Health

Blue countries want to become safe havens for abortions. It will cost them.

Groups that run clinics and manage affordable abortion funds warn that they will need more money, more providers and more space to help the flow of people crossing state lines to seek abortions. This means that states hoping for access must act quickly to expand provider networks and provide the necessary financial support.

Abortion rights advocates whose organizations have spent months or years waiting for capacity building and fundraising. RoeHis demise is still struggling to determine exactly how much money and resources They will need it given the unprecedented nature of the situation. But they know it: they are already stretched and in some places unable to meet their needs. And adding more clients from states that ban abortion will exacerbate existing problems.

Texas’s move last year to end abortions Six weeks into the pregnancy has already shown what it could mean to restrict access to providers in other states. Now, if Roe Revoked by the Supreme Court – as a Draft majority conclusion obtained by POLITICO Would do – about two dozen states could restrict or ban the procedure. This will create an abortion desert in the heart of the whole country that can send thousands, if not millions, of people to reproductive health away from home.

“We have seen a huge need in Texas … and we are not meeting the demand,” said Melissa Fowler, chief officer of the National Abortion Federation Program, which manages the largest patient care fund in the country. Interview. “If many more states restrict abortion, we will have to help more people move along state lines. This can be a huge burden. ”

And little help is expected from the federal government, If any, Abortion rights Advocates and experts say it is up to the blue countries to maintain access to and access to the procedures in the face of the onslaught of red state restrictions.

“Progressive states need to strengthen, secure funding, and support clinic infrastructure in their own states,” said Elizabeth Nash, Acting Associate Director of Public Affairs at the Gutmacher Institute. “Because these clinics are already feeling the impact of Texas and they are also experiencing the impact of abortion laws in other states.”

“We need funding”

There are at least 23 states Likely prohibits or severely restricts access Abortions are a must Roe Cancel, including pre– Roe Still bans books or so-called. If all of this happens, it would jeopardize access to abortion for the approximately 36 million women of reproductive age, according to the Gutmacher Institute.

And medical migration has already begun. Planned Parental Health Centers in bordering Texas have seen an nearly 800 percent increase in abortion patients since September, when the state banned the six-week abortion from the end of December 2021, compared to the previous year. More than 500 patients a month sought out-of-state care at California Planned Parenthood Health Centers during that period.

If Roe Abolished, Illinois Planned Parenthood, surrounded by states restricting access to the procedure, expects abortions to triple at its clinics, ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 a year to 30,000 a year.

“We’ve really seen an increase in the number of patients outside the state – from Texas, and now from Oklahoma and Florida,” Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Illinois, said in an interview. “Before Texas, we saw about 4 to 6 percent of abortion patients out of state. And now it’s about 8 percent of our abortion patients out of state. We train 20,000 to 30,000 out-of-state abortions each year.

Providers and activists who have spent years lobbying lawmakers to strengthen protection are now expanding their demand.

They want state legislatures to raise more money to fund the travel of people seeking abortion, strengthen overcrowded clinics, and build infrastructure such as telecommunications. They want states to require health insurance plans to cover the procedure.

And they want to increase the number of providers within their borders by expanding the types of medical professionals who can perform the procedure.

“We need to be as strong and creative as our opponents of abortion were about these abortion restrictions last year,” said Fowler, a spokeswoman for the National Abortion Federation. “It was wonderful to have a safe haven, it was wonderful to be in favor of positive choices and to support people’s access to reproductive health, but we need funding and other things that come with it.”

Legislators in California, where Planned Parenthood has more than 100 clinics, have introduced more than a dozen bills to expand access to abortion, including proposals that Better Foundation ClinicsCreate $ 20 million State Administered Fund Assist patients with travel and other expenses and Allow some nurses to have an abortion Without a doctor’s supervision.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has long pledged to make California an “abortionist” for abortionists, has already signed into law a package that Prohibits health insurers from charging co-payments Or other costs of the procedure. And Another sizeTo protect Californians from being prosecuted under anti-abortion laws outside the state, it will take effect as soon as it is signed by the governor.

Last week, Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont Signed legislation Which will protect providers and patients traveling from countries where the procedure is illegal and expand the list of practitioners eligible for abortions to include registered nurses, midwives and physician assistants.

Hochul is now in New York Promised $ 35 million in assistance – $ 25 million abortion service provider fund and $ 10 million in safety grants for reproductive health centers – as an emergency measure funded by the State Department of Health.

“Do not interfere in the state of New York,” Hochul said at a virtual briefing on Tuesday, promising that the “nation leader” would be the answer. “We are ready.”

But in some blue states political barriers and legislative obstacles remain. Oregon legislators who created a $ 15 million Reproductive Health Equity Fund In response to a six-week abortion ban in Idaho in February You have not seen the cash flow yet. Maryland’s Democratic Legislature has stepped aside $ 3.5 million for a clinical training programBut Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has it now Decided to stop funding.

Massachusetts has the top Democrats in the legislature Offered $ 500,000 A $ 2 million grant to three local abortion funds as part of a budget that is unlikely to become law by July. And a bill that could Make abortion funding more permanent In New York – Senate legislation that would establish an abortion access fund and allow residents to contribute to it through their state income tax returns – sat on the committee for months.

“They are excellent initiatives. But that’s not necessary near the size of the funding, which amounts to several hundred million dollars, said Lisa David, president and CEO of Public Health Solutions, which provides reproductive and other medical care to low-income families in New York. City, in an interview.

“I’m not sure this is enough to solve the problem that is going to happen and it can happen quite quickly,” he added.

“Not just a gas card or a plane ticket”

Abortion costs an average of $ 550, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and it happens until you take into account the costs associated with them, such as travel and child care, which can skyrocket if patients need to cross multiple state lines to get help. These costs can quickly become prohibitive, lawyers warn, especially for people of color or low-income individuals.

In Illinois, philanthropic organizations are involved to pay for transportation, accommodation, and child care fees for outpatients, while the city of Chicago is allocating $ 500,000 to help with these costs. In New York, Attorney General Tish James recently announced legislation to better fund providers and facilitate low-income residents and those traveling from other states.

Donations are also increasing to nonprofit abortion funds. But Fowler said the National Abortion Federation is already spending about $ 30,000 a month on people just trying to leave Texas for care and struggling to keep up with demand.

“It’s not just a gas station card or a plane ticket – it’s a hotel stay, it’s a gift card for food, it helps them find childcare so they can even travel abroad,” Fowler said.

Telemedicine and abortion pills can help alleviate this burden. Medical abortions already account for more than half of all abortions in the country. And the Food and Drug Administration has lifted the requirement that medicines be issued in person during a pandemic. Now telemedicine, which has exploded amid a pandemic, is ready to go The next limit of abortion care.

“You can imagine this really opens up the possibility for patients living in a red state across the country,” Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts, said in an interview.

But it also has its limits. Medical abortions are a viable option only in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Several states have already banned or restricted abortions through telemedicine, and more may follow Roe Canceled, which raises legal questions for both patients and providers.

When red states criminalize abortions, st In some places it makes him a criminal To ensure the procedure, the Blue States respond to providers and patients by extending legal protection. New York lawmakers proposed a Replica Bill Connecticut New Shield Law. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has voiced support for such an event in Massachusetts.

Advocates say the legal protection of providers and patients seeking abortion is important, but it is not at the top of the need list. Roe Autumn.

“Where we need to focus on patients and patients need access to services. “It really means that it’s important for progressive states to think about what kind of funding they can spend on that,” said Nash, of the Gutmacher Institute. “Attempts to protect providers are also important, but now we need to focus on patient access.”

Amanda Eisenberg and Shannon Young contributed to this report.

Blue countries want to become safe havens for abortions. It will cost them.

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