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Health care or not? Uncertainty looms locally over abortion care after leaked draft opinion

Pro-choice and pro-life rights advocates share their sides.

SAN ANTONIO — Uncertainty over the leaked draft abortion opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court continues to grow.

The drafted document, obtained by Politico, is in regards to a case on Mississippi's state law banning abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. The writing also indicates the court's vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Although the opinion is a draft, Carolynn Ekbaeck is concerned.

"When I heard about the [draft opinion] it was incredible sad and disappointing news, but it wasn't surprising, considering where we are at right now with the Supreme Court and who is sitting on it," said Ekbaeck.

The court is expected to rule on the case before its term end in late June or early July. If the draft opinion reflects the court's final decision, Ekbaeck is worried how it could affect patients seeking an abortion in the future. 

"I do worry because if they overturn Roe V. Wade or change it in some way that doesn't help women, or leave it to the states to decide. A lot of women will die because they won't have the choice or the opportunity to go and get an abortion or the pill they need to prevent that," she said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee that releases a biennial report. it goes through an extensive data and records review process to identify pregnancy-related deaths that were not indicated as such on death certificates.

Mara Posada is the public affair director for Planned Parenthood South Texas. The non profit organization operates five clinics in San Antonio and provides a wide array of health and reproductive services -- only two locations perform abortion care. 

Care that could be illegal if Roe V. Wade is reversed. It would not only overturn Texas' current six week abortion ban but would trigger a law that would make performing an abortion in the state a crime.

Posada is worried about the restrictions would hurt the people who need it most.

"All of these restrictions have an effect, a greater effect on people of color, on the trans community, on the disabled community... low income people, people who cannot travel to other states and get the care that they need," said Posada.

The state health department also reports on abortion procedures annually. We referred to its 2020 ITOP data since the 2021 report is not yet complete with its breakdown. In Bexar County, there were 5,178 induced terminations of pregnancy. Hispanics represented the highest number at 3,116 while Whites had the second highest at 1,154.

"It's a human right to be able to control one's body for their future, their lives and their health care," said Posada.

"Abortion is not health care. The body within a woman's body is not that woman's body. It's basic biology," said Amy O'Donnell of Texas Alliance for Life.

The non profit organization based in Austin was a supporter of the trigger law, which is known as the Human Life Protection Act. In the last budget cycle, the Texas State Legislature approved $100 million for the Alternatives to Abortion Program for the next two, a $20 million increase.

"That goes towards pregnancy health centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies that support women walking through unplanned pregnancies. It's our goal to educate every woman across the state that they can choose life. They don't have to walk through an unplanned pregnancy alone," said O'Donnell.

O'Donnell said their is a 'vast number' of pregnancy centers across the state but predicts more will be created if Roe is overturned.

Ekbaeck is skeptical.

"There are services out there but it's difficult to get the funds."

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