Abortion clinics nationwide face backlogs as bans force people to travel out of state for treatment

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The problem is not limited to financial costs and risks, but also to the lack of resources. Subsequent procedures are also more difficult to obtain because “as the pregnancy progresses, the number of people qualified to provide this care decreases further,” Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said Axios.

According to Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, approximately 93% of reported abortions in 2019 were performed at or before 13 weeks gestation, 6% were performed between 14 and 20 weeks, and 1% were performed at or after 21 weeks. As clinics continue to struggle with higher demand, experts believe those abortions performed after the 13th week of pregnancy are likely to increase.

According to Spectrum News, states like New Mexico, where abortion is still legal, have seen an increase linked to people coming from Texas for care. After the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, the number of out-of-state women seeking care at the University of New Mexico Center for Reproductive Health increased. About 80% of the center’s patients now come from out-of-state, compared to 20% of out-of-state patients the center saw before the law was passed.

“We have already reached our capacity,” said Dr. Amber Truehart, medical director of the Center for Reproductive Health at the University of New Mexico. we’ll have to look even further.”

But the clinics near Texas aren’t the only ones. Nationally, many facilities are receiving an average of about 500 calls a day, on top of the backlog of patients they are already trying to care for.

A clinic in Illinois told Axios that patients from states other than Missouri and Illinois accounted for 40% of their cases, up from 5% before the federal abortion law was overturned.

Other clinics expressed similar increases in out-of-state patients.

“You know, we can’t answer that many calls, obviously, and that’s a lot more appointments than we actually have,” said Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, director of communications for the Women’s Trust. Foundation, which runs clinics for reproductive health care. in Wichita, Kansas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “We really feel this presence of these people who we can’t talk to, who can’t get appointments in our clinic.”

Trust Women Clinic said NPR that the number of abortions performed increased from 800 in the first six months of 2021 to more than 1,300 during the same period in 2022.

According to Axios, the average wait time for an out-of-state abortion appointment has dropped from two to three days to two to three weeks. Due to the ban on abortion, the closure of clinics in several states. Individuals are not only forced to wait for appointments due to limited resources and space, but they bear the risk associated with travel.

Doctors and abortion rights advocates told Spectrum News that the trips had an “emotional impact” on patients in their communities and “uprooted” women’s lives.

“At the very beginning of my meetings with them, I just try to reassure them that I am not judging them. Right? (It’s) not things I believe in. How sorry I am that they had to go through so much trauma just to get basic medical care,” Truehart told Spectrum News.

According to Guttmacher Institutea reproductive health research group, more than 20 states are “certain or probable” to prohibit or limit abortion because of the reversal of Roe vs. Wadewhile 16 states have laws that protect the right to abortion. This link shows how far patients in each state must drive to access reproductive care.

Related read: End of the Roe era: clinics forced to cross state lines, rape victims denied abortion

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