May 6, 2022 - Health
Axios Explains: Abortion

Abortion providers plan for the end of Roe

Illustration of a boarded-up window; the boards form a red cross.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Abortion clinics are already preparing to shift people and resources away from red states, in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The other side: Blue states — including California, Oregon, Minnesota, Maryland and Massachusetts — are taking steps to prepare for a potential influx in patients seeking abortion care if Roe falls.

Many abortion providers "are planning to move or travel to places where they will be able to continue to care for patients," Alhambra Frarey, an OB-GYN in Pennsylvania and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement.

  • That means there is likely going to be a "saturation" of abortion providers in urban areas, particularly in blue states, said Iman Alsaden, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, which covers Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

"We have been preparing preemptively for this decision for a long time," said Sarah Traxler, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS), which covers: Iowa Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. She is also an abortion provider in St. Paul.

  • "We know that there are certain places in the country where we need to shore up access and make sure that we have space available for patients coming from all over."
  • She expects to see a 10% to 25% increase in demand for services in Minnesota, where access to abortion is protected by a 1995 state Supreme Court decision.

Between the lines: "We will need to assist people in ways that we currently rarely have to do, for example, with travel or with childcare or with other kinds of logistical help," PPNCS CEO Sarah Stoesz said.

What they're saying: Robyn Marty, director of operations at West Alabama's Women's Center, said the clinic's lone provider could need to find new work.

  • "How do I keep her when the thing that matters to her, the thing that she's been training for, is now something that could land her in jail?" Marty said.
  • Kentucky's two remaining abortion clinics briefly stopped providing abortions last month, after the state passed new restrictions. "That brief period of time ... was a very realistic window into what things would be like without Roe v. Wade," said Hanna Peterson, an abortion provider in the state.
  • She said she doesn't plan to relocate. "There's always more work to be done. But, you know, now that the threat is more imminent, I don't know that moving elsewhere would solve anything," she said.

How it works: 13 states have passed "trigger" laws that would immediately outlaw abortion if and when the federal right to the procedure is overturned, as a draft opinion leaked this week would do. Providers who try to keep operating in those states could face criminal penalties. And more states will likely pass additional restrictions once the court rules.

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