Republican State Rep. Erin Grall, House sponsor of HB 5 — the 15-week abortion ban. Gov. Ron DeSantis (background) signed the bill into law April 14, 2022. Credit: DeSantis Facebook page.
Abortion providers in Florida that have seen an influx of out-of-state patients for months are bracing for even more, mostly from Georgia but also from neighboring Southern states.
“Planned Parenthood centers are busy already. We’ll be even busier, from neighboring states,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “We’ve seen hundreds in the past year from many states, most of them from Georgia. We expect to see more.”
Goodhue said Planned Parenthood clinics also have seen significant increases in patients from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as those states’ Republican-led legislatures have restricted reproductive rights.
“We have a health center in Tallahassee and in Jacksonville, those are our northernmost sites. We’ve already seen an increase, because of restrictions they’ve passed in the past year or so, in out-of-state patients from as far away as Texas.”
Goodhue said Planned Parenthood is working to expand its capacity in hopes of turning away no patient who qualifies for a legal abortion in Florida.
“We’re going to help as many people as we can,” Goodhue said. “My heart bleeds for people in other states right now who have to be turned away because Roe v Wade was overturned. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine being in a health center and saying no, you have to be forced to carry this pregnancy to term, or find another provider, which is going to be real.
“Health providers across this country are already overwhelmed. It’s people with money to travel, time off from work or school, that will be able to access care, but the teenagers, young people, or people that are systemically left out of the health-care system because of their race, because they’re overrepresented in uninsured populations, that are going to have a really hard time getting appointments, and that terrifies me.”
In Georgia, a 2019 law banning abortion after six weeks, has been on hold in district court, awaiting a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Georgia’s attorney general already has filed a notice to the court to remove the hold and let the six-week ban go into effect soon, as reported in the Georgia Recorder, affiliated with the Florida Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood and others have challenged Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban, which will become law next Friday if it is not blocked by a court injunction. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday morning.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll be successful there. But it is a dangerous time. We have to wake up and pay attention,” Goodhue said.
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration lists 55 licensed private and non-profit abortion provider sites among Florida’s 67 counties.
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