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Some clinics halt abortions while preparing for Roe’s downfall

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Abortion providers in some places where the procedure could be banned if US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade are preparing for a decision by halting the planning of the procedure, rotating staff to help patients travel to other states, and creating networks of clinics that do so across regions of the country.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which operates three clinics offering abortions in the state, is not scheduling the procedure beyond June 25 as expected a decision in late June that reversed the landmark 1973 decision guaranteeing abortion rights nationwide. The organization has hired two staff members in recent weeks to help patients book appointments and find out how to get to clinics.

However, whether clinics in Wisconsin can perform abortions has become a commonplace question.

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“One of the most difficult parts of this is not knowing what day that decision will be made and what it will look like,” said Michelle Velasquez, director of legal advice and services at Planned Parenthood Wisconsin. “The unknown was difficult.”

It is a window into the plans of abortion providers and access funds in more than a dozen other states in the South and Midwest. In South Dakota, the state’s only abortion clinic, also operated by Planned Parenthood, announced this week that it has “paused” abortion planning beyond the end of the month. In Oklahoma, providers have already discontinued the process after a law was passed to ban it.

Wisconsin has had an abortion ban in law since 1849, but Roe v. Wade overruled it. While Roe’s fall would be likely trigger a lawsuit about whether it is valid, Planned Parenthood does not want to put its employees at risk of prosecution.

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Velasquez said clinic staff want to perform abortions in Wisconsin up to the last minute when it’s legal, but also need to consider that scheduling appointments for dates when it could become illegal could create uncertainty and be “distressing” for patients .

Velasquez acknowledged that the Supreme Court could release its decision as early as next week, even with Planned Parenthood having dates on the books. She said if that happened, Planned Parenthood would help those patients book abortion appointments in nearby states like Minnesota and Illinois. In the meantime, patients in Wisconsin could still get advice, laboratory work and ultrasound.

“We wouldn’t leave patients like, ‘You’re alone,'” Velasquez said.

“Even if we can’t provide the medication or perform a procedure, we are absolutely able to help people find the care they need,” she added.

The strategy will inevitably put more pressure on providers in states in the region where abortion will still be legal, said Caitlyn Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College who studies abortion access.

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“As hundreds of thousands of women pour out of these states, it will put a tremendous strain on the resources of these providers,” she said. “I don’t think they are prepared for this huge influx.”

It comes like US abortion numbers and rates are rising after a long decline. According to figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that campaigns for abortion rights, abortions increased from 2017 to 2020. In 2020, more than 930,000 abortions were counted in the United States.

The closure of clinics, as recently in Idaho, or the interruption of planning show that a post-Roe reality has already materialized in many places. Myers said getting an abortion appointment could soon become “critical” across the country.

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https://www.local10.com/health/2022/06/16/some-clinics-halting-abortions-while-bracing-for-roes-fall/ Some clinics halt abortions while preparing for Roe’s downfall

Sarah Y. Kim

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