Four abortion clinics in Kansas prepare for an influx of patients from states banning the procedure
The Trust Women’s Health Clinic in Wichita, Kansas, was already overwhelmed by the volume of calls from pregnant women in neighboring states seeking abortions.
About 60% of the clinic’s patients are from out-of-state, Trust Women spokesman Jack Gingrich-Gaylord said. They mostly come from Oklahoma, where the governor signed a law in May outlawing abortions triggered by fertilization—basically a total ban on the procedure.
Four clinics in Oklahoma had to stop offering abortions, leaving neighboring Kansas to the north as the closest option for many women. Texas women are also traveling to Kansas to have an abortion after the state banned the procedure after the sixth week of pregnancy.
Wichita doesn’t have the ability to rely on women to help everyone who calls, Gingrich-Gaylord said. The clinic offers appointments in blocks of two weeks to manage volume, but those places fill up fast and staff often have to ask people to call later.
“We’re certainly turning away a lot more people than we can see,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. He added that the clinic has additional doctors, staff and extended the open days of the clinic. However, it is difficult to meet the demand with limited time and resources, he said.
“We already exceed capacity and capacity with appointments,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. According to the state health department, there were about 7,850 abortions in Kansas last year. While doctor’s offices and hospitals perform abortions, the majority of them took place in four clinics. “You can’t add more hours to these days,” he said.
Now, Trust Women and three other women’s health clinics that perform abortions in Kansas are preparing for a flood of patients from other nearby states. Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas are set to ban abortion when the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion a protected right under the US Constitution. Those states have all passed laws, set to take effect soon after a ruling that would make abortion a crime punishable by a year’s prison term.
Kansas, on the other hand, protects the right to abortion in its state constitution. In 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of Kansas protects a woman’s right to “make her own decisions about her body, health, family formation, and family life.” The ruling forbade the state’s conservative legislature from passing laws restricting the process.
Kansas is one of the states that may see the largest increase in the number of abortion patients, which are shunning access because of their proximity to so many states, said Danica Severino Wynn, vice president of abortion access at Planned Parenthood. Told.
Another 32 abortion providers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas will soon be banned from offering the procedure, leaving more than 8 million women without access to abortion where they live. Louisiana is set to implement its ban immediately. Texas will outlaw abortion in 30 days. Arkansas and Missouri will do so as soon as their attorney general has certified that the Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade.
“The clinic system in this area is not strong enough to bear the loss of so many clinics,” Gingrich-Gaylord said.
There are already two-week wait times for abortions at two of Planned Parenthood’s clinics in Kansas, said Emily Wells, president of the group’s associates in the Great Plains area. Even before Roe turned around, half of all abortion patients in Kansas came from Missouri, where there was only one clinic in St. Louis for the entire state.
“We don’t already have enough appointments for people living in Kansas who are local, so when you add another state or two, it’s overwhelming to have a system,” Wells said.
He said Planned Parenthood is opening a third clinic in Kansas City later this month that will help increase its ability to see patients. However, clinics will not be able to see every patient who needs care.
Wells said, “There’s no way out – we won’t have enough appointments to serve those who need health care.”
While some women will travel for appointments at out-of-state clinics, other patients who don’t have the money will terminate their pregnancies without medical help or be forced to terminate unwanted pregnancies, Wells said.
The future of abortion rights in Kansas is also uncertain. In August, voters will decide in a referendum whether to strip abortion rights from the state’s constitution. This would allow the legislature to pass laws that restrict or restrict the process, like neighboring states.
“It’s a toss up. It won’t be easy for either side to make its case,” Gingrich-Gaylord said of the ballot measure.
Cansons to Life and the National Right to Life Committee did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.