‘Desert’ Abortion: Where Would Women Go in the West if Roe v. Wade Falls?

Organizations that provide or advocate for women’s reproductive health care have been planning for years for the possibility that Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, could be overturned.

After a draft majority opinion was leaked indicating that the Supreme Court had voted privately to strike Roe v. Wade, these efforts began to be exaggerated as abortion providers, advocacy organizations, and some state legislatures and governors assist women from other states with release laws that would prohibit or severely restrict abortion.

But even with this support, women seeking care in states that have no or no abortion restrictions have already experienced increased waiting times as more women travel from other countries to seek care.

For example, Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado received 44 patients from Texas between September 2020 and March 2021. During the same period a year later, after the Texas Heartbeat Act was passed, they saw 506 patients from Texas, according to a report by FiveThirtyEight.com, which specializes in Analyzing opinion polls, politics, economics and sports blogs.

Even before the draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked, “Women had to have enough to work within the system to achieve abortion,” said Carrie Galloway, executive director and president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.

Under current law, patients in Utah must receive state-guided counseling that includes information designed to discourage them from having an abortion and then wait 72 hours before offering the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading self-described research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual health and rights. and reproductive health all over the world.

There are also restrictions on health plans, insurance coverage, or public funding for abortion. In Utah, the parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion can be offered.

In Utah, the case of Roe v. Wade was releasing SB174, which was passed by the Utah legislature in 2020. The legislation, sponsored by the senator. Dan Mackay, R-Riverton, prohibits elective abortion but allows procedures in cases of rape or incest, risks to the mother’s life and certain fetal defects.

Traveling for an Abortion

If Roe is overturned, women seeking an elective abortion would have to travel out of state for care, but much depends on their own resources and personal circumstances.

Even with financial assistance for travel, accommodation, and meals, some women cannot leave their families, jobs, or other responsibilities to seek care elsewhere. People who are disabled or who are not authorized to be in the United States face additional challenges.

“What we’ve learned in Texas is that a lot of people haven’t left the county they were born in, so the thought of leaving their state for basic health care isn’t just a possibility. It’s just, it’s not within the realm of thought. That’s where the fact of being able to help comes into play. people, so it’s just a very open case,” Galloway said.

When asked if the prospect of women having to obtain abortion services in other states makes him stop, MacKay replied, “As the son of a single mother, it gives me pause because the single mother will feel trapped and her only option is to have an abortion.”

Mackay said pregnant women have far more government social services and health care services available to themselves and their children in 2022 than in the era of the Roe Resolution of 1973 or even of the Casey Resolution of 1992.

“I hope that with the changes that we’ve seen in the country and then locally, with the expansion of Medicaid and Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), all the programs that didn’t exist when Roe and Casey existed, and if we add to the community programs and community support that we see in every Place, I think there is a lot of support for women with unexpected pregnancies.”

As for the resulting set of abortion laws, the Supreme Court should overturn the Roe v. Wade, “I would just say the country really does have a patchwork of laws…and the country appears to be doing well. I don’t think there is a patchwork of laws on this issue — that more accurately reflects local sentiments toward politics — no I think that’s absolutely a bad thing.”

Island in the desert abortion

Even with an enhanced safety net for services, some women will seek an elective abortion. For Utah women, the nearest abortion clinic is located along a major road, I-70, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, approximately 369 miles from Salt Lake City.

In recent years, relatively few women from Utah have sought care from abortion clinics in Colorado. In 2021, 56 women from Utah had abortions in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. This was a slight increase from 49, the year before, but the numbers of Utah seeking abortions in neighboring Colorado were much lower than Wyoming and New Mexico, both of which are less populous.

But should that change happen, Utah women would be among the increasing numbers of women living outside of Colorado who could come to the state for reproductive health care.

Of 11,580 abortions in Colorado in 2021, its highest level in 12 years, 13.5% were among women from outside the state. The number of non-resident cases increased from 1,283 in 2020 to 1,560 in 2021.

If Ru flips over, the result will be a jumble of laws. Overturning the case of Roe v. Wade will not prohibit abortion but states can individually determine the legality of the procedure.

In the Rocky Mountain states, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho all have absolute laws, while Colorado remains one of the few states that does not have restrictions on when an abortion occurs and does not require a waiting period after a required abortion consultation.

If Roe was flipped, Colorado would become “an island in the middle of an abort desert,” Kristina Tucci, vice president and medical director for Planned Parenthood in the Rockies, told the Denver Gazette.

The Utah-Nevada State Line is photographed in West West Wendover, Nevada, on September 9. 21, 2012.

Kristen Murphy, Deseret News

The Gazette reports that Planned Parenthood in the Rockies — which includes Colorado, New Mexico and southern Nevada — has been ramping up capacity over three years, and the leaked draft will spur swift action in the coming weeks and months.

Galloway stressed that the leaked Supreme Court opinion is a draft and that abortion is still legal in the United States.

“Planned Parenthood will never end. Our basic premise is to help people plan for their families, whether to achieve or delay pregnancy, to make the strongest family possible, and we will never give up on that mission.”

She added, “We promise the people of Utah that we will do everything in our power, as we have done for the past 50 years, to act within the letter and spirit of the law, but without giving up on our mission. We will make sure that we work with anyone who reaches us to make sure they can get the services they need.” they need it.”

McKay said that the leakage of the draft majority opinion led to rumors, gossip and speculation.

“We don’t really know if Roe will be overturned yet,” he said.

“As a result, I’m not currently working on anything and I don’t see anyone else until after we get a final opinion from the Supreme Court and know the direction, you know, that state law is allowed to take,” said Mackay, an attorney.

One possibility is that the court might rule on the constitutionality of the Mississippi law and leave “the rest of us alone,” he said. Enacted in 2018, Mississippi’s gestational age law prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except for medical emergencies or severe fetal malformations.

Leaking the draft opinion “actually may reduce the likelihood that this will be the final opinion, but this is complete speculation,” Mackay said.

Other countries’ response

As some states prepare to enact stimulus laws, the Supreme Court should overturn the Roe v. Wade, leaders of other states codify protections into state laws or propose amendments to their state constitutions.

Three Republican governors in New England recently pledged to protect abortion rights in their states, according to the New York Times.

“It would be a huge setback for women in states that don’t have responsible laws protecting access to abortion and reproductive health services,” the Massachusetts governor said. Charlie Baker.

California voters are expected to vote on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would allow the right to abortion as soon as possible, according to the New York Times.

Some states are considering using state funds to help residents and non-residents obtain abortion care regardless of the final decision of the Supreme Court. Oregon lawmakers created a $15 million Reproductive Health Equity Fund this spring to provide grants to local organizations to help pay for the procedure, and California is considering similar legislation, Politico reports.

Meanwhile, Utah Governor. Spencer Cox and LT. Government. Deidre Henderson, both Republicans, said in a statement: “While we are encouraged and optimistic that abortion law can be left to duly elected state representatives, draft rulings are not actual rulings and leaked drafts constitute a serious violation of abortion law. Court protocol and deliberations. Utah has already passed a law, SB174, which will rule if the Supreme Court decides to drop Roe. We are eagerly awaiting the actual court ruling in this case.”

Focus on family planning

Galloway, who has worked for Planned Parenthood in Utah since 1981 and has been its director since 1987, said the association plans to “double up” its family planning efforts.

After three years of no federal funding for Title X, which supports clinics that provide family planning services to low-income people, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is back in the federal grant program.

Planned Parenthood in Utah exited the program in 2019 due to a “gag rule” implemented during the Trump administration that prohibited recipients from referring patients for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or a medical emergency.

“We just got the Title X money back to be the supervisors for that in Utah,” Galloway said. “We’ve had nearly three years without federal funding to support birth control here in Utah, and we haven’t gone away.”

Galloway said Utah’s family planning system “will remain open at all of our health centers statewide, providing family planning services.”

“We’ll be bigger and prouder going forward,” she said. “So we are not going away. No, we are here to stay. We are here to help people. People can count on us.”

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