Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in Post-Roe America

Written by Shefali Luthra

On June 24, 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and suddenly the right to an abortion in America was no longer guaranteed. The impact was by the beginning of 2023, the procedure was virtually unavailable or significantly restricted in 20 states. As other nations largely expand legal abortion access, the U.S. has gone backwards; the bans being enforced in many states are some of the most severe in the entire world.

In Undue Burden, reporter Shefali Luthra traces the unforgettable stories of patients faced with one of the most personal decisions of their lives. Outside of Houston, there’s a 16-year-old girl who becomes pregnant well before she intends to, and is unable to get the abortion she so desperately wants. A 21-year-old mother barely making ends meet has to travel hundreds of miles in secret to access care in another state. A 42-year-old woman with a life-threatening condition wants nothing more than to safely carry her pregnancy to term, but her home state’s abortion bans fail to provide her with the options she needs to make an informed decision. And a 19-year-old trans man struggles to access care in Florida as abortion bans radiate across the American South.

Before, it was a common misconception that abortion restrictions affected only people in certain states, but left one’s own life untouched. Now, patients forced to travel to access care creates a domino effect across the entire country. As the landscape of abortion rights continues to shift, the experiences of these patients—those who had to cross state lines to seek life-saving care, who risked everything they had in pursuit of their own bodily autonomy, and who were unable to plan their reproductive future in the way that they deserved—illustrates how fragile the system is, and how devastating the consequences can be.

Through the perspectives of patients, providers, activists, and lawmakers, Undue Burden is a revelatory portrait of human rights, healthcare, and economic and racial inequality in America.