California Plans for a Post-Roe World as Abortion Access Shrinks Elsewhere

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With the right to have an abortion in the balance all over America, California is preparing to become the country’s leading abortion clinic.

Democratic Governor. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders have invited a group composed of experts in reproductive health to come up with policies to improve the state’s abortion facilities and prepare it for more patients. The lawmakers plan to start debating the proposals when they meet again in January.

Clinics for abortion are bracing themselves to meet the escalating demand.

Janet Jacobson, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, said at least three or four patients from out of state come to her clinics on a daily basis nearly more than double the number of patients seeking medical attention prior to the near-total prohibition on abortions was implemented on the state of Texas on September.

Although the nine clinics are able to take in that steady stream of patients however, they anticipate at least 50 patients from outside the state per week in the event that they are allowed to. U.S. Supreme Court’s majority conservative eliminates abortion rights nationwide, Jacobson said. Jacobson bases her estimation on recent data obtained from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for the rights of women to have abortions and reproductive health.

She’s expanding her staff and appointments capacity and hopes to accommodate all.

“We must ensure that we be able to provide care for every one of our California patients,” Jacobson said. “We do not want them to be cut off” from appointments.

The Texas law bans almost all abortions after the six-week mark of gestation. It also permitted citizens to sue private individuals who does or “aids and facilitates” an abortion after this period. It was the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on November. 1st and scheduled to issue a decision on the constitutionality of the law in June. However, Florida and Ohio have made plans to adopt copycat laws.

The high court next month will be hearing another abortion case that has even more consequences, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,a lawsuit that challenges legality and constitutionality of the Mississippi law that prohibits abortions within 15 weeks of. If the court chooses to support Mississippi and decides to do so, it could invalidate abortion rights established by the famous Roe in v. Wade case.

If this happens the reproductive rights experts say that 26 states will stop abortions completely, and states that have stronger safeguards for abortions, like California will attract more patients. It could result in 3000% more patients who “may travel to California to receive abortion services” every year, based on Guttmacher data.

In 2017 which was the latest year in which data are accessible through Guttmacher, California — the country’s most populous state was home to more abortion providers that any other with 419 clinics, hospitals or doctors’ offices carrying out the procedure. The next most popular state was New York, with 252 as well as Florida with 85. The next two states, Arizona Nevada and Arizona Nevada have each 11. Out of the 862,320 abortions that were performed throughout the U.S. that year, around 15%, occurred in California.

Clinics of Planned Parenthood in California claim they serve around 7,000 patients from outside the state each year. They are anticipating the arrival of many new patients particularly in tourist centers such as that of the Los Angeles area.

On September 11, Planned Parenthood and groups like Black Women for Wellness convened the California Future of Abortion Council with the backing of powerful Democratic officials, including Newsom as well as state Senate chairman Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Atkins who was director of the San Diego women’s health clinic in the 1980s, stated that she had a lot of time with women in states where it was difficult to obtain an abortion. She added that California is determined to ensure abortion access throughout the state as well as beyond.

This council will focus on increasing the amount of money available for abortions, offering financial and logistical support for women who have to travel, as well as increasing the number of health professionals who perform abortions , and enhancing legal protections for women who need to undergo abortions.

The expansion of capacity could result in permitting more physicians to perform abortions, or investing more funds into telehealth to allow patients to consult a doctor online and prescribe medication for a medical abortion, an option that California doctors are currently able to offer to patients only in California.

The first thing the state must be doing is improve its supply of healthcare providers, specifically those who provide second-trimester abortions. These are more expensive and difficult than first-trimester abortions. Council member Dr. Daniel Grossman, director of the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program at the University California-San Francisco.

It’s impossible to set up an abortion service all over the country, Grossman said. Instead the council should be focusing on the creation of “hubs which can offer abortion care to large amounts of individuals” at easy-to-access places.

California has been struggling to offer abortions to everyone who wants abortions, particularly women with low incomes that are covered by Medi-Cal, which is California’s Medicaid program. For instance, 28 counties comprise the 10% of MediCal beneficiaries who are pregnant aren’t equipped to provide abortions for Medi-Cal recipients.

Medical abortions that uses pills used to end an unborn baby, costs California patients on average $306 out-of-pocket. This is in accordance with an assessment conducted by the California Health Benefits Review Program however, it’s not available after 10 weeks. After that, the only choice is surgical abortion, which is priced at an average of $887 from the pocket in California.

The council’s suggestions is likely to be an increase in the amount Medi-Cal will pay for abortions, so that more doctors can perform them, said the council’s member Fabiola Carrion the interim director of sexual and reproductive health for the National Health Law Program.

Medi-Cal reimburses $354.43 for an abortion that occurs in the second trimester. A study from 2020 published in the journal Contraception discovered that states paid an average of $79 to $626 per second trimester abortifaction in 2017.

A rise in Medi-Cal premiums won’t benefit patients who travel from outside California. In general, private insurance does not cover abortions out of state, so the majority of women are responsible for the entire price for those who participate within other states’ Medicaid program must cover the cost out of pocket, too.

This council hopes to cut down on the cost for residents of the state and visitors, according to Brandon Richards, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “It’s all about making it simple for people to get an abortions in California whether they reside here or come in from outside the California,” he said.

One method to reduce expenses is to fund practical support, such as providing childcare, transportation hotels, the time off from work, according to the council’s committee member Jessica Pinckney, executive director of Access Reproductive Justice, a fund that assists people in paying for abortions.

Pinckney stated that she’s in talks in conjunction with Los Angeles County to set the fund to pay for some of the costs for anyone who wants to get an abortion within the county. The fund would be modeled on similar pots that are maintained by cities like New York; Austin, Texas as well as Portland, Oregon, and could be used as a model for the first fund that is statewide, Pinckney said.

The majority of Texans looking to have abortions after the state’s law came into effect are heading to states nearby such as Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma according to Sierra Harris, deputy director of strategies for network networks of the National Network of Abortion Funds. The women in these states, on the other hand, are having difficulties getting treatment and are turning for California to make appointments.

The need for support in the practical area is vital for patients from outside the state, said Alissa Perrucci, the operations manager of the Women’s Options Clinic in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital One among five clinics for abortion in California hospitals.

The clinic of Dr. Perrucci is focused on telemedicine, telephone counseling as well as other methods of saving time, so they can also add appointments for patients from outside the state if needed.

However, the more slots will be useless when women aren’t able to travel to California. The clinic has scheduled around 10 , for Texans following the time the state’s ban took effect and only half have been shown typically women who have relatives who reside in California.

“Most people don’t have enough money to fly to this place,” she said. “If it were true that the cost of having an abortion was carried mostly by wealthy people well, they’d take a flight to here.”

The story was first released through Kaiser Health News on November 17th, 2020. Find the original story here.