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As Supreme Court Steers Towards Oppressing Reproductive Rights — PMC Gears up to Bear Witness with New Podcast Series, “Crossing the Line”

Photo Credit: Lynn Hughes

At Population Media Center, we are deeply concerned about the US Supreme Court hearing of December 1, 2021 (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19- 1392).

The NY Times summarized our fears succinctly: “After two hours of sometimes tense exchanges in one of the most significant abortion cases in years, the court appeared poised to uphold the [Mississippi] state law, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

Our colleagues at the Population Institute have noted that all abortion restrictions tend to impose especially harsh logistical and financial burdens on those who already are subject to systemic barriers to health care. For example, “due to structural racism and income inequality, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) have a higher likelihood of being eligible for Medicaid and other government health coverage compared to their white counterparts.” These plans have restrictions that require those seeking abortion services to pay out of pocket, a health expenditure many cannot afford. Pre-viability bans will only make these dynamics worse.

If our fears are realized, more than 36 million women could lose practical access to abortion care. Because numerous states have already regressed and adopted oppressive abortion policies, a volunteer movement for reproductive rights has emerged, supported by abortion funds nationwide, with the goal of assisting women and individuals seeking access to abortion services.

Population Media Center believes in bringing awareness to these barriers, which impact mostly poor and marginalized people of color, by documenting the significant challenges involved for many seeking an abortion in the U.S. To address this, we have a new project in pre-production: Crossing the Line, a 10-episode “veritè-style” podcast series. We will feature true stories from this abortion underground. Every episode will chronicle the real-life journeys of people wanting to terminate an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, the volunteers who shepherd them across city and state lines, and the tireless medical staff who tend to them.

As part of our Crossing the Line podcast prep, we had a documentary crew outside of the Supreme Court on December 1st to gather interviews with key stakeholders. They interviewed the plaintiff and lead attorney for the case, plus spoke to activists in the crowd, as well as attendees who had their own abortion stories to share. This audio and video footage will be featured in the podcast and on the micro-website for the series.

According to field producer, Lynn Hughes, “The tenor outside the court changed from upbeat to confrontational and angry as the day went on — when we arrived, it wasn’t exactly hopeful, but it was positive and powerful in the way that marches, and protests can be. And yet, the atmosphere became increasingly intimidating. The pro-life crew was chanting hateful and offensive statements about women who get abortions and the police started doing walkthroughs to make their presence known. The last woman we interviewed was later arrested.” 

Crossing the Line was created by PMC’s Head of U.S. Content, Lisa Caruso, who says, “This podcast will feature powerful, human-interest stories that provide an authentic voice and experience – aimed to shed new light on an issue that continues to galvanize political parties, religious entities, and families across the country – and reveal the consequences suffered when basic human rights are denied.”

Be on the lookout for more details on the development and 2022 release of Crossing the Line.