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Perspective from a Pennsylvania abortion provider in light of the potential repeal of Roe v. Wade

Matt Rourke

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Health care providers are seeing pregnant people cross state lines for abortion care 
(0:00 - 8:56)

The news of a leaked draft opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court suggesting Roe v. Wade might be overturned has rocked abortion-rights advocates.

Demonstrators gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh last night to demand federal protections for abortion rights.

Although the draft’s authenticity was confirmed, this isn’t the final opinion of the court.

Dr. Beatrice Chen, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, says although the draft was a surprise, the potential for a weakening of abortion rights was not unexpected, given the conservative makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We've been working together on communicating across states, communicating via Zoom and other mechanisms like that to figure out how we can care for patients, patient navigators, things that we can do to help patients access care in different states for abortion will still be legal even if Roe v. Wade is overturned,” says Chen.

States across the country, including some near Pennsylvania, have so-called “trigger bans” that would ban or limit access to abortion should Roe be overturned.

“We're already seeing patients from Texas here in Pittsburgh,” says Chen. “These patients who are traveling are the people who have the means to travel. Unfortunately, overturning Roe v. Wade is going to have a disproportionate impact on the patients who don't have the resources to travel… This is going to increase health care disparities that already exist.”

South Side location for immigration court hearings closed, limiting access for undocumented residents
(9:03 - 17:07)

An immigration court in Pittsburgh that served those in the region and the whole of West Virginia is now closed.

The Pittsburgh location was an office where the immigration judge, based in Philadelphia, was connecting via video conference for hearings. Those who need to attend hearings now have to either travel to Philadelphia, or connect virtually by themselves.

Advocates for undocumented immigrants are pushing to find alternatives.

The clients who often use this court are asylum seekers, says Laura Perkins, the emergency response organizer with Casa San Jose.

“We have to acknowledge that not everyone is privileged with technological literacy,” says Perkins. “The fact that we're putting someone's immigration case, which could potentially end in deportation, in the hands of technology is quite frightening.”

Last week Casa San Jose participated in a stakeholders meeting about the closure of the Pittsburgh court, but Perkins says nobody from the Department of Justice or the Executive Office of Immigration Review was in attendance.

“This has been a rushed process with a complete lack of transparency,” says Perkins. “The community members are not getting the right information and again, not getting the right information could end in deportation for folks just for just because of confusion, not for a lack of wanting to comply.”

The Mexican War Streets weren’t home to a war, so how did they get their name?
(17:13 - 22:30)

In Pittsburgh, there’s a neighborhood named for war. 90.5 WESA’s Katie Blackley reports on the history of the Mexican War Streets for our Good Question! series.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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