly to make abortions illegal.
Healthcare professionals are concerned that people seeking abortions will no longer have access to safe ways to terminate a pregnancy. They're expecting this overturn to impact patients' access to the quality care they need.
Discover how you can take actionable steps as a nurse to support patients seeking abortion care in both the short and long term.
Actions Nurses Can Take After Roe. v. Wade Overturn
1. Donate to Local Abortion Funds
People in marginalized communities already face many challenges related to abortion care. Nurses say they'll be hurt the most by bans. Many people will have to travel long distances to get a legal abortion, a daunting barrier to safe care.
Experts worry that between a lack of familial support, education, and resources, abortion-seekers will make unsafe decisions to terminate pregnancies.
Lauren Haines is a board-certified family nurse practitioner in sexual health services. She works part time providing abortion care, and volunteers as an abortion clinic escort. She says the legal changes will make it "more frustrating and difficult for middle class and upper middle class" but "nearly impossible for people of lower socioeconomic status to obtain a legal abortion."
Fortunately, organizations like the National Network of Abortion Funds are available to help financially support people in marginalized communities or anti-abortion states. These funds help offset the cost of abortions, covering expenses related to travel and healthcare. Many states use the funds for abortion doula services so that a person doesn't have to go through the experience alone.
If you'd like to support people in your community, consider donating to local, independent abortion funds. Unlike well-funded, national organizations like Planned Parenthood, local abortion funds don't have access to major grants and donors.
Here's how you can donate to abortion funds in your state.
2. Donate to Practical Support Organizations
Practical support organizations focus on community-based care for people seeking abortions. They assist with logistical needs like getting hotel rooms, transportation, and child care throughout the abortion process.
Apiary for Practical Support is an organization that centralizes logistical support for people who need abortions. They coordinate volunteers who assist abortion-seekers by:
- Donating airline vouchers
- Giving people rides to abortion clinics
- Offering up extra rooms in their house
Through Apiary, you can find local practical support to donate your time or money.
3. Support or Volunteer at an Independent Abortion Clinic
As an abortion clinic escort, Haines helps people seeking abortions have as smooth an experience as possible. Clinic escorts accompany abortion-seekers to the appointment, helping shield them from protestors and picketers. Abortion clinic volunteers may also assist with data entry and provide health education.
In states where abortions will remain legal, healthcare providers anticipate higher volumes of patients seeking abortion care. If you're a nurse in one of these places, you can show your support by volunteering or working part time at an abortion clinic.
Another way to give is donating to charities that keep abortion clinics running. The Keep Our Clinics campaign helps cover costs associated with running an independent practice. Funds are put toward items like building repairs, security, and community education.
4. Stand With Your Local Community
Monica Skoko Rodriguez has spent their nursing career focused on community health and women's health policy. They recently became the director of medical standards for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. They say that while they feel hopeless about the situation, they also feel empowered to do what's right for their community and patients.
During these challenging times, it's important to lean on your community for support. Nurses are the voice for patients within the community, serving as key patient advocates.
You can use your nursing expertise to educate neighbors and friends about the implications of abortion bans. You may also choose to use your voice at a local rally or protest. Always remember to follow safety regulations if you attend these events.
"My advice is to know you are not alone. There are so many of us in this fight right alongside you," Skoko Rodriguez says. "You don't need to know all the answers, but just know there are people you can turn to that can help you get those answers."
5. Understand and Share Accurate Information on Obtaining Care
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, laws have changed quickly. Many abortion clinics have closed their doors. As a nurse, it's important to keep yourself informed about the unfolding situation in your area. In some states, healthcare providers may face legal consequences for performing abortions.
Even if you don't regularly perform abortion care, you may encounter questions about options in your area. Keep yourself informed with accurate data to protect your patients and your nursing license.
"Clinics will be closed down, and much institutional knowledge about sexual and reproductive health will be lost, creating a lasting inequity in certain areas," Skoko Rodriguez says. "All nurses should expect many more questions about abortions, contraception, and sexual and reproductive health."
Here are some resources you can use to get up-to-date information about abortion care:
- Ineedana.com and Abortionfinder.org help abortion-seekers find a verified abortion provider and resources.
- Repro Legal Defense Fund covers bail and funds defenses for those who are prosecuted for self-managing their abortion outside of a clinical setting.
- Onlineabortionresources.org compiles accurate information to help people access an abortion.
- Plancpills.org has information for accessing and using abortion pills.
- All-options.org provides unbiased, judgment-free counseling.
- Linktr.ee/a.bortion has great resources for every community.
6. Understand Facts for Medication Abortion, Tubal Ligation
Now that abortions are banned in many states, healthcare providers might see higher demand for tubal ligations. Tubal ligation is a procedure that acts as a permanent form of birth control for people who do not want to become pregnant.
Haines has seen young patients requesting tubal ligations in the past. In her experience, providers refused to perform the procedure due to their age and lack of support.
"I think this will be much more of a fight to demand this care with Roe v. Wade being overturned," she says. "With reproductive health clinics now closing their doors, this service may be even harder to obtain."
As laws about reproductive care continue to change, people may wonder what options are still available to manage pregnancy. The abortion pill Mifepristone currently remains legal. The pill is taken up to 11 weeks after the first day of a missed period, as prescribed by a healthcare provider. Organizations like Mayday help people get abortion pills by mail for people with limited access to care.
Skoko Rodriguez wants people to know that abortion pills are safe and effective. They say Mifepristone "didn't exist prior to Roe v. Wade, so the landscape now is quite different than it was prior to 1972. Women have an option to safely manage their abortions prior to 12 weeks."
7. Seek Training in Abortion Care
Healthcare institutions are expecting a surge of overflow patients seeking abortion care from neighboring anti-abortion states. If you're a nurse in a state where abortions remain legal, you may consider becoming trained in abortion care.
The Training in Abortion Care residency gives nurses clinical training for abortion care. After completing this six-month residency, nurses are prepared to provide hands-on abortion care to patients. The program also helps nurses develop advocacy skills to use in the community.
8. Anticipate Requests for Emergency Contraception
Since Roe was overturned, Haines says she's already noticed people "stocking up" on oral contraception and abortion pills, but there are risks associated with this.
Healthcare providers can educate patients about drug expiration dates and the importance of taking it within the prescribed time frame.
Haines predicts healthcare providers will see a "big influx of in-person and telehealth visits for these contraceptive treatments out of both need and precaution."
9. Pressure Your Local Government
Nurses can pressure local governments to take legislative action to protect the right to abortion in your area. You can influence policy change by calling your local congressperson through platforms like 5 Calls.org.
Haines encourages nurses to use their experience in healthcare to affect real change in the community. Speak at your town halls and get involved in local nursing professional organizations.
"Nurses have much more experience in healthcare than most politicians, so we need to be the voice for our patients," she says.
Nurses can continue to support the elections of state representatives, local prosecutors, and judges who don't want to criminalize abortion care.
Some judges are currently working to block trigger laws in anti-abortion states. In Lousiana, this allowed an abortion clinic to stay open, protecting healthcare providers and aborition-seekers from legal implications.
Beyond this, it's important to understand that the people protect the people. Check on your neighbors and stay connected with your local community.
10. Take Care of Yourself
The overturning of Roe v. Wade is an emotional time for a lot of people. As a nurse, remember to focus on your well-being as you adjust to the changes ahead.
You may need to take time to process your emotions before you fully develop a response to the news. Use quality resources to educate yourself about how abortion laws affect you and your patients.
Take time away from social media if needed. This will help you create a sustainable long-term plan for involving yourself without getting burnt out.
Haines tells nurses not to feel ashamed for feeling reactive. She suggests taking time to rest, recharge, and get grounded. Nurses may find comfort in:
- Speaking to friends, family, or other healthcare providers
- Joining protests
- Contributing to fundraising efforts
"We need to take care of ourselves before we take care of anyone else, and there is no right or wrong way to do that," Haines says.
Meet Our Contributors
Lauren Haines, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Lauren Haines is a board-certified family nurse practitioner providing sexual health services for TBD Health, an innovative startup that offers at-home STI testing. She also works part time providing abortion care and volunteers as an abortion clinic escort. Haines started her medical career as a first responder, then earned her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Connecticut. She went on to work as an emergency room nurse and sexual assault nurse examiner. Haines earned her master's degree and FNP certification in 2014 and has experience working in sexual and reproductive health, telehealth, and nursing education.
Monica Skoko Rodriguez
Monica Skoko Rodriguez is a first-year doctor of nursing practice candidate in the executive leadership specialty at Duke University. Prior to Duke, Skoko Rodriguez earned a master's in public health from Johns Hopkins University in health policy and health communications, a bachelor's in nursing from University of Miami, and a bachelor's in fine arts from New York University. They recently became the director of medical standards for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and before that served as the executive director of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women. Previously, they worked as a nurse in Title I schools, a nurse at Planned Parenthood, an oncology nurse, a health disparities researcher with the NIH, and as a senior health educator at the Florida Department of Health.
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