By Sherri Kolade
She remembers when her client’s body nearly betrayed her.
Khalifah Green, 34, of Detroit, a full spectrum doula through Womb Wise Co., told the Michigan Chronicle how her expecting client was set to deliver her baby earlier this year in a home birth but her body wouldn’t let her.
Her client, she said, had a one-night stand and didn’t have an abortion after finding out. The anticipated home birth turned into an emergency trip to the hospital because she wasn’t as connected with her pregnancy (after her family rejected her baby) and subsequent issues arose, Green said.
Eventually, the mother had her healthy baby, but it left Green wondering after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade how will more mothers fair who might be in similar predicaments?
“I’m just wondering how that [the 6-3 Supreme Court ruling] changes in the landscape of [unplanned pregnancies]?” Green said of her clients. “In birth work, you see all types of lives and different walks of life. I have seen the impact of unwanted pregnancies slow down or stop labor physiologically. … We are having to close in the ranks and make sure we have a strong referral list of mental health experts. … You’re going to see a spike in depression, especially postpartum depression from people in our community birthing babies they didn’t plan for and don’t have other options for – I don’t know what that will do.”
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the decades-old Roe v. Wade ruling that created the constitutional right to abort in the U.S. in 1973.
The court’s controversial decision impacted the ability of individual states to set their abortion laws. Before being overturned, for nearly 50 years abortions were granted during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
The court’s only three liberal justices filed a dissenting opinion to the decision.
According to a federal study, Black women are more likely to die from childbirth than white women. Also, college-educated Black women are five times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women who went to college.
Attorney General Dana Nessel stated the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, has now overturned Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 court decision that granted women in all 50 states the constitutional right to control their own reproductive health choices. As a result of the decision, the legality of abortion care will now be left up to each state to decide.
“To millions of Michiganders, this isn’t some abstract fight about social issues. These are kitchen table concerns that impact our ability to be economically stable, continue our education and plan for our future,” Nessel said in a statement. “We all have our own personal beliefs about abortion; the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy is a deeply personal one that should not be controlled by the state. There’s a big difference between adhering to your own personal beliefs and forcing others to abide by them.”
A Community Shocked
Michigan is among the 26 states with existing laws on the books, dating back to 1931, that criminalizes abortion and makes it a felony to perform one, and has no exceptions for rape or incest. The law could be interpreted so that anyone, from the receptionist who schedules the appointment to a billing administrator, could be charged with “aiding and abetting” the termination of a pregnancy. That would have a chilling effect on all reproductive care in Michigan, she added, putting women at risk of injury and death.
Green wants to formally teach women about their bodies and help them learn about their cycles and beyond. Also, educate men, who also can be part of the solution in preventing unwanted pregnancies.
“I think that we aren’t taught how to interpret the cycles,” she said, adding that women also need to learn about their anatomy and physiology. “If women are knowledgeable about their bodies and empowered through that they may feel like they have more autonomy.”
Pastor John Edward Duckworth of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church told the Michigan Chronicle previously that while he may not agree with abortion 100 percent, he acknowledges that people can make choices.
“My pro-life is totally different – I look at the total picture,” Duckworth said, adding that he understands that many people get abortions because they are unable to financially care for their children among other reasons.
Fighting Like “Hell”
“Abortion is a necessary part of health care that every Michigander should be able to access,” said Dr. Michael Hertz, a northern Michigan OB/GYN. “We must do all we can here in Michigan to protect this access for the health and well-being of our patients. These actions are important to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and available in Michigan.”
Rev. Yvette Lyles, a minister at John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church and a nurse (with over 40 years in healthcare) told the Michigan Chronicle that her take on abortion includes being pro-choice.
“But it does not mean I am pro-abortion,” she said adding that she believes, however, that a person has a right to choose what they do with their body. “So, I’m pro-choice in that way.”
Lyles said that she, along with her friends and family, was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s reversal decision because women should have access to healthcare options that can provide them with abortion-related options if they choose to need them.
“It robs them of that decision in many states,” she said. “So, I’m saddened by that.”
Lyles added that she is unsure of what Michigan’s going to do next on the matter, but she has faith in what could be.
“I hope and pray that it will not be illegal in the state,” she said.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently filed a lawsuit and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution. It also asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban. The abortion ban violates Michigan’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy that is violated by the state’s near-total criminal ban on abortion. It also violates Michigan’s Equal Protection Clause due to the way the ban denies women equal rights because the law was adopted to reinforce antiquated notions of the proper role of women in society.
Governor Whitmer’s executive directive instructs departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
Staff Writer Megan Kirk contributed to this report.