AP journalists tell the stories of women facing increasingly restrictive state laws, and accompany a woman during her abortion.
Two of the most challenging aspects of covering the ongoing abortion story in the U.S. are getting inside abortion clinics and telling the stories of women who have decided to end their pregnancies. So it was significant when two AP journalists gained exclusive access to a pair of abortion clinics — and to a woman who allowed them to follow her through the entire abortion process.
Since the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade, AP medical writer Lindsey Tanner has sought unique stories about new abortion restrictions and how they affect patients. Tanner, who has been covering abortion for years, was working on a different story when she connected with a clinic manager several months before the ruling. After the Supreme Court ruling, she reached out again to her sources, discovering a timely situation: a clinic in Ohio that was counseling patients, then sending them to a sister clinic in Indianapolis for abortions. The arrangement is temporary, because Indiana is slated to add more abortion restrictions on Sept. 15. But it offered a window into how women across the U.S. are navigating a patchwork of ever-changing state laws.
Tanner worked with the clinic staff to let her and video journalist Patrick Orsagos see both clinics in operation. Their hope: to find one woman willing to fully share her story. They found her in Monica Eberhart, who agreed to let Orsagos record video — from her early morning routine at home to, crucially, the clinic room during her abortion.
The AP duo worked closely to tell the woman’s story with sensitivity and candor. They even prepared her for possible blowback online. Orsagos tastefully recorded the abortion itself and worked with AP editors to craft a story that allowed viewers to see the procedure without being graphic or exploitative. He and a freelance photographer Jay LaPrete also returned to Eberhart’s home a few weeks later to get her thoughts on undergoing the procedure.
Tanner’s story was equally sensitive, weaving together Eberhart’s tale with the stories of other women who had been in the clinic. They included a nurse and a retail worker who each got pregnant when birth control failed, a factory worker certain she would go to hell for having an abortion, and a high school honors student whose mom revealed that she had aborted pregnancies decades ago.
The resulting package drew attention and performed well on social media: The video had more than 616,000 views on Facebook and another 52,000 views on Twitter.
For access and reporting that bought a rare and timely perspective to the issue of abortion, Tanner and Orsagos earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.