This Nebraska town just banned abortion
Does it matter if abortion is legal if it's not accessible?
In Hayes Center, Nebraska (population 288), it's now illegal to have an abortion (surgical or medical), help someone get an abortion, or perform an abortion, lest they face a $500 penalty. On April 6th, the town, assisted by Texas's Mark Lee Dickson, founder of Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, became the 24th city in the US, and the first outside of Texas, to outlaw abortion. In advance of the inevitable lawsuit, former Texas solicitor general Jonathan F. Mitchell has volunteered his services for free to the city as a defender. Mitchell has also defended seven East Texas cities being sued by the ACLU over the Sanctuary Cities ordinances. And unlike the cities that have passed similar ordinances, which have been decided upon by all-male councils, Hayes Center's was initiated by Village Chairwoman Kimberle Primavera, and the board that passed it was made up of almost exclusively women.
Abortion is legal in Nebraska, regardless of what's going on in Hayes Center. But the question remains that same: Does it matter if it's legal if it's not accessible? No. Hayes Center is located in west-central Nebraska, 300 plus miles from Bellevue, 250 from Lincoln, and 300 from Omaha. These major cities are the only places where one can access abortion care in a clinic in the state. If one chooses to travel to another state for an abortion, the closest is Denver, Colorado, which is 215 miles away, about 4 hours worth of driving, one way.
In addition to the burden of travel (and childcare, and lodging, and food, time off from work, etc), abortion seekers in Nebraska also face a waiting period of 24 hours, a separate counseling session, and, if they're under 18, the permission of one parent given 48 hours before the abortion, unless they've received a judicial bypass.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of 2107, 97% of Nebrasks counties have no abortion provider, and 40% of women lived in those counties. Hayes Center is already located far from the nearest abortion provider, so, one might argue, the ordinance banning abortion is nothing more than an empty gesture. For folks in Hayes Center who find themselves seeking abortion, however, it's much bigger than that -- the culture of the very small town where they live is saturated in abortion stigma, and so even discussing the subject can be dangerous, isolating, and full of misinformation.
Until now, "sanctuary cities" have mainly existed in East Texas (Waskom, Naples, Joaquin, Tenaha, Gilmer, Westbrook, Rusk, Colorado City, and soon, Big Spring, the largest of the cities with a population of almost 30,000). Riverton, Utah became a sanctuary city in 2019, and other towns in New Mexico and North Carolina have attempted to pass similar ordinances. Every time a sanctuary city pops up, it emboldens others, and the spread of these cities endangers the health of residents, sending the message that abortion stigma, rather than bodily autonomy, is a core value.
You can opt to self manage your own abortion if you can't access a clinic, or don't feel good about going to one. The reason that's best for you is the right reason. For more information about abortion pills, visit our FAQs.