Patients from over 32 states have traveled to Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC) health centers for abortion care since the June 24, 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the federal right to abortion; some have even flown to California for miscarriage care for fear of prosecution in their home state.
ANAHEIM, CA – June 22, 2023 – Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022, ending the federal right to abortion, Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC) released sobering statistics about the ruling’s impacts.
Since July 2022, over 20 U.S. states have banned or severely restricted access to abortion, and the impacts are even being felt in Southern California, where abortion remains legal. The cascading effects of abortion restrictions and the resulting climate of fear for both patients and providers have upended abortion care nationwide. Over the past year, nearly 450 people from 32 states nationwide have traveled to PPOSBC health centers for abortion care. The vast majority of these patients are traveling from Texas, where abortion is totally outlawed, and Arizona, where constantly shifting abortion restrictions have sown confusion and chaos.
PPOSBC’s Abortion Aid program, which helps both local and out-of-state patients make arrangements for abortion care, has collected anonymous data and stories since the program launched in January 2022, soon after the passage of SB 8 in Texas (which outlawed abortion after six weeks gestation). The Abortion Aid program includes a confidential call center, where trained patient navigators help abortion patients from across the country make travel arrangements, provide hotel and meal vouchers, and even help arrange logistics like car seats.
“The patients we have had the honor of assisting this year are brave and resilient, but should not be forced to travel thousands of miles for basic healthcare,” said Heeva Ghane, PPOSBC’s Director of Case Management and direct lead for the Abortion Aid program. “We have had patients fly to California during a medical emergency because they feel safer seeking care here than in their home state. Patients unable to find or afford childcare are traveling across multiple states with small children, so they can make a choice that will enable them to better care for their families. Patients who cannot get time off work are driving 12 hours non-stop for a five-minute procedure, then turning around and driving home. These patients are strong, but they are also scared. They should not be put in the position they are in.”
Many of PPOSBC’s out-of-state patients over the past year have been low-income, and had previously never traveled outside of their home state.
Said Ghane: “One of our first patients from out-of-state was traveling from Texas. It was her first time ever getting on a flight. She was traveling alone and very nervous. She explained to me how she already had an 18-month-old. Her boyfriend had broken up with her and did not want to be involved with the 18-month-old’s life, and she didn’t have the financial means to support herself, her baby, and a newborn. Luckily on the day of her appointment, I was also working in the health center so I was able to meet her in person, and hold her hand during her appointment.”
“Another patient we had recently was traveling from Florida, and she was also flying for the first time. Luckily her boyfriend was accompanying her, but it was his first time flying as well. She did not have a credit card, and was not familiar with how hotels and rideshares worked. We helped her make a hotel reservation and arranged a rideshare for her, but her inexperience with traveling still made the journey to get to our health center from LAX a stressful time.”
A large number of out-of-state patients at PPOSBC are unable to get abortion care earlier in their pregnancies because their home state imposes so many hurdles on getting an abortion. They often have many other aspects of their life to coordinate, such as time off work, childcare, financial concerns, and finding someone to accompany them.
The climate of fear around abortion and pregnancy-related care has even led some patients to avoid seeking legal medical procedures in their home state.
“There was a patient traveling from Texas who was experiencing symptoms of a miscarriage, which is a medical emergency,” said Ghane. “She reached out to us in California because she was too afraid to seek help at home. We told her she was able to receive this kind of care in her home state, and urged her to reach out to her local Planned Parenthood. However, because she was so afraid of being prosecuted under Texas law, she ended up flying to California to get care at one of our health centers. At her appointment, she found out she was no longer pregnant–she had passed the pregnancy while on her flight.”
By the Numbers
Since July 2022, nearly 450 people from 32 states nationwide have traveled to PPOSBC health centers for abortion care.
The vast majority of these out-of-state patients are from two states. 39% stated they are from Texas, 30% stated they are from Arizona.
20% of patients traveling from other states request financial assistance in order to make the trip.
While the number of out-of-state abortion patients represents a very small fraction of the overall number of abortion patients PPOSBC sees each year, the fact remains that more people have been forced to travel thousands of miles for abortion care since the Dobbs ruling on June 24, 2022.
“Well over a year ago, we knew that the Supreme Court would likely overturn Roe v. Wade, so we were well-prepared to absorb more patients forced to travel from out-of-state,” said Nichole Ramirez, PPOSBC’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Donor Relations. “We are committed to providing quality, compassionate care to everyone in our community and beyond. Our doors remain open, as they have for the past 50 years, to any patient who comes to us, regardless of their insurance, immigration status or ability to pay.”
Continued Ramirez: “Today’s anniversary is an emotional one, and it reminds us that none of us are unaffected when rights are taken away for anyone in our country. The stories we have to share should make any extremist politician who supports abortion restrictions think twice about the lives they are upending.”