When Planned Parenthood decided four years ago to open a new clinic in a medically underserved working-class neighborhood, he envisioned a place that would save women living nearby from having to take hours of bus rides to get a check-up. births, tests or abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade – four days before the clinic opened – changed all that. Because Kansas is one of the few states in the region where abortion remains legal, the clinic soon found itself inundated with calls not only from panicked patients from Kansas and neighboring Missouri, but also from Arkansas. , Oklahoma, Texas – even as far away as Louisiana. .
This clinic and other Planned Parenthood centers in Kansas have done their best to help by extending hours, hiring staff and flying in doctors. Yet they were only able to catch about 10-15% of patients seeking abortion.
“The ecosystem isn’t even fragile. It’s broken,” said Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “I think there’s a perception that if you seek care, you can find it somewhere. And that’s not true.”
Haley Ruark, of Platte City, Missouri, was able to get an appointment on a recent Wednesday after waiting two weeks – longer than she wanted but better than driving hundreds of miles west to the Colorado.
Ruark had panicked after a series of birth control incidents. First a condom broke and then, despite using the morning after pill, a pregnancy test came back positive. Missouri prohibits abortion in all cases except medical emergencies.
“It was just silly that a law was put in place that you can’t do what you think is necessary for your body and not even for your body, but also for your sanity,” Ruark said.
She already juggles 12-hour shifts as a patient care technician at a hospital and cares for her 2- and 6-year-old children.
“Both kids, like they’re good, you know, endings are fulfilled,” she said. “Bringing a baby in there, I just don’t think would be a good idea right now.”
Ruark walked past shouting protesters to enter the new clinic. It took her almost two hours to get the abortion pill after meeting Dr Elizabeth Brett Daily. By law, Daily only needed to wait 30 minutes after Ruark arrived to dispense the drugs, but the clinic was busy.
Roe v. Wade has been canceled, so what happens now? The doors to thousands of abortion clinics are now closed, but the impacts of this landmark ruling go far beyond access to abortion services. LX News visual storyteller Jalyn Henderson breaks down the legal, social, and economics we can say as we continue to live in a post-Roe America.
Thousands of patients are likely not getting appointments at all, according to a national tracking effort called #WeCount, which is run by the Society of Family Planning, a nonprofit that promotes abortion research. and birth control.
The society’s report, released in October, found that 6% fewer abortions were performed nationwide in August – when many of the most restrictive abortion bans came into effect – compared to the number of abortions administered nationwide in April, before Roe was canceled.
Some of the banned states saw the number of abortions fall from 2,770 in April to less than 10 in August, while bordering states that still allow the procedure saw their number of abortions increase, according to the survey. In Kansas, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and North Carolina, the number of abortions administered in August was at least 30% higher than the number administered in April. In Illinois, 28% more abortions were performed in August than in April.
The study had some limitations, including the fact that only 79% of all identified abortion providers — including clinics, private medical practices and hospitals — provided data. The company says the figures represent around 82% of all abortions performed nationwide.
Few outside of Kansas expected the state to take on this bigger role on abortion, said Elizabeth Nash, senior policy associate for state issues for the Guttmacher Institute, a research group who supports abortion rights.
“It’s a pretty conservative place. You know, it’s not like Colorado or Illinois where people think it’s definitely going to be hotspots,” Nash said.
Abortion opponents have been influential in Kansas politics since the 1991 Summer of Mercy protests in Wichita, when thousands of anti-abortion activists gathered in Wichita, sparking protests that led to nearly 2 700 arrests.
Image may be changing. Voters continue to elect large anti-abortion majorities in the Legislative Assembly, but in August they overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for tighter restrictions or a ban on abortion.
The demand for abortion in Kansas promises only to grow. While the procedure remains legal in neighboring Iowa and Nebraska, both are conservative and Nash described the states as “pending bans.”
Staff routinely turn away patients who request appointments at the new clinic and the two other abortion clinics that Planned Parenthood operates in Kansas, telling them they don’t maintain a waiting list and if they can get an appointment in Colorado or New Mexico to take this.
But there are no guarantees in those two states either, said Dr. Kristina Tocce, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
“I guess for every patient that can get to us that we can see, there are many patients that can’t access care,” Tocce said, adding that the number of out-of-state patients has spiked in arrow.
Getting an appointment in Kansas City is a stroke of luck. Local patients are not prioritized, but have an advantage as it is easier for them to get to consultations mid-week. Planned Parenthood executives said adding a fourth clinic was among options being considered to increase access, but did not release details.
Daily, of the new clinic in Kansas, said she was drawn to the job after a stint with the Peace Corps in the West African nation of Togo. She has seen victims of sexual assault and “many, many” women and their babies die in childbirth.
The doctor sees horrible stories here too. A recently aborted patient was 13 years old, her face so bruised from the assault she suffered that she could barely open an eye in the waiting room.
Daily these days compares getting an appointment for an abortion to winning the lottery.
“Think about our current health care system and how difficult it is to get a primary care visit,” she said.
Among the patients Daily saw recently was a 29-year-old mother of two who asked that her name not be used because she did not want her family and acquaintances to know. The woman said she originally planned to carry her pregnancy to term. But then her 3-year-old daughter had a terrifying 40-minute seizure, which temporarily paralyzed her. It was his 13th major crisis in the past year.
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will essentially cause a “legal civil war” between states as each creates its own set of abortion laws with different criminality standards, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Bernarda Villalona tells LX News. .
Doctors intubated the little girl and the woman rushed to ensure that her 9-month-old son was with his father. The couple had separated, so she sat alone at her daughter’s bedside.
“I was like, ‘It’s not fair, you know, that I can’t give another kid my full attention.’
She knows that some people will not understand her decision.
“People are just quick to judge,” she said. “A lot of people have religious beliefs. ‘Oh, no. You can’t do that.’ But for me, I don’t think people take the time to get to know someone and realize their real situation.”