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This intersection takes you to the only abortion provider in my home town of Missoula, Montana, to the right.

From the west, there’s no lane to turn toward the clinic. From the north there’s no way to turn toward the clinic, and from the east there’s a traffic light that's 1 minute and 59 seconds long.

It may be a some sort of city planning strategy I don’t understand but it seems like a barrier to make it harder for people who want abortion care to get abortion care. And that’s just minor traffic nuisance. In other places access is much more challenging.

So vote. I’m Dr. Lindsey Doe and today’s episode of Sexplanations about abortion legislation in the United States is sponsored by BetterHelp.com, an amazing source for online therapy so that you can address your mental health any time from any place that has internet access. [WHIP CRACKING, COUGH].

People seek abortions because they’re not ready to be a parent, they want to focus on school, or work, or the kids they already have, pregnancy isn’t good for their healthy, their partner isn’t someone they want to co-parent with, they’re in abusive relationship, or pregnant from a rape. Lots of reasons -- mainly they’re pregnant and they don’t want to be. In the United States, 81% of Americans support conditional access to ending pregnancies, and accessing abortions has been a Constitutional right for over 35 years.

A right, but not a reality. While the U. S.

Supreme Court made access to abortion a fundamental and Constitutional right to all persons (Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v.

Casey), it also gave states the right to limit abortions. As of September 2018 most counties in the U. S. don’t have an abortion provider.

In 28 States 90 to 99% of their counties don’t have a provider and in six states there is only one provider for the whole state. Laws called TRAP laws or Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers put mandates around where a clinic is located, the size of the room in which the procedure takes place, or the size of the hallways in the clinic. Some providers are required to maintain a relationship with a nearby hospital -- generally mandating hospital-grade requirements for the abortion provider, which aren’t relevant or necessary regulations to perform abortions safely.

The relentless rules mean fewer providers can make it work which means fewer locations and less access. And that’s not even the end of it. 24 states have a mandatory “waiting period” - from the time a person first requests an abortion to when a provider can perform the abortion. For most of these states, the waiting period is 24 hours. 28 states require the person seeking an abortion to receive counseling before obtaining one.

I love counseling! I’m usually an advocate, except when it’s intended solely to discourage the individual from obtaining an abortion. As in by law prospective patients must receive “counseling” from someone who BY LAW has to present an anti-abortion position and sometimes, BY LAW, give out medically inaccurate information. [CRIES OUT IN FRUSTRATION].

In 26 states, a guardian must consent in order for a person under the age of 18 to receive an abortion. This seems logical that medical decisions for minors are guided by adults. Until you realize, a guardian opposed to abortions could force a minor to carry the pregnancy!

OR that guardians are not always present to give consent for a time sensitive procedure. Here’s one: 10 states require the person seeking an abortion to have an often costly and UNNECESSARY ultrasound before being able to access an abortion. In addition to the costs of therapy, multiple appointments, gas, and childcare for the kids they may already have... patients have to endure a guilt tactic intended to deter them from proceeding.

According to a clinician who spends a lot of time with patients who want abortions, “They’ve spent time to make careful and responsible decisions for their lives and bodies.” “The ultrasounds of the fetus [and sometimes being forced to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus] are used to shake the certainty of the decision that has already been made.” Now imagine if English isn’t your first language, if you come from a state or country with significantly different abortion related laws and weren’t aware of all the hoops. If you have a disability, if you don’t have consistent, private, access to the internet, or if you struggle with reading?? And those are just the government's barriers.

Individuals take it upon themselves to add barriers to the heap. Abortion protesters are known for waving signs to shame patients with fetuses real and exaggerated on them. They call with fake names to schedule appointments and block slots for actual patients.

They burn down clinics. They shoot doctors. They threaten providers and their families, calling in shifts throughout the night.

They bully and it can be exhausting to fight BUT if access to reproductive healthcare is important to you, there are ways to battle and not feel defeated. There used to be a handful of protestors who stood on this corner harassing patients on their way to the abortion clinic, until they started Pledge a Picketer where community members can donate any dollar amount to the abortion clinic for every protestor out that day. So the more protestors, the more resources the clinic gets for healthcare.

And now, no more protesters. Some people volunteer to make a difference by escorting patients into clinics or being their support person through the process. You can research TRAP laws in your area and educate others about them as barriers to care.

I’ve made a playlist of videos and a list of resources in the description with more information. And there’s a link to the channel How to Vote in Every State which gives state-specific instructions on registering, filling out ballots, and actually voting to influence outcomes that are meaningful to you. Only 16 states allow same day registration, so please register now.

Planned Parenthoods and campaign offices can usually tell you how the bubbles you fill in effect the accessibility of abortions. If you want to limit or eliminate them, they’ll tell you how. If you want to let people choose, that’s an option they can guide you through too.

They may even be able to explain how a bill about public transportation or changes in minimum wage play into abortion rights. Whatever stance you take, I’m relying on you to stay curious! If you’re seeking abortion services and find it challenging, remember that barriers have likely been put in place to make it challenging.

You’re allowed to be sad, angry, frustrated, or enraged as you work to overcome them and you don’t have to do this alone. Lots of the tough emotional and brain stuff can be done with licensed counselors and therapists. This is where BetterHelp can assist.

Betterhelp.com/sexplanations (which supports sex education) is an online resource for mental health services -- therapy appointments that you can do from your devices -- phone calling and texting, messages on your computer and video chats! Recently BetterHelp shared how they vet their therapists. People who want to provide counseling through BetterHelp go through an intense 4-5 week process.

They’re required provide proper licensure documents, proof of identity, and references from other licensed practitioners who can vouch for them. Then BetterHelp verifies with state licensing boards and gives each candidate a case study exam where a licensed clinician evaluates their sessions via video interview. 15% of the therapists who apply to work are accepted, and if there is dissatisfaction for any reason, patrons, the clients, like you and me, can get a full refund. There shouldn’t be barriers to getting care.

If you feel run down by the hoops, at least there’s a website set up to make things easy. Start getting care for yourself at Betterhelp.com/sexplanations.