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caption: A crowd is gathered during a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
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A crowd is gathered during a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

If Roe v Wade falls, what does that mean for Washington?

A draft opinion published late Monday by Politico indicates the Supreme Court is likely to strike down Roe v. Wade in the near future.

That's the landmark 1973 ruling that guarantees federal protection of abortion rights across the United States.

Now, draft opinions are just that — nothing is set in stone yet. But should it happen, this ruling would mean abortion would be banned or restricted in as many as 28 states.

Today we're dedicating the hour to talking about the implications of the fall of Roe in the Pacific Northwest. And how local supporters of abortion rights are responding.

A note before we get started -- today's show includes mention of sexual assault, rape, incest, suicide and forced pregnancy.

How Washington is reacting.mp3

Washington politicians gathered at a rally in Kerry Park Tuesday, May 3rd to condemn the conservative draft opinion and pledge support for abortion access in the Evergreen State. KUOW reporter Casey Martin was at that rally, before moving on to another, larger abortion rights rally in Westlake Park.

Soundside caught up with KUOW's Casey Martin while he was at Westlake Park to learn what he had heard from politicians and protestors.

Overall, he said the groups seemed unified in their desire to protect abortion access in Washington. But they fear for their neighboring states and the country as a whole.

"I heard about Idaho all day today," Martin said. "People are really worried about what might happen in that state, or Montana. People have family and other states — in the Midwest or in the Deep South. And they said, 'I'm out here for all of the United States, not just for Washington state.'"

caption: Anna Zwade, center, attends a rally to defend Roe v. Wade organized by councilmember Kshama Sawant on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
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Anna Zwade, center, attends a rally to defend Roe v. Wade organized by councilmember Kshama Sawant on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The legal implications.mp3

Elected officials in Washington have given supporters of abortions confidence that abortion access will continue to be possible for anyone in Washington, or anyone who travels here for an abortion. But politicians and supporters alike worry that the fall of Roe v. Wade could have a ripple effect even for state's with protections and expanded access.

To understand the legal implications and ripple effect of overturning Roe v. Wade, even in a state like Washington, we turned to Sital Kalantry, a law professor at Seattle University. Kalantry is the author of "Women’s Human Rights and Migration: Sex-Selective Abortion Law in India and the United States."

Kalantry said this decision could just be the start for the Supreme Court.

"This opens up a new Pandora's box for five people in this country who strongly oppose many progressive rights to change the whole dynamics in this country," she said.

Kalantry said the decision could lead to more extreme moves from states on both sides of the aisle.

"It's the new battleground, these interstate jurisdiction questions, because when you have states who are committed pro-choice and states who are committed anti-abortion, they're going to escalate," she said.

caption: Washington state governor Jay Inslee speaks to a crowd gathered for a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
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Washington state governor Jay Inslee speaks to a crowd gathered for a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

What abortion advocates do next.mp3

Kennewick, Wenatchee, Pasco, Spokane. If you live in any of those places, and need sexual or reproductive health services, you may be headed to Planned Parenthood. The organization has clinics across the state, and has also played a major role in advocating for abortion rights. So, with the potential end of Roe v Wade, what is Planned Parenthood's... plan?

Jennifer Allen, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, joined Soundside to discuss how her organization has prepared for this moment.

"We've been preparing for this for a long time because it is that predictable," Allen said. "We've always been contemplating a what a post-Roe scenario could look like. So certainly, there is a frenzy of interest right now based on the leaked draft opinion by the Supreme Court. However, I will also say that our health-care providers in our health centers, our operations team, our educators, they're doing this work every day, they were ready to hear news like this."

Allen said Planned Parenthood is ready to continue providing services, and keep pushing for abortion rights.

"There's no reason not to say that we stand for abortion rights," Allen said. "There's no reason to be ashamed of standing for abortion rights."

caption: Jackie Jacobs holds her head in her hands before the start of a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
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Jackie Jacobs holds her head in her hands before the start of a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

How care providers are preparing.mp3

Planned Parenthood or NARAL might be the first names you think of in abortion access, but independent clinics across the country are on the front lines of providing services, even in places Planned Parenthood doesn't operate. And if the Supreme Court's draft decision becomes final, clinics here are expecting an increase in demand from Idaho to as far away as Texas.

Mercedes Sanchez, the director of communications for Cedar River Clinics, a Washington-based abortion provider, said that, like Planned Parenthood, Cedar Rivers wasn't shocked by the news. But it was still an emotional blow for the organization.

"It was still devastating, to see the reality of it," Sanchez said. "There was lots of anger, grief. And then I think that has changed now into resolve and kind of an energizing feeling that we need to protect people."

Cedar Rivers generally serves around 5,000 clients a year, Sanchez said. They also offer other reproductive health-care services — such as vasectomies, exams and cancer screenings.

But Sanchez said they're expecting that number of clients to rise — they've already been seeing more out-of-state clients since Texas enacted a six-week abortion ban. Because, Sanchez said, independent clinics like Cedar River handle over half of all abortions nationally, and that number continues to grow.

"Most independent clinics offer both medication and and surgical abortions," Sanchez said. "And they're also more vulnerable to closure. And in some cases, many of them are the only clinics in their states."

caption: Hundreds gather for a rally to defend Roe v. Wade organized by councilmember Kshama Sawant on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
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Hundreds gather for a rally to defend Roe v. Wade organized by councilmember Kshama Sawant on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Hearing from you

Yesterday, we asked you for your stories of life before Roe v. Wade. And you answered.

As we process the impending *potential* end of the federal guarantee of abortion rights, we'll hear your experiences during the show today.

A warning — these stories involve mentions of rape, sexual assault, and forced pregnancy.

Hearing From You, Part One

Yesterday, we asked you for your stories of life before Roe v. Wade. And you answered. Part one of a three-part series of listener stories.

"I have the experience of being an abortion doula at Planned Parenthood. I am horrified that I will be able to tell that story to younger people and my children; that I used to participate in helping give access to women for abortion, and that's no longer the case."

"Roe v. Wade has saved peoples lives. Roe v. Wade has helped people to continue with their education so that they can better support themselves later on, and that they can have careers and jobs that they can then support having a healthy child when they're ready, mentally, physically, emotionally."

Hearing From You, Part Three

Yesterday, we asked you for your stories of life before Roe v Wade. And you answered. Part two of a three part series of listener stories.

Thank you to everyone that shared their story with us.