Featured photo: Dozens of people gathered to express their rage after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade at the Greensboro rally for reproductive rights in Greensboro N.C., on June 24, 2022.

I remember the first time I got the implant in my arm.

I made an appointment at the Planned Parenthood off of Fordham Boulevard in Chapel Hill where I weighed my options. If I got the implant, which is inserted in my upper arm, it would last me about three years. If I got the IUD, which is inserted vaginally, it would last about five. If I stayed on the pill, which I had been taking orally for about seven years at that point, I would need to continue my daily habit. I chose the implant.

The nurse and the doctor came in, wiped my arm with alcohol, numbed it with anesthesia and then shot  the matchstick-sized implant into my left upper arm using a syringe-type device. It hurt like hell and left a bruise for about a week. This was more than seven years ago, January 2017, right after Trump was about to take office.

Being on birth control was always a given for me. My friends were on it, I was sexually active and I didn’t want to get pregnant. So, like many other women my age, I started on the pill when I got to college. Then, as the years wore on, I started to look for more permanent options like the IUD and implant. I had friends who had gotten the IUD and had horror stories to tell; I decided to go for what felt like the safer option. To this day, I have one in my arm.

While the device is meant to last me at least three more years, on the off chance that I somehow got pregnant (knock on wood), I am pretty confident I could access an abortion. I have a car. I have a driver’s license. I have a flexible work schedule. I have health insurance. I could travel out of state if I needed to.

Thankfully, North Carolina is one of the few states where abortion is still legal, albeit with severe restrictions. Greensboro is also home to one of the few abortion clinics in the state.

If I were to get pregnant, I would need to make sure I got an abortion within 12 weeks and six days. Once I got to the clinic, I would need to wait 72 hours after first seeing a doctor for the procedure, no matter how sure I was. I would have to receive mandatory “counseling” about my decision. If I was a minor, I would need parental consent. 

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned two years ago, the number and rate of abortions have hit their highest points in more than a decade according to the Guttmacher Institute. The organization estimates that there were more than 1 million abortions last year, an increase of 11 percent since 2020.

That fact should be alarming.

It means that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling and state governments’ rollback of reproductive rights, people still need access to safe abortion care. The data shows this.

States bordering locations in which abortion was banned — which is 14 states — procedures increased significantly. That includes NC, where abortions increased 44 percent between 2020 and 2023.

In the first half of 2023, nearly 1 in 5 people who had an abortion traveled across state lines for care, according to Guttmacher. But that’s not always a possibility for those without access to a car, time off of work or access to childcare. Remember, most people who access abortions already have children.

We also know that taking away access to safe abortion is deadly. That’s because staying pregnant can be more dangerous than having an abortion, especially for Black women. It can have negative economic effects, too. Data shows that about half of all people who get an abortion live below the poverty level. One study even found that people who were denied an abortion were almost four times more likely to be below the poverty level. Adding a child to that kind of equation can put people into even more dire circumstances. 

This is why we need safe, legal access to abortion care. 

Like access to clean water, a sound education, comprehensive healthcare, nutritious food, safe shelter, abortion care is a human right. And it’s one that we all should be fighting for.

To learn more about accessing abortion, visit plannedparenthood.org/abortion-access.

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