Abortion providers brace for flood of out-of-state patients


NEW YORK, USA – JUNE 24: Thousands take streets to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022 in New York City, United States. The Court’s decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) ⁠— States that have vowed to continue providing abortion services are preparing for an influx of out-of-state patients seeking care that no longer is considered a constitutional right.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, 230,000 patients from Idaho alone could travel across state lines to procure an abortion.

Illinois, surrounded by states with heavy restrictions or bans, could see an additional 20,000 to 30,000 out-of-state patients seeking abortion as a result of the recent U.S Supreme Court opinion. That’s according to Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO Jennifer Welch, who called on state legislators to “cut red tape” for abortion providers and ensure them greater protections.

“When patients can’t get care in their home states, it delays care and pushes them further into pregnancy,” Welch said at a news conference Friday.

About 20% of abortions performed in Illinois in 2020 were provided to out-of-state patients, according to the most recent data available through the Illinois Department of Public Health. The majority of out-of-state patients came from Missouri.

Minnesota doctors provided more than 800 abortions to non-residents that same year, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. And last year, 13.6% of the 11,580 people who had abortions in Colorado were from out of state, according to NewsNation Colorado affiliate KDVR. That represents a 3% increase from 2019.

In preparation for a wave of out-of-state patients, abortion providers are working to expand access to their physical offices and telehealth services.

The Seattle City Council passed a resolution last month to allocate funds from the 2022 supplemental budget to expand access to reproductive health care. An exact dollar amount has not been given yet but is expected to be discussed in committee in July.

In Illinois, Planned Parenthood has expanded the physical infrastructure of its health centers and telehealth access, Welch said. The organization also added services such as offering abortion pills by mail to Illinois patients and ramped up programs to help people travel from out of state to receive care.

The private health care company Whole Woman’s Health has similarly launched a Wayfinder Navigation Program to help people in the states with restrictive laws connect with services in so-called “haven” states.

Whole Woman’s Health also offers abortion pills by mail to patients in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico and Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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