Jan 23, 2024 - News

Washington's abortion snapshot on Roe v. Wade anniversary

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Planned Parenthood in Washington is paying to fly nurse practitioners into the state to meet staffing needs and accommodate providers who no longer feel safe practicing in their state.

Driving the news: Recent data from Planned Parenthood clinics in Central and Eastern Washington, the Washington State Department of Health and the Northwest Abortion Access Fund shows the impact of out-of-state patients on Washington clinics, according to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's office.

  • The reverberations of the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade have been profound at Eastern and Central Washington clinics, per the data.

What they're saying: Abortion providers in Washington face "unique threats and harassment given our close proximity to Idaho, which has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country," said Karl Eastlund, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho.

By the numbers: The number of abortion patients from out of state rose 36% from January–May 2022 to January–May 2023, according to Planned Parenthood data.

  • The number of abortion patients from Idaho was up 56% from January–May 2022 to January–May 2023, per the data.
  • Planned Parenthood's Kennewick clinic, which saw two abortion patients from Idaho in January–May 2022, reported 91 in January–May 2023.

The big picture: The numbers show a persistent and growing strain on our state's reproductive health care system, Cantwell said.

What they're saying: "We are seeing an increase in patients from many states both within our region and from around the country traveling to clinics in Washington, sometimes with little knowledge and money, as their doctors are too legally afraid to even counsel them," said Sarah W. Prager, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UW's School of Public Health, in a statement.

  • Even patients with non-viable pregnancies are leaving their home states because medical providers are too afraid of prosecution to practice evidence-based medicine, Prager said.

The bottom line: Abortion remains legal in Washington, and legislators have enacted laws post-Dobbs to try to stop other states' restrictive abortion policies from crossing state lines.

What we're watching: How abortion access unfolds in West Coast states.

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