Abortion rights supporters gather at the Unitarian Church in Baton Rouge on June 24, 2022, after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Data show states with strict abortion laws like Louisiana have high infant and maternal morbidity rates. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)
Ten years ago, Jennifer McMorris, a Louisiana resident from Mobile, Alabama, was pressured by her boyfriend at the time to drink until she blacked out.
“I just remember passing out and waking up in the morning and thinking, ‘Why am I naked?’” she said. “Six weeks later, after he had been deployed, I was pregnant and I was, well, screwed.”
McMorris was 25 and still in college when she had her unexpected pregnancy. She shared her story Friday evening during a rally of abortion rights supporters at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, less than half a mile away from the city’s lone abortion clinic.
“I had so much that I wanted to do,” McMorris said.
She decided to get an abortion at a clinic in Mobile and told about 80 attendees at the rally how happy she was that she made that choice.
“If I would have stayed pregnant, I never would have finished college. I never would have gotten to the job that brought me to Louisiana. I never would have met my husband, and I would not be the mother of a 6-month-old baby girl that I adore more than life itself,” she said.
“Yes, it is sad that I personally chose to terminate my pregnancy, but it was my choice to do it,” she added, which was met with applause.
Friday’s rally was organized by the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. Members of the coalition include Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Louisiana Progress Action, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and Feminists in Action LSU.
Participants brought signs condemning the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, automatically triggering a ban on almost all abortions in Louisiana.
“I was 12 when Roe was decided… now my granddaughters do not have the same rights that I grew up with,” Angela Adkins with Louisiana Progress Action said.
“Today is the day for tears,” she said. “Tomorrow, we fight.”
Casey Carr, a volunteer at the abortion clinic in Baton Rouge, said they expected the decision was coming soon, but the mood among her coworkers was still “heartbreaking.”
“We did have patients scheduled to come back next week,” Carr told the Illuminator. “For now, the only other closest place is Florida, and who knows how long that’s going to be available.”
Carr said the clinic, which closed Friday after the ruling was issued, has reached out to patients and informed them about their out-of-state abortion options.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Jeramesha Warner, a community organizer for Planned Parenthood Louisiana, said communities of color and the poor are going to be most affected by the Supreme Court decision because they are more likely to lack the support and funds to travel out of state for abortion services.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
“The people that grew up like in my circumstances, poor and black, that’s what this fight is about,” Warner said.
Warner told the Illuminator that what comes next for Planned Parenthood is “trying to help people connect to care.”
“Right now, the only thing that we can do is guide (women looking to end their pregnancies) to places where they can access abortion safely and legally… and connect them to resources to help them fund that trip,” she said.
Planned Parenthood does not offer abortion services but does cover a range of reproductive healthcare services such as guidance on birth control, legal abortion options and overall sexual health.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.