US & Canada

Young US women for and against abortion

Pro choice and pro life activists at the Supreme Court Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Supreme Court is considering a Texas law that would limit access to abortion

Before the introduction of a Texas law in 2013, Sofia Peña, 28, said it was easy for her to obtain an abortion.

In 2009, she already had a daughter, now seven years old, and was not ready for another child.

Both of her pregnancies were unplanned, but the second time around, she said knew abortion was the right thing for her to do.

It would not have been so smooth for her to obtain an abortion today.

If the one remaining clinic in the Rio Grande Valley, currently at risk of closure, shuts down, many women living in the area won't be able to obtain abortions.

This week's case at the Supreme Court focused on a part of the Texas law, HB2, that has yet to go into effect, requiring abortion clinics in Texas to have hospital-grade facilities - a very costly upgrade.

The case also focuses on a mandate within the law already gone into effect that requires doctors to have the ability to admit patients to hospitals within 30 miles (50km) of their clinic.

Image caption Pro-choice groups argue that the Texas law does nothing to improve women's health

Opponents to the law say it would leave just 10 abortion clinics in America's largest state. The law's proponents argue it is necessary to protect women's health.

Restrictions cause many women to resort to self-induction of abortion, which is illegal, Ms Peña pointed out.

Women on both sides of the debate expressed their views outside the court.


Standing for life

Image caption Pro-life supporters said they hope the law is upheld

The crowd gathered at the Supreme Court steps on a sunny, windy March day appeared to be largely pro-choice, but there were pro-life supporters as well. Some came with friends or family members and some held explicit signs depicting aborted foetuses that said Hillary Clinton supports abortion.

Jean Morrow, 27, who's from Virginia, said she believes public opinion is turning against support for abortion.

"I believe in the dignity and value of all human life, from womb to tomb," she said. "It's a huge issue that speaks right to that. We will see what the court decides."

She said more and more young women are participating in pro-life events like the March for Life every year.

"I understand there are a lot of people who are pro-choice, but I believe the tide is turning to a pro-life mindset."

Amanda Quigley, 22, came to the Supreme Court with her mother from Maryland. She held a "Protect Women, Protect Life" sign.

Being a nurse, she said she personally understands "the importance of healthcare" and that the requirements in the Texas law are not out of the ordinary for ambulatory health care centres.

"Safety for all women is what's important," she said.

Representative Paul Ryan came to the court and spoke to the crowds at one point.

"We are the pro-life movement that is here to stand up for the women. We are here to stand up for the unborn and we are here to stand up for the rule of law,'' Mr Ryan said.

Many Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election have repeatedly touted their pro-life records and pledged to defund women's health clinic Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions in addition to other women's health services.


'My mother and grandmother fought for this'

Image caption Some supporters said their mothers and grandmothers fought the same fight for abortion access

"My mom came to DC to fight for abortion rights, my grandma did too, it's both upsetting and so necessary to be here at this moment," said Caroline Goldfarb, 19, who came to Washington for the hearing from Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Ms Goldfarb, who is studying to be a physician, likened the death rate from abortions as "the same as paddling in a canoe".

"You don't see us out here trying to keep people from paddling in a canoe," said Ms Goldfarb.

Some men on either side of the abortion aisle were spotted in the crowd outside of the Supreme Court as well.

Ms Goldfarb stood with Quincy Tichenor, 19, who attends Georgetown University, and Oliver Kendall, 22, who lives in Washington.

Mr Tichenor wore a pink sweatshirt reading "FEMINIST".

Restricting abortion access does nothing but "force it into unsafe, back alley procedures that threaten women's health," said Mr Kendall.

"I'm a firm believer in the right to choose."

More on this story