by Kellen Squire
In June of 2022, I wrote an article here on Blue Virginia about the ramifications of Roe versus Wade being overturned by the US Supreme Court- my postulations on what we had in store on the horizon, based on my experience providing abortion care as an ER Nurse, and seeing and hearing from my colleagues around the country what they were going through.
One of the more unfortunately prescient predictions I made was that we would have “abortion trafficking” laws start to pop up- that the assurance that “we’re just sending the issue back to the states!” was bullshit, and anyone who believed it was delusional.
Here’s part of what I wrote about that:
Which is how, a few weeks later, eleven medical staff at the medical center found themselves being served legal paperwork to appear in court in another state- or face extradition. That’s right; even though Texas has a backlog of over 3,500 untested rape kits, they have decided their priority is looking to prosecute women who have abortions and go after abortion providers, even those out of state, even those in emergency services, because they “want to make an example of these women”.
Which is why the news out of Idaho is incredibly chilling: they just became the first state to implement an interstate travel restriction on abortion care since the Supreme Court repealed federal protections last year. “Abortion trafficking” is now a felony, and legislators there have made it clear that they will go after anyone who “aids and abets” an Idahoan from getting an abortion.
Now, this Idaho statute is incredibly unconstitutional. I mean, laughably so. But when you have a Supreme Court that is an open cesspool, with a majority of justices that will sign their decisions openly with “LOL we’re just doing this because we can”, then we need to understand the danger this has for all of us. All of us. And, critically, abortion providers… precisely as I predicted:
The story quickly garnered national media attention. The Charlottesville City and Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorneys steadfastly refused to cooperate, putting their offices in between the legal storm and the medical professionals that kept their community safe. Unfortunately for them, Jason Miyares, Virginia’s new Attorney General, had ambitions for higher office- he’d made it no small secret he was auditioning for a spot in a potential DeSantis administration- and pledged publicly to cooperate with any extradition request, feigning helplessness to “cooperate with a legitimate law enforcement request”.
While the situation for these medical providers was eventually resolved, it took hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and many months of fighting. The attending physician and three of the nurses involved left the medical field entirely, depriving the area’s only Level One emergency department with a combined eighty years of medical experience between them- and negatively affecting every single person in the central Virginia area.
That’s a feature of these laws. Not a bug. Go after providers, engage in stochastic terrorism, because even if they lose their case, they win. Again, without encouraging copycat events, I’ve already personally been targeted in this manner because of how open I’ve been about abortion during my campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates.
And the reason they do it is because it works. I was warned to take my kids out of school the day the news broke about me. And assurances to providers of “Don’t worry, if they try to extradite you, you’ll win your case!” fall completely flat. Because what ER nurse, what OB-GYN, what provider of ANY stripe has the ability to spend years in the legal system fighting to protect themselves?
Take a gander at what’s already happening, even before this abomination of a bill was signed into law:
And the state’s severe restrictions are having immediate effects: Many OB-GYNs are leaving the state for fear of civil and criminal punishments for doing their jobs, and two hospitals have been forced to close their labor and delivery wards because of a lack of physicians.
After that happened, I heard from a lot of people who said “Well, that’s horrible for the women in Idaho, but that’ll never happen in (blue state). But we all need to understand an absolute truth right now:
What happens in red states doesn’t stay in red states.
Abortion providers need protection. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t give a single damn what our Republican AG, or the ones in other states may do- I will continue to do my job and provide the lifesaving abortion care we provide in the ER, which I’ve done my whole career and will continue to do. I don’t know a single other of my colleagues who won’t do the exact same thing- we will never give up the patients we care for.
Which is why they’re going down the stochastic terrorism route. It’s why they’re going to openly see which Democrats are for sale, so they can get them to flip parties and attack women. Because they know providers won’t give up patients- but they can make us seek other jobs, to leave healthcare entirely. They know they will always be able to get medical care; who cares if other people aren’t?
I’m running for the Virginia House of Delegates specifically because I understand firsthand the dangers that puts on all of us. That’s what’s going on in Idaho, and other states right now- rather than be put into that position, healthcare providers are leaving. With North Carolina’s newly-minted and traitorous GOP legislative supermajority, Virginia could well be the last redoubt of life-saving abortion medical care in the South.
I don’t care if you’re in a bright blue state – write your legislators and make sure they are passing something like Virginia Senator Scott Surovell’s Abortion Provider extradition protection law. We need to do everything we can to protect them until we can codify Roe, and stop a system where ER providers have to follow guidelines set by lawyers and politicians about whether or not someone is “dying” enough to have bodily autonomy. To stop a system where a ten-year old is old enough to be a parent, and people will seek retribution against the people providing her with care.
We have to work together to fight this- because there are so many who are already going to suffer because of how the system is, fighting against people who don’t care how many of their own constituents die…
… as long as they have power.