It’s time for us to get ready for the end of Roe v. Wade as we know it. [Opinion]
I have had the honor of serving as the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest for over 16 years, and I’m prouder than ever of the important work we do every day. Throughout my time here, we’ve faced many challenges and attacks, but there has been nothing like the current threats to abortion access that we are currently witnessing. With the impending Supreme Court decision expected to come any day now, it’s more important than ever that we prepare to expand access to abortion care. It’s time for us to get ready for the end of Roe v. Wade as we know it.
The recent opinion leak confirmed our worst fears – the Supreme Court of the United States is preparing to end the constitutional right to abortion and reverse nearly 50 years of precedent. Without the Supreme Court’s protection, states across the country will quickly move to ban abortion. We’ve already seen lawmakers pass dangerous abortion bans in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Florida, and Kentucky, and we anticipate that over half of all states across the country will severely restrict or ban abortion entirely once Roe v. Wade is overturned. Make no mistake, the impact will be immediate and devastating. Right now, 13 states already have “trigger laws” on the books, meaning that abortion bans in these states could immediately take effect after this ruling. Far too many will be left without access to safe, legal abortion.
The impact will be swift, widespread, and disproportionate. People of color, immigrants, people living with low incomes, and those who live in rural areas will experience the worst outcomes, precisely those that historically already face barriers to abortion access and health care. These barriers have always existed — lack of insurance, the costs of childcare, taking time off work, transportation and lodging — but when Roe is overturned, the challenges will be exacerbated, and the number of people trying to overcome them will skyrocket.
In California, abortion access is legal and will continue to be protected even when Roe falls. Recently, the Guttmacher Institute issued a report showing a nearly 3,000% increase in out-of-state women of reproductive age who would now find their nearest clinic for abortion services located in California. Abortion providers in California have been preparing to meet this moment so that no patient will be turned away from getting the care they need. Our affiliate is creating more access in our health centers, and through the Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest Abortion Access Fund and other support programs, we’re providing financial and practical support, like travel and housing, for patients who need it.
We’re already seeing an increase in out-of-state patients at many of our health centers, including those in Coachella and Rancho Mirage, and we anticipate that this will continue to trend upward. Due to their location, our health centers in Riverside have already been serving out of state patients, and we’re proud of that work. As an affiliate located in a reproductive freedom state, it is our duty to serve as a safe haven for all who need access to safe and legal abortion care. We’re also working to expand access to our services so that all our patients, including Californians and those in the Coachella Valley, can continue to access timely and uninterrupted care.
The freedom and power to decide if and when to start a family is a basic human right, and people should be able to access the care they need without barriers or interference. Put simply, abortion is health care, and forcing anyone who doesn’t wish to become a parent to carry a pregnancy against their will is an outrage. We share in our supporters sadness, anger, and fears about what this will mean — not only for our patients and communities, but for future generations to come. But we’re not backing down.
No matter what transpires over the course of the next few weeks and months, Planned Parenthood will always be here to do what we do best – provide compassionate and high-quality health care to all who need us, regardless of their income, their zip code, or any attempts to stop people from making decisions about their health and their lives. We’re here for good, and we’re not going anywhere.
- U.S. Supreme Court Building: Pixaby