My World's on Fire

By Colleen Hagerty

What disasters have to do with reproductive rights


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My World's on Fire
What disasters have to do with reproductive rights
By Colleen Hagerty • Issue #90 • View online
Thanks for reading My World’s on Fire, a newsletter about disasters from journalist Colleen Hagerty. Let’s make this a regular thing – subscribe here for disaster deep-dives, Q&As, and context in your inbox on Thursday evenings.

Note: Today’s newsletter discusses pregnancy, abortion, and sexual violence. 
I generally try to stay away from breaking news in this newsletter for a number of reasons, but as I weighed topics for this week, I kept coming back to the Supreme Court draft decision on Roe v. Wade.
I want My World’s on Fire to add value to the news you’re already consuming – to provide you with context and perspectives that can enhance your disaster-related understanding of other news you read or even your own experiences. And I think it’s important to do that relating to this clearly significant story, because this decision would impact on countless people in disaster-struck areas.
Just to give you an idea: compare this map of the 23 states and territories that would immediately ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned with this map of states that experienced billion-dollar disasters last year. 
Disasters exacerbate existing inequities in society; they expose and deepen vulnerabilities in the days, weeks, months, and years that follow. The support needed after disasters spans the different needs that arise during that time, including reproductive healthcare, as the White House acknowledged in the National Strategy on Gender Equity released last year. 
“Climate-related disasters hinder access to essential services, including sexual and reproductive health care,” the agenda says.
Earlier this week, Dr. Samantha Montano shared a case study on Twitter that looked into abortion access in Texas following Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 
Dr. Samantha Montano
Access to safe abortions is absolutely an emergency management issue.

(TW: rape)
Researchers analyzed a limited sample of data collected from a local abortion services provider, finding that the majority of callers were women of color who already had children. All had been displaced by the hurricane; the majority voiced a financial need. One of the women reported being raped while seeking shelter after the hurricane; another reported being in a “dangerous situation” with an abusive partner. (Other research has shown that there is an increase in intimate partner violence following disasters). 
“As evident, this time-sensitive and common procedure remains critical care during and post-disaster,” the study authors concluded. “While weather-related disaster interrupts travel, childcare, employment, and clinic access, abortion need continues; in fact, it is a crucial piece to medical response.”
In 2018, Pacific Standard also reported on abortions in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, focusing on how providers shifted their care to meet the landscape left after the storm. Journalist Caitlin Cruz profiled the efforts of multiple organizations, including Whole Woman’s Health, which offered free abortions following the hurricane (within the first six months, the organization said it covered the procedure for 85 people).
Another organization, Clinic Access Support Network, said it tracked a 30% increase in requests for their transportation and accommodation services for those seeking abortion care after Harvey. 
“Weeks after the storm, the organization did an emergency onboarding for new volunteers because they had so many clients to take on,” Cruz wrote in the article
Last year, E&E News looked at how some restrictive abortion laws were already clashing with disasters, with Hurricane Ida limiting the number of clinics operating for Texans seeking services they could no longer get in their state.
This is what some told the outlet they fear could become the new normal in a world without Roe v. Wade – not only people struggling to access abortion care in the wake of disasters, but people potentially putting themselves in the path of disasters in pursuit of that care, as well.
“We know overwhelmingly that people seeking abortions are already low-income and dealing with making travel arrangements and finding child care and missing work,” Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, which advocates for abortion access in the state, told E&E. “All of that stuff becomes exacerbated if you are traveling even longer distances for care and doing it in the midst of a storm or recovery, and just [as] with Hurricane Ida, some women are not going to get the abortions they need because of it.”
Mark your calendars
I’ll be hosting my first Twitter space next Thursday, May 12th at 5pm Pacific (8pm Eastern). I’ll be doing these once a month on Thursdays in the place of your regularly-scheduled newsletters, bringing on guests to really dig into various disaster-related topics and hopefully get a meet some of you!
For this first space, I’m excited to be joined by Taylor Kate Brown, author of The Planet You Save newsletter. We recently collaborated on this edition demystifying prescribed burns, and we’ll be elaborating on that subject, while delving into some more disaster and climate-related news.
Sound interesting? Click here to set a reminder to join!
Paid subscribers will receive a transcript of the chat – so, if you won’t be able to make it live, now’s a great time to sign up and make sure you don’t miss out.
As always...
thank you for subscribing to My World’s on Fire.
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This week’s subscriber shout out goes to Taylor Kate Brown (fittingly)! Thank you so much for sharing MWOF on social media:
Taylor Kate Brown
This week @colleenhagerty and I are working together (first time since the Beeb!) on everything you've ever thought to ask about "good fire" ---> sign up here
Here’s a little something for reading to the end.
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