When Barbara Schwartz looks back at her younger days working as a Broadway stagehand, she remembers the electricity of it: the harried dancers slipping into their costumes backstage, the props people shoving past with flashlights between their teeth.
She was able to throw herself into that high-pressure career, she said, because of a choice she made in 1976. She got an abortion at a clinic she found in the Yellow Pages. It was three years after the Roe v. Wade ruling established the constitutional right to an abortion; to Ms. Schwartz, the world seemed full of new professional opportunities for women. She got a credit card in her own name, became one of the first women to make it into the local stagehand union and joined the throngs backstage at shows including “Cats” and “Miss Saigon.”
Ms. Schwartz, 69, is now retired. She is spending her retirement years escorting women to the doors of an abortion clinic on the border of Virginia and Tennessee. She was drawn to this volunteer work, she said, because to her, the promise from her 20s has dimmed — the result of laws that have chipped away at abortion access, with a leaked draft Supreme Court ruling this past week revealing that Roe is likely to be overturned.
“This is my giant pay it forward,” Ms. Schwartz said.
That is how Ginny Jelatis, 67, thinks about it too. She was of high school senior age the year Roe v. Wade was decided; she began serving as a clinic escort after retiring from her work as a history professor in 2016.
43 percent in 1970 to 57.4 percent in 2019. Many different factors drove women into the work force in greater numbers in those years, but scholars argue that abortion access was an important one.
poll in 2021 found that 59 percent of Americans said they believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 39 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Recent Pew data indicates that women are slightly more likely than men to say abortion should be legal in all cases, and younger people, between the ages of 18 and 29, are far more likely than older adults to say abortion should be legal in some or all cases.
Justice Harry A. Blackmun, a modest Midwestern Republican and a defender of the right to abortion, wrote the majority opinion.
What was the case about? The ruling struck down laws in many states that had barred abortion, declaring that they could not ban the procedure before the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. That point, known as fetal viability, was around 28 weeks when Roe was decided. Today, most experts estimate it to be about 23 or 24 weeks.
What else did the case do? Roe v. Wade created a framework to govern abortion regulation based on the trimesters of pregnancy. In the first trimester, it allowed almost no regulations. In the second, it allowed regulations to protect women’s health. In the third, it allowed states to ban abortions so long as exceptions were made to protect the life and health of the mother. In 1992, the court tossed that framework, while affirming Roe’s essential holding.
Recent research has tried to understand the role abortion access plays in women’s employment. Most notable is the Turnaway Study, conducted at the University of California, San Francisco. Researchers followed two groups of women — a group that wanted and got abortions, and another that wanted abortions and were unable to obtain them — for five years and found that those unable to get abortions had worse economic outcomes. Almost two-thirds of those who did not have an abortion they had sought out were living in poverty six months later, compared with 45 percent of those who got the procedure.
patchwork of state laws on abortion access, with 13 states set to ban abortion immediately or very quickly after the court’s ruling. There is likely a correlation between the regions of the country where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and those with the fewest child care and parental leave options, according to an analysis of research findings from the financial site WalletHub.
For older women who felt they were able to attain financial stability because of the decision to have an abortion, there is resonance in sharing their stories with the younger women they meet at clinics today.
“The older folks I work with can remember that dread of, ‘My God, what if it happens to me?’” said Ms. Deiermann, who spent most of her career working in reproductive health advocacy.
Many clinic volunteers, like Ms. Deiermann, remember when their classmates and friends got illegal abortions. Telling those stories feels more urgent than ever.
Karen Kelley, 67, a retired labor and delivery nurse in Idaho, who volunteers at an abortion clinic there, spent her childhood aligned with her Roman Catholic family’s anti-abortion views. Then she found herself pregnant in her early 20s, without an income to support a baby. Realizing that motherhood could “derail all her hopes,” she chose to terminate that pregnancy, about six years after Roe.
That’s a memory Ms. Kelley conveys to the women she escorts to the clinic’s steps. “If I’m asked, I’m always honest that I understand how they’re feeling because I had an abortion and they have every right to make the decision,” she said.
And some older women said that the position they’re in now — retired, with savings and stability — is something they trace back to Roe.
“It gave us a chance to decide to marry and have a family later,” said Eileen Ehlers, 74, a retired high school English teacher and a mother.
What Roe gave her, she said, is something she can now pour back into volunteering: “We have time.”
NEW DELHI — Rajni Gill woke up with a slight fever in mid-April, the first warning that she had Covid-19. Within a few days, she was breathless and nearly unconscious in a hospital.
Desperate to arrange plasma treatment for Ms. Gill, a gynecologist in the city of Noida, her family called doctors, friends, anyone they thought could help. Then her sister posted a plea on Facebook: “I am looking for a plasma donor for my sister who is hospitalized in Noida. She is B positive and is 43.”
The message, quickly amplified on Twitter, flashed across the phone of Srinivas B.V., an opposition politician in nearby Delhi, who was just then securing plasma for a college student. He deputized a volunteer donor to rush to the blood bank for Ms. Gill.
“The administration and systems have collapsed,” Mr. Srinivas said. “I have never seen so many people dying at the same time.”
tuk-tuk drivers, who have mobilized online to help the sick, some of them hundreds of miles away. Collectively, they have formed grass-roots networks that are stepping in where state and national governments have failed.
It is a role that Mr. Srinivas, 38, has played before in times of crisis.
As the president of the opposition Indian National Congress party’s youth league, he has provided support after natural disasters, including earthquakes and floods. He has worked to get textbooks to underprivileged children and medicine to people who couldn’t afford it.
India locked down, Mr. Srinivas galvanized young volunteers across the country who distributed food for stranded migrants, along with more than 10 million masks. He now heads a team of 1,000 people, including 100 in Delhi, the center of the current outbreak.
84-second video explaining his techniques so that others can use them.
got a lot of attention, given the intense criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the pandemic. (The commission said its appeal had been “misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.”)
Mr. Srinivas’s volunteers use direct messaging to collect data on people needing help, then classify them by risk profile. They work with people on the ground to arrange hospital beds and plasma donations for the most serious cases. Others are put in touch with doctors who can provide remote consultations.
Often, the system’s deficiencies are too great to overcome.
Mahua Ray Chaudhuri frantically tagged Mr. Srinivas looking for oxygen for her sick father. His team found some, but that wasn’t enough: No I.C.U. beds were available.
“At least I could get him oxygen, and he died breathing,” Ms. Chaudhuri said by telephone, breaking down. “This help from strangers on Twitter was like a balm for our disturbed minds and souls.”
But Mr. Srinivas’s team was able to getplasma for Ms. Gill, the gynecologist, just in time. She is now recuperating in a hospital on the outskirts of Delhi.
“I feel choked with emotions,” she said. “Coming out of such a fatal time, I realize I have been helped selflessly by complete strangers.”
She recently called Mr. Srinivas to thank him. “Though I have never met her, it was a humbling experience hearing her voice,” he said. “I am so relieved she made it.”
TOKYO — For Olympic host cities, one of the keys to a successful Games is the army of volunteers who cheerfully perform a range of duties, like fetching water, driving Olympic vehicles, interpreting for athletes or carrying medals to ceremonies.
If the rescheduled Tokyo Games go ahead as planned this summer, roughly 78,000 volunteers will have another responsibility: preventing the spread of the coronavirus, both among participants and themselves.
For protection, the volunteers are being offered little more than a couple of cloth masks, a bottle of sanitizer and mantras about social distancing. Unless they qualify for vaccination through Japan’s slow age-based rollout, they will not be inoculated against the coronavirus.
“I don’t know how we’re going to be able to do this,” said Akiko Kariya, 40, a paralegal in Tokyo who signed up to volunteer as an interpreter. The Olympic committee “hasn’t told us exactly what they will do to keep us safe.”
assure the globe that Tokyo can pull off the Games in the midst of a pandemic, the volunteers have been left largely on their own to figure out how to avoid infection.
Much of the planning for the postponed Olympics has a seat-of-the-pants quality. With less than three months to go before the opening ceremony, the organizers have yet to decide whether domestic spectators will be admitted, or hammer out details about who, besides the athletes, will be tested regularly.
Tens of thousands of participants will descend on Tokyo from more than 200 countries after nearly a year in which Japan’s borders have been largely closed to outsiders. The volunteers’ assignments will bring them into contact with many of the Olympic visitors, as they pass in and out of a “bubble” that will encompass the Olympic Village and other venues.
leaflet distributed to volunteers advises them to ask visitors to stand at least one meter — a little over three feet — apart. During shifts, they should disinfect their hands frequently. If offering assistance to someone, they should avoid directly facing the other person and never talk without a mask.
“Mask wearing and hand washing are very basic, but doing that to the max is the most important thing we can do,” said Natsuki Den, senior director of volunteer promotion for the Tokyo organizing committee.
“People often say, ‘That is so basic, is that all you can do?’” Ms. Den said. But if every volunteer implements these basic measures, she said, “it can really limit the risk. Beyond that, it is hard to think of any magic countermeasures, because they don’t really exist.”
Even as a majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to hosting the Olympics this year, many volunteers say they are committed, at least in principle, to fostering international fellowship after more than a year of isolation. (The ranks of volunteers did take a sizable hit when about 1,000 volunteers quit after the first president of the Tokyo organizing committee, Toshiro Mori, made sexist comments.)
But volunteers worry about their own health as well as the safety of the athletes and other Olympic participants, especially as Tokyo experiences new spikes in virus cases. The capital is currently under a state of emergency.
“I am scared that I would get the virus and show no symptoms, and accidentally give it to the athletes,” said Yuto Hirano, 30, who works at a technology company in Tokyo and is assigned to help athletes backstage at the Paralympics events for boccia, a ball sport. “I want to protect myself so that I can protect them.”
postponed last year encouraged them to “address people with a smile.” In online sessions and other messaging since, Ms. Holthus said, “they still keep saying, ‘Oh, and your smile is going to be so important.’”
“We’re supposed to be wearing masks,” she said. “So I find that very insensitive.”
Not every volunteer has serious concerns about safety. Some said that they expected widespread compliance with the rules, given what’s on the line.
“I think athletes will do whatever it takes to participate in the Olympics,” said Philbert Ono, a travel writer, photographer and translator.
“If we tell them to wear a mask, they will wear a mask,” he said. “When they have meals, they will sit way far apart and separated and facing only one direction. So I think they are very disciplined and they know what is at stake.”
LONDON — Minority communities in Britain have long felt estranged from the government and medical establishment, but their sense of alienation is suddenly proving more costly than ever amid a coronavirus vaccination campaign that depends heavily on trust.
With Britons enjoying one of the fastest vaccination rollouts in the world, skepticism about jabs remains high in many of the very communities where Covid-19 has taken the heaviest toll.
“The government’s response to the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been rather limited,” said Dr. Raja Amjid Riaz, 52, a surgeon who is also a leader at the Central Mosque of Brent, an ethnically diverse borough of North London. “Those people have not been catered for.”
As a result, communities like Brent offer fertile ground for the most outlandish of vaccine rumors, from unfounded claims that they affect fertility to the outright fabrication that the shots are being used to inject microchips.
hit disproportionately hard both by the pandemic itself and by the lockdowns that followed, many local leaders like Dr. Riaz have taken it upon themselves to act.
Some are well-known and trusted figures like religious leaders. Others are local health care workers. And still others are ordinary community members like Umit Jani, a 46-year-old Brent resident.
Mr. Jani’s face is one of many featured on 150 lamppost posters across the borough encouraging residents to get tested for the virus and vaccinated, part of a local government initiative.
The goal is to reframe the community’s relationship with the power structure, and perhaps establish some trust.
second-highest rate of Covid-19 deaths in Britain.
One recent Saturday morning, Mr. Jani set out with another man to survey local residents, setting up a table by a convenience store as nearly a thousand people lined up outside a food bank nearby. The survey was about mental health services, but Mr. Jani took the opportunity to ask about the pandemic.
“Are you afraid to take the vaccine?” he asked one local man.
The man, speaking in Gujarati, a language native to India, said he wanted to take the vaccine, but first wanted to consult with his doctor because he feared an adverse reaction.
Despite this man’s concerns, Mr. Jani said he believed their efforts were making headway.
“It’s become less of a challenge to persuade people,” said Mr. Jani, who himself recently had his first shot.
The numbers appear to back that up: A survey led by Imperial College London and YouGov found that in February, almost 77 percent of people in Britain said they would take a vaccine if offered, up from 55 percent in November.
But other numbers make clear how far the country still has to go.
A government report found that vaccination rates in people 70 and older from early December to mid-March were lowest among the country’s Black African, Black Caribbean and Bangladeshi communities. It also noted that those living in deprived areas like Brent, where the poverty rate of 33 percent is slightly above London’s, were less likely to receive a shot.
colorblind approach” toward distributing vaccines during a pandemic that has not hit all communities equally.
“I think often they’ve overlooked the benefits of local leadership,” said Dr. Azeem Majeed, a professor and department head in primary care and public health at Imperial College London.
In January, the British government said it would give local governments and other groups 23 million pounds, about $31 million, toward encouraging vaccinations among people most at risk from the coronavirus, including minority groups.
Long before the government took that initiative, some local community leaders were already on the job, trying to dispel conspiracy theories and increase vaccinations. They have waged their campaign both online and door-to-door, and have run workshops aimed at countering misinformation.
At Dr. Riaz’s mosque, leaders have been working for months to tackle vaccine hesitancy through a help line, WhatsApp chats, weekly sermons and webinars. And as Ramadan approaches, they are hoping they will be able to vaccinate people who attend mosque after daily fasting.
While the government’s pandemic guidance has been issued in English, community leaders have offered multilingual messages on videos and local radio stations. That approach has particular resonance in a place like Brent, where 149 languages are spoken.
open letter this past week from well-known names, among them the comedian and actor Lenny Henry, urged Black Britons to get vaccinated.
The reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary.
It is not just baseless claims, like those in social media videos and messages circulated on outlets like WhatsApp that maintain — incorrectly — that the vaccines contain animal products forbidden under some religious practices.
Some are simply worried the drugs were developed too quickly. And, research suggests, that much of the hesitation grows out of Britain’s long history of racism and discrimination, as well as a general mistrust of the government and the medical establishment.
Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, a Hindu temple that has inoculated nearly 20,000 people.
“There are fewer doctors who are coming out to tell us exactly what is going on and how this is affecting us,” said Ms. Muyisa, 54.
She considers herself lucky: “I educated myself. I managed to go and find information that helped me understand things.”
Zarvesha Rasool, a 19-year-old student at King’s College London, was inspired to get vaccinated by her faith, and went for her jab at the East London Newham Minhaj-ul-Quran mosque and community center, where she helps teach Quranic studies. Ms. Rasool pointed out that a central tenet of Islam is the importance of looking out not just for oneself but also for the greater good.
“If the government isn’t doing that, you kind of have to tell them, ‘Oh, we exist,’” she said. “Because that’s the only way out.”
In the northern English city of Leeds, Qari Asim, a senior imam, was spurred to action after seeing misinformation spread on WhatsApp in January.
Mr. Asim, the chairman of Britain’s Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, delivered a sermon that was shared across more than 100 mosques in which he reassured listeners that the vaccines are allowed under Islamic law.
Since then, over 300 mosques have addressed vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Mr. Asim has also urged mosques to open their doors to the vaccine campaign.
“In this pandemic,” Mr. Asim said, “the messenger is as important as the message.”