Dr. Rebecca Taub, who is an Ob-Gyn specializing in family planning, travels once a month from Berkeley to the Trust Women’s clinic in Oklahoma to perform both surgical and medical abortions. In the two days at the clinic the 36-year-old will perform two dozen abortions a day at Trust Women. She travels here at least once a month because the clinic can’t find enough local doctors to perform abortions in a state where the procedure is culturally shunned — and demand is surging.
Traditionally, most doctors have avoided politics. But to Taub this is work rooted in social justice and as urgent as ever, when the right to an abortion soon could virtually disappear in many states, even as 1 in 4 women terminates a pregnancy by the time she is 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute. “Abortion is political,” Taub said in the genial, matter-of-fact tone that dominates her fast-paced conversation. “There’s no way to uncouple providing this care from the political aspect of it. Politics have a direct impact on the work that we do every day.”
Before a Texas law took effect in September that bans nearly all abortions after an embryonic heartbeat is detected — usually around six weeks — and makes no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse or incest, the Trust Women clinic scheduled 20 to 30 appointments per day. Now it’s booking 50. Its rotating roster of out-of-town physicians like Taub has swelled from four or five to 17. The volume of calls to the clinic has doubled, and a majority of the inquiries are from Texas. Some of the women drive over six hours to be treated. Dr. Taub finds her work extremely gratifying. She said “When you provide an abortion for someone, you are really changing their life in a really meaningful way. They are in a situation that they know that they cannot be in, and you are able to go in and solve that problem. You’re giving them their whole life back.”