Northwest Abortion Clinics, Funds Preparing For Influx Of Patients From States Poised To Enact Abortion Bans

Abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists rally outside the Supreme Court on Nov. 1, 2021 as arguments were set to begin about abortion by the court, on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists rally outside the Supreme Court on Nov. 1, 2021 as arguments were set to begin about abortion by the court, on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. CREDIT: Jacquelyn Martin/ AP

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This piece was originally published May 4, 2022. 

Northwest Abortion providers and access funds say they’re already accommodating patients who have lost access to the procedure in their home states.

Paul Dillon, vice president for public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, says in the wake of a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion showing the court will likely overturn their own precedent, clinics are preparing for patients from across the country.

“The news is devastating, at the same time we’ve also been preparing for this moment,” Dillon said, “Last night’s report made clear that our deepest fears are coming true, and while abortion is still legal, we really don’t have a moment to spare and must take action now.”

He says currently about one in four patients seeking abortions at the providers’ Eastern Washington’s clinics are from out of state. At the Spokane Valley and Pullman Planned Parenthood Clinics, about 40% of abortion-seeking-patients are from Idaho.

He says in anticipation of restrictions in other states, clinics have been working to expand telehealth to provide more medication abortions, have been working to make accurate information about abortion more accessible, and increase the number of medical providers who can perform the procedure through a new change in state law.

Iris Alatorre is a program manager at the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, a group that connects patients seeking abortion with funds for travel cost, or money for the cost of the procedure. She says the fund has seen an increase in demand for several years from people around the country, and is discussing how to expand its operations to address the increasing number of people traveling to the region seeking an abortion.

“Abortion access is going to continue to be a reality in Oregon and Washington, and we’re still going to be here supporting people to get them the care that they need,” Alatorre said.

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