- After Roe V. Wade was overturned in Missouri, a Missouri woman needed to cross state lines to obtain an abortion.
- Pro-lifers pretending to be abortion-clinic workers tried to intimidate and shame her.
- Bethany Dawson has been told her story.
This article is based upon conversations with Anna Smith (who asked not to be identified) from Kansas City. Smith was a woman who needed an abortion and who lived in a state that has made it illegal since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. SHe detailed the problems she encountered trying to cross the state border to have an abortion.
Roe v. Wade being overturned broke my heart. We had a trigger ban in the red state Missouri waiting for the Supreme Court decision to drop. When it happened, I knew that every woman in my state would see her life change.
It was too late and so personally that I did not know how it would impact my life. I have five children. Three are my own, two are stepchildren. They are my best friends and I love them all. However, my partner and me didn’t intend to expand our family. We couldn’t afford it. Second, I’ve had two difficult pregnancies and couldn’t go through it again. That was my decision from the moment that I gave birth to my second child.
Three weeks after Dobbs was decided by the Supreme Court, which allowed states the right to pass their own abortion laws and I felt sick, However, we were in a heatwave, a pandemic and I am on contraception, so the chances were it being pregnant were low. My partner asked me to take a pregnancy test, but it was only to calm my racing mind. I expected the result to be negative.
However, the lines emerged very clearly. They also showed up on the second, third and fourth tests. I discovered I was six-weeks pregnant.
I knew immediately what I needed to do: have an abortion. There was no other choice. The new abortion ban meant that I was forced to cross state lines in order to get to Kansas City, Kansas.
I thought I may have had cancer before I did the pregnancy tests. Although it’s hard to believe, I don’t know what would have been worse. There were times when I felt like it was cancer. At least it meant that I could talk about it with my pro-life family. They felt so distant from me. They couldn’t comprehend the situation I was in. They are still unsure.
They weren’t there for me to escape a dangerous situation. They were trying to put me in one.
My week leading up to my abortion was one of pure panic. My constant worry was that someone would discover my pregnancy and report it to the police. The laws in each state are constantly changing and I didn’t know if I would be charged.
The only thing that came to my mind was that I have five children and I can’t go prison.
It wasn’t easy for us to travel out of the country. Taking time off of work — me to have an abortion, my boyfriend to look after the kids — meant losing money when our income is already low.
However, we didn’t expect it would be so difficult to find an appointment. Or so dangerous.
We began calling every clinic that showed up in Google searches for “Kansas City Kansas abortion”. The first place was not available for several weeks and I didn’t have the time to wait.
The second clinic was also unavailable for several weeks. I had the same experience with the third one.
I then called a fourth clinic, A Better Choice. They confirmed that they had appointments and would schedule me for a consultation. It was great, I thought. We all know there is a limit to getting an abortion. I also wanted one that was medically available. My time was running out.
I told the worker at the clinic that I wanted to have an abortion. I was expecting a suggestion of dates, but instead they began talking about other options, with a particular focus on adoption. I knew that this was not right for me. They kept insisting on their point, and I realized they weren’t trying to rescue me from a dangerous situation. They were trying to put me in one.
The voice on the other end of my phone said, “You don’t have to do that.” My blood ran cold. She was more than just making sure that I knew my options.
“You don’t have to end an innocent life. There are other options. They can be put up for adoption,” said the now-ominous voice.
Adoption was not something I was interested in. Being pregnant was a risk to my health. My other pregnancies had been marked by intrahepatic cholesterol, which is a severe liver condition that causes extreme, unbearable itching. This condition was not only excruciating, but also terrifying. Babies whose mothers have ICP are more likely to be born prematurely or stillborn.
Additionally, I did not want to place a baby in an already overfunded, underfunded adoption system.
I told that to the woman at the clinic, who was pleading with me to reconsider — as if it was her body — but she didn’t have an answer for how to fix the systemic issues with our adoption system. I was just told about families that wanted a child.
You don’t need to do it” and “you’re making mistakes,” read the texts
I thought it wasn’t my job to have children. They made it seem like I had to give birth just because they have a uterus.
I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere so I put down the phone and let out a huge sigh. I was done.
Then my phone rang and made it clear that they weren’t finished with the conversation.
You don’t need to do this and you’re making mistakes, read the text. You can book an appointment now.
I was angry at the fact that complete strangers were given the opportunity to tell people what to do. I was scared.
I wondered what would happen to my phone number if the people giving it to police. Could I be arrested for having an unplanned abortion? I couldn’t be taken away from my children — they need me.
Prior to the call, I felt already racing my mind, which made matters worse. I felt nauseous.
My phone rang again with the same messages. They tried calling me as well.
I blocked the number.
It was already scary. I needed an abortion in a place that proudly believed women shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions about their bodies.
I had to have an abortion, knowing that if they found out, they would divorce me.
I was sitting and staring at my phone, waiting for the terrifying stranger to crawl out of it and scream at me for not putting a baby up for adoption — or worse, waiting for the police to be called. But I didn’t have the time.
I took a deep breathe and began dialing numbers again. Finally, I found a Kansas City Planned Parenthood that would take me in the time.
On Saturday, I was driven by two friends for 40 minutes to Planned Parenthood. There, I was given misoprostol and mifepristone, as well as two abortion pills. As it is standard, I took my first pill at the clinic.
I was nervous as we drove into the clinic. Pro-life protesters were waiting at the door, ready to shout in my face my decision.
Instead, they had a small group holding signs that said “Fake clinic here.” I was puzzled. We were confused when we looked closer at what they were saying. It was a warning to people about another fake clinic, which claimed to be an abortion clinic. The buildings all along the street were identical, and so close together that anyone could easily make a wrong turn or be persuaded with a sign. We were blessed to have the protesters pointing us towards Planned Parenthood.
It’s funny. I remember seeing the sign for the fake clinic, and then seeing the group of protesters standing for my (dwindling!) right for an abortion, I knew that I was making a good choice.
Knowing that I was at risk of seeking medical attention broke my heart.
Once I arrived at the clinic, there was not much to report. I took one pill. I was given a piece of paper that stated I had an abortion. In Missouri, I won’t show it to anyone as it could lead me into trouble.
The bleeding began when I returned home.
This is normal. I know this. It stopped. But what if the abortion had not worked? What if something was wrong with my body? My mind would never stop racing.
The bleeding began again on Tuesday. I was as worried and confused as anyone else. It got so severe that I had to leave work.
I was scared. I was unsure of what was normal and unacceptable in an abortion. I had never done it before and I wasn’t ready to.
I wanted to be checked but was afraid to go to the Missouri emergency room. What if my arrest was made? It made me sick to think of being treated as a criminal for making a decision about my body for my family’s sake.
I was not ready to take the risk. It broke my heart knowing that seeking medical treatment was now a possibility.
I was eventually forced to visit the hospital for another problem one week later. I whispered that I had experienced an abortion. I frowned and waited for the harsh and cold judgement of the doctors. Then, I braced for a criminal charge or a call from the police.
Nothing. They took my blood and continued their work with care and compassion. However, I still feel fear.
We are being made afraid by the government. I am afraid my contraception will not be available to me. I also fear that I won’t get proper medical care. I am afraid of everything. They are putting a lot of fear in everyone. It’s like “The Handmaid’s Tale.” We are just here to give birth, nurse, and then repeat it until we die.