Washington prepares for more patients seeking abortion

Supreme Court of the U.S.

While the nation waits for the Supreme Court’s opinion on a blockbuster abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Washington is getting ready for an increase in out-of-state patients seeking an abortion.

“We are already seeing patients from Texas, from Oklahoma. I saw a patient a couple of weeks ago from Alabama,” Dr. Erin Berry, gynecologist and Washington state medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, told KING-TV.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest said it’s working to see which locations in Washington could open up for additional days if needed and upping its patient navigation teams, which help patients with appointments and travel arrangements.

“There’s a lot of unknown,” Berry said. “We also ultimately do not know how many people will be coming in from where and what their needs will be.”

Twenty-six states are likely to have total or near-total bans on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Idaho’s trigger law bans all abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and if the mother’s life is at risk.

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

Berry said it’s expensive for patients to travel across the country to access medical care and fears for funding in the long term.

The looming decision is creating uncertainty for more than just patients. The Washington Medical Commission, which regulates physician license in Washington, said if Roe v. Wade is overturned it could raise practice concerns for Washington licensees.

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