A 13-year-old girl in Mississippi gave birth to a boy after she was raped as well as impregnated by a stranger – and then was unable to get an abortion, according to a Time magazine report published on Monday.
The mother of the girl, who uses the pseudonym Ashley in the report, was looking to get an abortion for her daughter but was told the closest abortion provider was in Chicago – a drive of more than nine hours from their home in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Ashley’s mother, referred to as Regina in the report, told Time that the cost of getting an abortion in Chicago was too expensive when considering the price of travel, taking time off work and getting the abortion for her daughter.
“I don’t have the funds for all this,” Regina told Time.
The report is the latest in a series of horrific personal accounts that have surfaced after the US supreme court overturned the nationwide abortion access rights which had been established by the Roe v Wade precedent. Since the decision, titled Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 14 state laws banning abortion have gone into effect, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The women’s health clinic that was at the center of the case was the last abortion provider in Mississippi until it closed last summer after the Dobbs decision.
Last summer, just a week after the ruling, a local newspaper in Ohio reported that a 10-year-old who was raped had to travel to Indiana for an abortion because of restrictions in her state. A man was found guilty last month of raping and impregnating the girl in that case, and he received a sentence of life imprisonment.
Other stories detail how women nearly died because doctors had to wait until their life was at risk to perform an abortion – or that many women now have to travel long distances to get any kind of reproductive healthcare. An estimated 25 million women ages 15 to 33 live in states that have abortion restrictions.
With respect to Monday’s Time report, Ashley discovered she was pregnant after her mother took her to the hospital for uncontrollable vomiting. Regina noticed that Ashley was behaving differently, staying in her room when she used to enjoy going outside to record TikTok dances. Upon receiving bloodwork showing Ashley was pregnant, the hospital contacted the police.
“What have you been doing?” a nurse asked Ashley at that time, according to the report. The hospital ultimately directed Ashley to the Clarksdale Women’s Clinic, which provides OB-GYN services. The clinic did not respond to requests from the Guardian for comment.
“It was surreal for her,” Dr Erica Balthrop, Ashley’s physician, told Time. “She just had no clue.”
Before Dobbs, Balthrop could have directed Regina to a Memphis abortion clinic that was a 90-minute drive north, or to Jackson Women’s Health, which is a 2.5-hour drive south. But Mississippi – along with all the states surrounding it – has banned abortion.
Mississippi, along with many other states that also ban abortions, technically make exceptions for when the pregnancy is from rape or is life-threatening. But abortions granted under these exceptions are extremely rare and poorly tracked.
In January, the New York Times reported that Mississippi made two exceptions since the state’s abortion ban went into effect. The state requires that a rape be reported to law enforcement in order to qualify for a legal abortion.