A Matter of Facts — June 2023
From Our President
Anniversaries are important. Marking a moment in time offers an opportunity to contemplate how far we’ve come—or have yet to go.
In the United States, June is LGBTQ Pride Month, established to commemorate the travails and celebrate the victories experienced by individuals with diverse sexual or gender identities in the struggle to attain their basic human rights. What started as an event in a single city—a march in Manhattan on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969—has grown into a global movement. Fifty-three years later, Pride festivities now take place in over 100 countries.
At Guttmacher, we recognize our responsibility to support Pride all year round. We produce research, policy analyses and other materials that promote the sexual and reproductive health of LGBTQ+ people. We uncovered data from our most recent Abortion Patient Survey showing, in a forthcoming analysis, that a substantial proportion of abortion patients identify as LGBTQ+, and we studied how the COVID pandemic impacted LGBTQ+ individuals. We investigate the provision of abortion care for transgender and gender nonbinary individuals. We track state-level bans on gender-affirming care and draw attention to how these bans and abortion bans represent two sides of the same coin: Both undermine people’s bodily autonomy, increasing stigma and harm.
Yet there is much more that we all can—and must—do. The recent waves of punitive anti-LGBTQ legislation in the United States, as well as in Uganda, Kenya, Russia and Hungary, are a dire threat to people’s lives and must not pass unchallenged.
We now have another event to recognize each June. A year ago, on June 24th, the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson eliminated the constitutional right to abortion. Guttmacher has planned a series of activities and publications to note the one-year mark and the consequences of this adverse Ruling. Join us as we confront the looming challenges facing abortion access and LGBTQ rights. On both fronts, we have so much further to go.
Herminia Palacio, President & CEO
In 2021–2022, only 6% of survey respondents in states expected to ban abortion in the absence of constitutional protections reported paying $0 for abortion care, compared with 50% of those in states where abortion was likely to remain legal.
Read more about the experiences of people in the United States seeking abortion care in the year before Roe was overturned, from our Abortion Patient Survey.
Behind the Scenes
Remembering the Fall of Roe
Anxiety. Dread. Disbelief.
Some of us knew it was coming. Others held out hope that something would shift between the leak of the draft decision and the final, fateful ruling. Some had been refreshing the SCOTUSblog website for days. Some had the day off, trying to disconnect from the pressure cooker of working in the sexual and reproductive health and rights field at the most consequential moment of the last 50 years in the abortion rights movement.
Scared. Angry. Discouraged. Powerless. Devastated.
We cried, went outside with our dogs, texted friends, got to work. It turns out none of us were prepared for just how awful it would feel when we heard the news. We’re still finding the words to describe our emotions from last summer.
Hopeful. Determined. Heartened. Apapacho.
We’re finding new words and ways of coping to move forward from this setback. Inspired, in part, by The 19th's oral history project, editor Jenny Sherman spoke with staff members from across the Institute to recall their reactions—personal, professional, parental—to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling a year ago. Here’s what we’ve been going through, in our own words. (Comments edited for brevity and clarity.)
Meg Schurr, Research Administrative Coordinator
I was at home—I had some time off from work. As soon as I got the news alert on my phone, I went into my Guttmacher email and saw that a bunch of researchers scheduled an ad hoc Zoom meeting, to give space to one another and talk about where we go from here.
So I joined. I didn’t talk. Not because I didn't have anything to say but because I didn't know what to say. It was uplifting to hear our brilliant colleagues talk about how to fast-track research; ask, What ideas do we have? What needs to be studied? How do we go about this? That was really important to me.
I spent a lot of time crying and a lot of time with the Downton Abbey cast. The decision, when I read it, just took my breath away. It was like a sucker punch to the gut; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I went through what my life would have been like if I didn’t have a choice—I had an abortion almost eight years ago. I remember sitting in the Planned Parenthood thinking, Oh my God, this is really easy for me in New York. I realized that it’s not like this for every pregnant person, but it should be.
I find it really helpful to disconnect; to not check Twitter every single moment. It’s been also really hopeful and inspiring to see how many people are up in arms about the decision, the most recent decision about abortion medication, and to see protests and how the midterm elections went.
I have a lot of hope for the younger generation. I think Gen Z is really going to change things up, and I can’t wait for them to get involved in politics and take office.
Sandhya Ramashwar, Production Manager
I remember seeing news about the decision on The New York Times home page. I was like, it’s for real. I immediately texted my close friends and some of my family. I just wanted to not be alone with it. Some people sent me screenshots of arguments they were already having. It was reassuring that people were angry and willing to say something about it.
Once the axe fell, we had to put this “please be patient” language on our website resources. I remember a lot of work; updates sometimes multiple times a day. We had good teamwork. It wasn’t really overwhelming because we were all in it together.
I remember people on TikTok and social media volunteering to drive people to appointments, even across state lines. I don’t think I have that bravery. I feel sort of helpless on the individual level. The one small comfort I have is that I work here; at least I can make sure that junk information is shouted down a little bit by good information.
Liz Scott, Meeting & Events Coordinator
I was in the middle of a board meeting when the decision was announced. At first, I didn’t know what was happening—everybody was grabbing their phones, making calls, consoling each other. Board members were crying. We knew it was coming, because of the leak the month before, but had hoped that it wouldn’t really happen.
I went home, spoke to both of my kids about it. I have a daughter, she’s 18, just coming into adulthood. I think about the stress that will be on her. I have a 12-year-old son as well. He didn’t really understand what was going on. I had a conversation with him, explaining what it means, that women’s rights were being taken away—that this is something that is going to affect everyone.
I’m still in disbelief. I cannot fathom that we’re in 2023 and someone else is making these decisions that affect us. It’s just mind-boggling that we even have to have this conversation.
When I do have anxiety, it’s definitely because of social media—seeing and reading all of these horrible stories: people who had to show proof of rape, that a baby was conceived because of incest. Stepping away from the news and social media helps.
Rubina Hussain, Senior Research Associate
I was working from home. I reached out to a former coworker, somebody who I sat next to for 20 years. Somebody who is also a parent. I have two kids, and my daughter is seven. Knowing that, from where it stands now, her reproductive years will be so much more restricted than my own is horrifying to me.
As somebody who’s been working in this field for a while, there are so many ways in which it feels devastating. The work that I was doing early in my career at Guttmacher, much of it was international abortion research in places where abortion was severely restricted. It’s a very strange thing to have those same sorts of rights stripped of us here in our country. It’s weird to look at your career and almost think, for what? For what?
I think I’m still pretty depressed about it. I think about what it’s going to be like in 10 years. Even the idea of buying a house—I don’t want one in a place where my children don’t have bodily rights, where I don’t have bodily rights. I can’t be in a place where there’s some criminal aspect to abortion access because I will be the parent that will drive across state lines.
The tiny little bit of whatever glimmer of hope I have is the younger people I know. They’re smarter and more prepared, and they know so much more than I ever knew. It feels terrible to leave the next generation like this, but there is a glimmer of hope that maybe they’ll be more driven and better equipped to respond to these brutalities and injustices and ultimately create a world better for everyone.
Joerg Dreweke, Director of US Communications
The core team, the US Comms team and some of the Digital folks, we were all on a Zoom call together. Whenever there is a big case pending with the Supreme Court that directly impacts our work, we go through a routine that we informally call the SCOTUS Watch. Despite knowing pretty much exactly what was coming, everybody was still shocked.
In a way, the main event had already happened—that was the SCOTUS leak, in early May. I was actually at home, sick with COVID, sitting on the couch, when I got a call on my phone from The New York Times about it. The dam just broke. In the following four days, our team handled 250 media requests. It was absolutely bonkers.
So we pushed out a lot of resources to help people understand what was expected to come. For instance, we prereleased findings from the Abortion Provider Census just a couple of weeks before the Dobbs decision came out. And we launched our interactive map to help people cut through the clutter.
For the first few days after the decision, we sent daily updates to reporters who were just trying to keep track of all this chaos that was unfolding. There definitely wasn’t much time for breaks. It was exhausting for everybody—we did a good job backing each other up. You really don’t want to let down your colleagues, so that makes it easier to push through the tough spots. And you absolutely do not want to let down the people who need access to care. I have huge appreciation for all my colleagues who showed up in a big way.
Dora Giselle Maradiaga Díaz, Senior Policy Associate, Federal
I started at Guttmacher June 15. I had HR orientation meetings, administrative meetings, coalition meetings. And then the decision came—Roe was overturned, and my calendar filled up with ad hoc and reaction meetings with the people I just met the week before. It was crazy. Everyone was so sad and devastated.
I knew that this was going to happen. But then it happens, and you feel so appalled. I was in listening mode, because I was so new. Coalition members were saying, Drink a lot of water. Don’t forget to eat. And be with your loved ones. That has kept me sane.
Apapacho. It’s an Indigenous language and Mexican Spanish word. It means “caressing of the soul.” That’s how I describe what I was doing with the coalitions: giving them apapacho. Because of my new role at Guttmacher, I could do that. Give them a Guttmacher type of apapacho by listening to their concerns and giving them the data they needed for their advocacy.
Ahmet Iris, Controller
When I saw the decision, I thought, this is unfair. It’s depressing. I mean, we really went backward, and I don’t understand. It’s a very important decision for a woman to bring a child, to bring a new life to the world. That decision should be left to a woman. I see it as a basic human right. We have different abortion rules in each state now. People who can afford to can go to states that can provide this type of service, but why do we need to force people to go to another state to get help?
I always feel like I’m not doing enough. Sometimes I feel like no matter what I do, I cannot make things change. That is why we work for an organization and work as a team. At some point, things will change because all of the people who are fighting for the cause will make the change together, and things will get better. I’m actually very proud of working for Guttmacher. An institution like Guttmacher will fight, because if we don’t do it, who will?
Save the Date
Join our experts and our allies in the US and global abortion rights movement for a dynamic panel discussion on the consequences of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the challenges that lie ahead.
One Year Post-Roe: Reflections on US and Global Abortion Rights
Thursday, June 29, 2023
Hosted by: New York Society for Ethical Culture (2 W. 64th St., New York City)
7–8:30 PM ET
Melissa Murray, JD, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network at New York University; Guttmacher Board Member; CNN and MSNBC commentator
Dr. Herminia Palacio, President & CEO, Guttmacher Institute
Paula Avila-Guillen, Executive Director, Women’s Equality Center (prerecorded remarks)
Kelly Baden, Vice President for Public Policy, Guttmacher Institute
Jessica González-Rojas, New York State Assembly Member
Kwajelyn Jackson, Executive Director, Feminist Women’s Health Center
Mallah Tabot, Senior Technical Advisor, International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (prerecorded remarks)
Irum Taqi, JD, Interim Director for Public Policy, Global and Federal Issues, Guttmacher Institute
RSVP by June 21
For in-person attendance: gu.tt/OneYearPostRoeInPerson
To attend online: gu.tt/OneYearPostRoeVirtual
Phones, drones and pharmacies: Women want choices for getting contraceptives
People should be able to choose contraceptive methods that work best for them. They should also have options, both traditional and non, for where and how to get their method of choice.
That’s what Guttmacher researchers found when they asked women in three US states about their preferred way of obtaining contraception—such as at a doctor’s office, through an app, at a pharmacy, by drone or from a vending machine—and what factors played a role in these preferences. Of the 2,804 women aged 18–44 included in the study, 73% preferred more than one source of contraception.
People could pick multiple options to indicate their preferences for getting contraceptives. Their responses showed that interest in strategies other than the classic onsite-provider model was high.
71% preferred getting contraceptives at a pharmacy
64% through telehealth, meaning offsite sans interaction with a health care provider
25% through innovative, nontraditional strategies, such as bike messenger or vending machine
19% through telemedicine, delivered offsite from a health care provider
What’s more, past experiences of contraceptive care played a role in people’s current preferences. That was especially true for women who hadn’t previously received counseling that focused on their needs and preferences, those who mistrusted the health care system and LGBTQ+ respondents.
Where can I learn more? These recently published findings come from surveys conducted in 2019–2020 among women in Arizona, New Jersey and Wisconsin as part of Guttmacher’s Reproductive Health Impact Study (RHIS). The RHIS initiative investigates the negative effects of ideologically motivated federal and state policy changes on publicly funded family planning care in the United States.
The take-home message: Policies should ensure access to a variety of contraceptive sources that acknowledge and address some people’s negative experiences with contraceptive care.
Our team is working hard to confront harmful policy restrictions and anti-abortion stigma with facts that shape public debate. We have a long road ahead, but we are committed to winning the fight for reproductive freedom, no matter how long it takes.
Watch our experts explain how Guttmacher is fighting for abortion rights in this time of crisis.
We need your help to ensure we can continue this important work. Show your support at gu.tt/donate.
Research associate/data manager Monica Giuffrida called the biography about 19th-century abortion provider Madame Restell “interesting and well-researched.”
“Slate’s four-episode Slow Burn podcast series on Roe v. Wade (Season 7) was good!” says senior development assistant Rhea Goveas—and it was the Apple Podcasts Show of the Year Award winner in 2022.
The National Abortion Federation’s 2022 report on violence and harassment directed at abortion providers is, as principal research scientist Rachel K. Jones notes, a timely resource. She also valued hearing the providers tell their stories in the related interactive audio map.
Jodie Comer’s performance in Prima Facie—a play about the legal system’s failings when handling cases of sexual assault, on Broadway through July 2—was both “tough and vulnerable,” says editor Jenny Sherman. “She made it hard to look away.”
Abortion bans and laws targeting transgender individuals represent overlapping attacks on bodily autonomy: Both limit the freedom people should have to make decisions about their health, bodies and lives. The parallels are outlined here by our colleague organization Ipas, which works to advance reproductive justice around the world. As Ipas aptly notes, “It all comes down to power and control.” Fighting back means fighting against both.