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Clara Ferreira Marques

How Abortion Pills Changed the Political Debate in Ireland

A conversation with social scientist Sydney Calkin of Queen Mary University of London on how the advent of medication abortion shifted politics and activism.

A different conversation.

A different conversation.

Photographer: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images Europe

If the US Supreme Court overturns the five-decade-old constitutional right to abortion, as expected, many women will find it far harder to end an unwanted pregnancy. But this won’t be a return to pre-1973, largely thanks to changes to medical technology. Abortion pills, often taken at home, are already making the reality of abortion easier and safer in the early stages of gestation. And even with inevitable new restrictions, they are set to change the political fight too.

Sydney Calkin is a senior lecturer in human geography at Queen Mary University of London and the author of a forthcoming book,  “Abortion Beyond Borders: Abortion Pills and the Future of Reproductive Freedoms.” Her work has focused on cross-border abortion access and activism, an area where politics, gender and reproduction overlap. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Clara Ferreira Marques:  After the leaked draft majority opinion this month, the US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling. How will that leave the US in comparison with the rest of the world?