In the coming days, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case that could end the nationwide right to abortion. A draft opinion leaked last month indicates the court will strike down Roe v. Wade.
Dr. Marcie Richardson is an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing for about as long as the landmark case has protected abortion rights and now she is watching for the Supreme Court ruling that could determine its fate.
"It’s very disturbing. I’m old enough to have experienced when abortions were completely illegal," said Marcie Richardson. "My contention is that the only way women can be really liberated is if they can have healthy babies when they want them. Denying women abortion care is completely in conflict with that."
Abortion will remain legal in Massachusetts because abortion rights are enshrined in state law. Dr. Richardson is thinking of people in other states where abortion access could be eliminated.
"I am sure that we will be seeing women from Texas or other states come," said Richardson. "I think health care providers need to find out what the options are for women and how to get access to medical abortion and abortion care."
Jennifer Childs Roshak, president of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts says clinics are already serving patients from states restricting abortion access and working to expand their capacity.
"We have also continued to expand, partially due to the pandemic our provision of telehealth care so the ability to provide telehealth visits for sexual and reproductive healthcare, for abortion care," said Childs Roshak. "We’ve also been working on a program and have been taking care of a number of patients who qualify for medication abortion by mail so appointments through telehealth and medication by mail to them here in the states."
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She adds security has been a priority since a gunman targeted abortion clinics in the area in 1994.
"There has been an increase in violence, in aggressive protestors so I think one of the things that I’ve always been grateful for is we have really great relationships with our local police with the local FBI and with a national organization that tracks security issues across the federation."
Sue Kelman was working at a Brookline clinic where an employee was killed during the rampage.
"I remember the sounds of the gunshots. And sometimes if I'm walking along the street and I hear a sound, very subliminally that reminds me at a cellular level of that sound. It gives me, you know, I feel it. I think everyone who was there that day, will never forget the day."
She worries about the Supreme Court ruling and the precedent it could set.
"It's profoundly disappointing and disturbing. And the knowledge that it could very well be the beginning, just the beginning of many more rights being overturned for Americans in this country. We're living in very, very precarious times and it's exceedingly worrisome."
For the last few years she has volunteered escorting patients into a Planned Parenthood facility in Boston.
"On the days when abortions are performed at Planned Parenthood, there are always protesters out on the street," said Kelman. "When you're out on the sidewalk, standing face to face with someone who's shouting six inches from your face. It's very hard not to have a visceral reaction to what you're hearing and what that person is saying. But as clinic volunteers, we are carefully coached not to engage with those people, not to have dialogue with them."
She remains vigilant but focused on making patients feel welcome.
"We help them come into the building safely and reassure them that they're in good hands."
The Supreme Court is scheduled to issue case decisions on Friday. Many will be watching to see if the case regarding abortion will be among them.