What to know about abortion access in Bloomington now, and in the future

·8 min read

All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, a Bloomington nonprofit focused on reproductive care, recently has been fielding about 60 to 75 requests for abortion funding per week, according to State Programs Manager Jessica Marchbank. All-Options can only fund about 30 at a time.

Each week the volunteers listen to every voicemail and read every text message seeking help in obtaining an abortion. Marchbank has to prioritize exacerbating circumstances such as minors, people in domestic violence situations or those experiencing homelessness. Next, she considers those with a higher gestation, such as those who are 10 weeks or more pregnant.

“I cannot tell you the number of times people have just thanked me, not for funding them, but for treating them like a human,” she said. “At first it felt really awesome. And now it actually feels really terrible. Because I shouldn’t be getting a pat on the back for treating someone like a human being.”

More: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating constitutional right to abortion

The Supreme Court on Friday released an opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, returning to each state the ability to determine a pregnant person’s access to abortion. For now, access to abortion remains legal in Indiana.

A majority of adult Americans, 61%, believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in March 2022.

Nicole Wilmer holds a sign during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the Monroe County courthouse on Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Nicole Wilmer holds a sign during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the Monroe County courthouse on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Abortions are still going to happen, Indiana University professor of law Jody Madeira said, but maternal mortality rates will increase. In Indiana, the maternal mortality rate is already about 3 times that of the national rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And if the cost to access an abortion rises, more pregnant people will attempt to self-abort, she said.

Will I be able to get an abortion in Indiana?

Indiana's lawmakers appear poised to further restrict or ban access to abortion in the state. Lawmakers penned a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb asking him to call a special session and he has, albeit for a different reason. The session is scheduled for July 25, meaning access in Indiana could change dramatically within weeks.

LaKimba DeSadier, Indiana state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said Planned Parenthood’s doors, including Bloomington’s, will remain open for reproductive care even if abortion access is restricted or totally banned.

More: Indiana poised to limit abortion access after Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade

“No matter what, we will encourage our patients to continue to reach out to us to get help to help navigate their options,” she said.

That reproductive care includes determining if a patient is pregnant and what they may need in lieu of seeking abortion care in another state, DeSadier said, but Planned Parenthood must comply with the law.

Where is the closest place to Bloomington to get an abortion?

In 2019, Illinois lawmakers ensured access to abortion care by declaring it a fundamental right. Indiana and surrounding states are expected to outlaw abortion in most instances, so Illinois will become a safe haven for pregnant people. Tennessee abortion services provider CHOICES has plans to open a new clinic in Carbondale, Illinois, about a four-hour drive from Bloomington. The clinic is scheduled to open in August.

Abortion Finder is one resource for people seeking care close to them, DeSadier said.

“People should also be aware that there are organizations known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers that on the surface appear to offer women’s health care, but in fact are not staffed by medical professionals and exist solely (to) keep women from having abortions,” she said.

In Bloomington, the Women's Care Center is such an organization.

How can I receive funding for an abortion?

Marchbank said she could help more people if she had the money, but All-Options is funded solely by donations and grants. She has to tell those she can’t help to wait a week or two and try again.

“It doesn’t feel great to suggest to someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant, to be pregnant longer,” Marchbank said.

Tracy Rater, left, and Terresa Rater, right, hold signs during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the Monroe County Courthouse on Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Tracy Rater, left, and Terresa Rater, right, hold signs during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the Monroe County Courthouse on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

This year, All-Options has aided more than 400 people in accessing abortion care, Marchbank said, including financial assistance, connecting people to a clinic or supporting them around their decision. So many people feel stigmatized, she said.

In addition to abortion funding, All-Options offers diapers, wipes, clothes, pregnancy tests and more for pregnant people and families in need. Anyone can request supplies or seek help.

“Anyone in need, we don’t ask them to prove anything,” she said.

All-Options supports any choice a pregnant person makes, Marchbank said, whether that be parenting, adoption or abortion.

“We don’t have a stake in the outcome of that pregnancy,” she said. “Whatever you decide, we’re here.”

More: Indiana abortions by the numbers: How many people have procedure here

All-Options services aid about 200 families a month. Every month new people are seeking supplies or parenting resources, Marchbank said.

Planned Parenthood has patient navigators, a team of people who work with anyone who has questions or concerns and who can help patients with financial or logistical support, DeSadier said.

“We’re going to build and reclaim the freedom that is ours,” she said. “We will never stop fighting to restore and defend the rights of people seeking sexual and reproductive health care.”

Where can I talk to someone about abortion?

All-Options volunteers undergo 40 hours of virtual peer counseling training and pregnancy option workshops to support people without bias, Marchbank said.

“People aren’t used to being able to talk to someone about their options in just an open-hearted way,” she said. “Our training is designed to help people recognize their own bias and be able to meet people where they are and help them in a judgment-free way.”

Marchbank said the nonprofit also offers a support line that is answered solely by members of the clergy, so callers can talk to a religious authority who has been trained and is comfortable talking about and supporting abortion.

“A lot of times, people may come from a religious background, and they may want to have an abortion,” she said. “And while they mostly feel OK about it, sometimes they need to talk to somebody in the faith that they’re in.”

Can I go out of state to access abortion care?

Currently, the law in Indiana makes it difficult to get an abortion past 13 weeks, six days, Marchbank said.

All-Options will continue the same work regardless, including funding people to go out of state to receive abortion care, Marchbank said, which the organization does now. Some people prefer to go to clinics in states such as Illinois, where laws regarding abortion are more friendly, she said. About 40% of those receiving abortion funding from All-Options already go out of state.

The organization plans to keep providing essentials, care and supporting access to abortion. Marchbank said she’s hopeful her budget will increase during the next fiscal year, as there was an influx of donations after the Roe v. Wade opinion was leaked.

Where can I receive other reproductive care?

Futures Family Planning Clinic does not provide abortion services, but does provide birth control counseling and supplies, exams, pregnancy counseling, STD testing, emergency contraception and more.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator Penny Caudill said reproductive healthcare is always important. Access to education, healthcare, and birth control is essential to reducing abortions, she said.

Carter McAbee gives her mother, Jessica McAbee, a kiss during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the Monroe County Courthouse on Saturday, May 14, 2022. "I'm doing this for her," Jessica said.
Carter McAbee gives her mother, Jessica McAbee, a kiss during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the Monroe County Courthouse on Saturday, May 14, 2022. "I'm doing this for her," Jessica said.

With Roe v. Wade overturned, pregnant people will have fewer options, Caudill said.

“It will become more complicated for people to get information in a timely manner so that they can make their decisions and act accordingly,” she said.

The Futures Family Planning Clinic, which has been open since 2006, is a Title X clinic, meaning it receives funding to provide comprehensive family planning and preventative health services, according to Health Resources & Services Administration.

“What we can do is give people information on all their choices,” Caudill said.

Anyone can come to the clinic, no matter their income. Caudill said the fee for services is on a sliding scale, meaning those who make more pay a higher fee than someone with a lower income.

What will Indiana lawmakers do now Roe v. Wade is overturned?

People of color and people in rural areas will be disproportionately harmed by an abortion ban because of where they live, DeSadier said. According to USA Today, many states in the South and Midwest have restrictive abortion laws ready now that Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Madeira said lawmakers in states including Indiana now will be able to pass restrictive abortion laws and criminalize abortion.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade is not a solution,” DeSadier said. “It’s just not. Elected officials will be doing harm to so many groups of folks, intentionally or not intentionally.”

More: How access to abortions has changed in Indiana since Roe v. Wade

Voting, DeSadier said, is essential for constituents to hold their elected officials, who are determining what people can do with their bodies, accountable.

Madeira said the ruling is the most socially, culturally and legally far reaching overturn she can remember.

“We’ve had that right for 50 years,” she said. “We’ve learned that that right is critical to United States society.”

A federal law could take the place of Roe v. Wade in protecting abortion access, but it would be extremely difficult to pass, Madeira said.

“It’s an earth-shaking development," she said. "It’s a development that suggests that no precedent is safe.”

Reach Luzane Draughon at ldraughon@gannett.com or @luzdraughon on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Roe v. Wade overturned: How will it affect abortion access in Indiana