Abortion providers in Illinois, Colorado, and Florida prepare for an influx of patients if Roy is overturned

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Illinois – The future of abortion access is beginning to take shape in places like this southern Illinois city, which is set to become a destination for women from neighboring states preparing to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade flipped.

Preparing for an influx of patients, Kawanna Shannon, director of patient access at Planned Parenthood’s regional logistics center in southern Illinois, said she and her colleagues are trying to hire 15 more employees and stay open seven days a week, compared to six currently.

A draft decision leaked last month indicated that the US Supreme Court could end the constitutional right to abortion in a decision expected in the next few weeks.

If that happens, 13 states are preparing to implement so-called agitation laws to ban abortion quickly or, in most cases, immediately. They include Missouri and Kentucky, both of which have one abortion clinic and currently have more restrictive abortion laws than neighboring Illinois.

“We really are an oasis in a vast abortion desert,” said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, referring to neighboring states that already have strict abortion restrictions. “The pending decision… does not change that, it only increases the size of the desert.”

Other states that could become more popular destinations for abortions in a post-Rowe world include Colorado and Florida, two border states with more restrictive regulations.

If Roe v. Wade flipped, and 26 states are expected to ban or restrict access to abortion, creating “abortion islands” in states where access is protected. Here’s how health care providers in Illinois are preparing for the expected influx of out-of-state patients. Image caption: Laura Kamerman

Anti-abortion activists said they are focusing more of their resources in those places as well, recruiting volunteers, increasing fundraising and building pickups they can park outside clinics with services aimed at persuading women to stay pregnant.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois said it expects an additional 20,000 to 30,000 patients a year to enter the state in search of abortions if Roe’s decision, the 1973 decision on the right to abortion, is overturned. Planned Parenthood in the Rockies, which operates clinics in Colorado as well as New Mexico and Nevada, plans to receive an additional 10,000 patients seeking abortion annually, up 80% from the current volume.

Colorado is already seeing an increase in abortions, according to the Cobalt Abortion Fund, a Denver-based group that provides financial assistance to people seeking abortions. The organization said 32% of appointments from January to May this year were for out-of-state patients. That’s up from 17% last year.

“We really are an oasis in a vast abortion desert,” says Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Three-quarters of the patients the group helped set up appointments this year came from Texas, which passed a law last year banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. In 2021, 26% of out-of-state patients Cobalt helped with appointments came from Texas.

“What’s new is the number of people, and they need to get care very early in pregnancy,” said Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt.

Others come from nearby states including Wyoming, where the state’s only facility to provide surgical and medical abortions was set ablaze on May 25, weeks before it was due to open, according to Julie Burkhart, the clinic’s president. Casper Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said they are investigating the fire as arson.

Meanwhile, the FBI said Thursday it is investigating a series of attacks and threats across the country against centers trying to persuade women not to terminate pregnancies and offices of anti-abortion groups.

Authorities are investigating a fire at a facility scheduled to provide surgical and medical abortions in Casper, Wyoming, as arson.


Med Grover/Associated Press

Anti-abortion groups are mobilizing alongside abortion providers. Colorado-based Save the Storks is currently adding 30 to a fleet of 75 buses nationwide to provide medical services to pregnant women and are positioned near abortion clinics and campuses, CEO Diane Ferraro said. This is the maximum that was produced in one year.

Amy Gerk, executive director of Illinois Right to Live, said her organization has been visiting community centers and churches across the state to recruit volunteers and expand its lobbying power.

“The pro-life people in Illinois have become very aware that we are going to be ground zero for abortion,” said Ms. Illinois. other than you

Coalition Life, an anti-abortion group operating across the Illinois border in St. Lewis is expanding an internship program that pays people to visit abortion clinics to try and counsel women before they enter.

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Abortion providers in Florida say they are preparing for a possible influx of patients from southern states with more restrictive laws. Planned Parenthood’s Tallahassee Clinic is preparing to expand the days it offers abortions to five from three. The organization’s Jacksonville Clinic added a second doctor to accommodate an increase in out-of-state patients after a six-week ban in Texas that went into effect last year.

A ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which has been challenged in court, is set to go into effect July 1 in Florida. But providers said they were concerned that the state’s Republican leaders might try to impose stricter restrictions or ban abortion entirely if Rowe was canceled, ending Florida’s status as a destination in the region for women seeking termination of pregnancy.

a spokeswoman for mr. Ron DeCiantes said the Republican has “always been pro-life,” but declined to comment on potential legislation, as did incoming Republican leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives, which are expected to meet again in 2023.

Mifepristone and Misoprostol tablets used to induce an abortion are medically seen in Planned Parenthood’s Health Center.

write to Julie Wernau at Julie.Wernau@wsj.com, Dan Frosch at dan.frosch@wsj.com and Jennifer Calfas at Jennifer.Calfas@wsj.com

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