They call him desperate, scared and often broken. Some are victims of rape and domestic violence. There are other new mothers who are still breastfeeding their babies. Another pregnancy so early, they say, is something they can’t handle.
“Heartbreaking,” said Angela Huntington, an abortion navigator for Planned Parenthood in Missouri who is helping callers reschedule canceled abortion appointments — sometimes hundreds of miles from their homes — to cry. V. After the fall of Wade.
The ruling has triggered a travel scramble across the country, with a growing number of states mostly banning the process. Clinic operators are on the move, doctors are counseling crying patients, donations are being made to nonprofits and a group is sending vans to deliver abortion pills. Some cities — including Kansas City and St. Louis — are drafting plans to help with travel logistics.
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Huntington has been preparing for this moment for months. Before the US Supreme Court’s decision last week to end constitutional protection for abortion, the procedure became nearly impossible to obtain in states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
“Basically,” she said, they were “living in a post cry era.”
Now a new round of laws is taking effect. Staff at a clinic in Nashville was flooded with calls from patients trying to understand the new legal landscape, after a federal court on Tuesday allowed the state’s ban on abortion to take effect at six weeks of pregnancy.
In Arkansas, some patients were already going to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Little Rock to get drug-induced abortions when the decision came last week. On arrival they were sent home.
“I can’t believe this is happening today,” he told Huntington. Or alternatively, they mumbled, their voices brimming with sarcasm: “Of course it’s happening today.”
Huntington and others try to help move their appointments to clinics in Kansas, Illinois, and even Colorado. If a patient is broke but has a reliable car, Huntington may offer a gas card. She works with nonprofits to arrange commercial flights and accommodations. In recent weeks, she said, a group called Elevated Access has enlisted voluntary light aircraft pilots to take patients to abortion appointments, sometimes departing from small rural airstrips.
“It’s been hell,” said Dr. Jean Corwin, a gynecologist who works at a clinic in Dayton, Ohio, after new state rules to ban abortions when a heartbeat was detected went into effect. Most of the patients are being turned away.” Many are being sent across the border to Indiana and the clinic’s sister site in Indianapolis, where Corwin also works.
She said they are desperate, including a patient in her 30s who was recently diagnosed with advanced melanoma and in her first trimester.
“She has to end her pregnancy,” so she can start chemotherapy, and is going to Indiana, Corwin said, adding that patients who go beyond Indiana’s 14-week cutoff are being sent to Illinois or Michigan.
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Time may also be looming for women visiting Indiana as lawmakers there are expected to reconsider the state’s abortion laws in a special session beginning July 6.
Lupe Rodriguez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, said the situation is particularly difficult for immigrants, some of whom lack the documentation to take commercial flights.
“They haven’t been able to go anywhere to get this care,” he said, adding that the ruling has also created widespread confusion, with pregnant women fearing they could face criminal prosecution. “There’s a lot of misinformation.”
In Missouri, where abortions were already severely restricted, a new ban took effect Friday that allows the procedure only in “cases of medical emergencies.” Kansas City leaders are weighing in on a $300 stipend to help employees travel for abortions. And across the state, in St. Louis, elected officials are considering another measure that would use $1 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for transportation, housing and other logistical support for abortion-seekers.
“It’s like an American nightmare that we’re scrambling to find this kind of health care,” said St. Louis Elderwoman Anne Rice, who said she anticipates the measure will be passed by mid-July. If it does, abortion opponents have vowed to ask the state attorney general to sue.
Just the Pill, a non-profit health organization that helps patients obtain abortion pills, is hitting the road. It has purchased two vans — a medicine van and another where surgical abortions will be performed — with plans to begin operating those vans in Colorado from mid-July to late July. The idea is to be close to the borders of states that have banned or outlawed abortion.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, nicknamed the Pink House because of its bright pink work, could lose its lawsuit if it tried to block a state law that made most abortions illegal by July 7. makes.
“We’re not giving up,” said clinic owner Diane Derzis, who plans to open a new abortion clinic called Pink House West early next month in Las Cruces, New Mexico. “Women have always had abortions, no matter what.”
Following the ruling, donations are being made to abortion funds such as South Dakota Access for Every Woman. Usually the group receives seven to 10 donations per month. Now she’s getting 10 to 20 a day, said group co-founder Evelyn Griese. The money goes directly to the abortion providers.
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“If the woman says she is using her own personal money to pay for the abortion, we say use that money to cover her travel expenses,” Griese said.
Some states are laying out welcome mats. Connecticut’s governor has a new campaign ad that violates state laws protecting women’s abortion rights. These include law that takes effect as soon as possible that protects medical providers and patients from out-of-state legal action.
“Women have the right to make their own decisions about their health care,” Democrat Governor Ned Lamont, running for re-election in November, said in a 30-second ad released over the weekend.
In Pennsylvania, where state law still allows abortions in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, the call volume at the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in Pittsburgh has increased tenfold and the number of patients has tripled.
“Patients are desperate and scared,” said Dr. Sheela Ramgopal, the clinic’s CEO, adding that it is putting money into travel costs to help out-of-state patients — most of whom come from Ohio — travel. incur expenses.
Pennsylvania abortion seekers may also be forced to travel, said Susan Frietsche, a staff attorney with the Women’s Law Project, which represents abortion clinics in the state.
“Not because the law has changed here, but you won’t be able to find an appointment anytime soon,” she said. “This is such a time-sensitive service.”
Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Missouri and Tanner from Chicago. Emily Wagster Pettus contributed from Jackson, Mississippi, Colleen Slevin from Denver and Mark Levy from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.