SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Planned Parenthood says it will help Midwestern patients access abortions if state bans take effect

Regional officials from the organization said they expected Minnesota abortion providers would see a 10 to 25 percent increase in demand for abortion services if neighboring states enforced bans on the procedure.

People protest after leak of U.S. Supreme Court draft majority opinion on Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision, in Washington
Police officers stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court as demonstrators protest after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for a majority of the court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision later this year, in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2022.
Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters
We are part of The Trust Project.

ST. PAUL — Regional Planned Parenthood officials on Tuesday, May 3, said they would help patients access abortion services in other states if the procedures were outlawed in North Dakota and South Dakota later this year.

A day after Politico released a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion calling for overturning the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, organization leaders said they expect Minnesota clinics could see a 10 to 25 percent increase in demand for abortion services in Minnesota if the case is returned to the states. An official ruling overturning Roe v. Wade would trigger laws in North Dakota and South Dakota immediately making abortion illegal.

Planned Parenthood physicians would continue to help patients in those states to access abortion services, said Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of North Central States. But clinics in North Dakota and South Dakota would close and doctors would not be able to send medications that induce an abortion to people living in those states.

Sarah Traxler.jpg
Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of North Central States
Contributed

"We have all been planning for this worst-case scenario. Our assumption has been that in some way Roe would be decimated and there would be lack of access to abortion so we've been thinking about our surrounding states and how that might impact the patients who live there," Traxler said. "We are certainly working on ways and funds and support and resources to help people travel from a restrictive environment to one in which they can get services."

The organization has increased its telemedicine offerings and last week rolled out a medication abortion by mail program for Minnesota residents, Traxler said. She said the program could help keep in-clinic abortion options open if patients from other states need to travel to access services.

ADVERTISEMENT

Traxler predicted that demand for abortions could exceed providers' capacity to provide those services early on but she expected providers adjust as needed. Planned Parenthood of North Central States CEO Sarah Stoesz said the group is not considering opening additional locations at this time but would consider the option if demand for services outpaces availability in Minnesota.

Stoesz and Traxler during a virtual news conference said they'd anticipated the court's ruling but felt stung when they read the draft on Monday night.

Minnesota could become an island for abortion access in the Midwest if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

"When I first got to work today and I walked into the health center, I was sad, grieved, enraged. But when I saw our staff today, they're here doing what they always do, providing compassionate, patient-centered, expert care and even in the face of extreme adversity and the swirl around them," Traxler said. "They'll continue doing that because it's what our patients deserve and it's health care. We all expected the Supreme Court to attack abortion but to read the potential total decimation of Roe in the court's draft decision is a total gut punch."

Minnesota Democrats and civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted the draft ruling, while Republicans and anti-abortion groups said it was an important first step in reducing abortions in the state.

"This was the stuff of dystopian movies, and it is now on our doorstep," Gov. Tim Walz told reporters at an unrelated news conference in St. Paul. Walz on Monday night said he would work to protect abortion access in Minnesota.

Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Tuesday brought two amendments aimed at restricting abortion services in Minnesota but each was ruled out of order in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-led body. Other GOP lawmakers on Tuesday said they were encouraged by the court's draft opinion and what it could mean for Minnesota.

"I think Minnesotans across the board want us to reach a consensus to protect mothers and protect unborn babies," Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, told reporters at the Capitol.

MORE FROM DANA FERGUSON:
Fifty-seven state lawmakers announced that they would leave their seats due to redistricting, desires to seek another office or for personal reasons. The exits include some of the Capitol's best-known deal makers, opening room for one of the largest crops of new freshman legislators in decades.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Related Topics: ABORTIONNEWSMD
Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
What to read next
The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is a high-travel period, marking the 100 most dangerous days each year to be on or near the road.
Some highlights of the revamped site
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan held a press conference at Little Thistle Brewing to celebrate the signing of the "Free the Growler" bill that allows larger breweries in the state to sell 64 oz. growlers and smaller breweries now have the option to sell 12 or 16 oz. canned beers and seltzers in their taprooms.
Members Only
U.S. law requires jury pools to represent a fair cross section of the community. Yet people of color are less likely to make it into the jury pool compared to white residents, even though most defendants are people of color. It's a decades-old issue that has defied solutions.