Small, Rural Communities Have Become Abortion Access Battlegrounds

In April, Mark Lee Dickson arrived in this 4,500-person city that hugs the Utah-Nevada border to pitch an ordinance banning abortion.

Dickson is the director of the anti-abortion group Right to Life of East Texas and founder of another organization that has spent the past few years traveling the United States trying to persuade local governments to pass abortion bans.

“Sixty-five cities and two counties across the United States” have passed similar restrictions, he told members of the West Wendover City Council during a mid-April meeting. The majority are in Texas, but recent successes in other states have buoyed Dickson and his group. “We’re doing this in Virginia and Illinois and Montana and other places as well,” he said.

The quest to enact local bans has become particularly acute in small towns, like West Wendover and Hobbs, New Mexico, which are situated by borders between states that have restricted abortion and states where laws preserve access. They are crossroads where abortion advocates and providers have looked to establish clinics to serve people traveling from the large swaths of the U.S. where states have banned or severely restricted abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nearly 50-year-old nationwide abortion protections established by the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

Read more.