The Trust Women’s Health clinic in Wichita, Kansas, has already been overwhelmed with calls from pregnant women in neighboring states asking for abortions.
About 60% of the clinic’s patients are out of state, said Zach Gingrich-Gaylord, spokesperson for Trust Women. Most of them come from Oklahoma, where in May the governor signed a law banning abortions starting at conception, effectively banning the procedure entirely.
Four Oklahoma clinics had to stop offering abortions, leaving neighboring Kansas to the north as the closest option for many women. Women from Texas also travel to Kansas to have an abortion, as the state has banned the procedure after the sixth week of pregnancy.
According to Gingrich-Gaylord, Trust Women in Wichita is unable to help everyone who calls. The clinic offers appointments for two weeks to cope with the volume, but these places fill up quickly and staff often have to ask people to call back later.
“We are definitely turning down a lot more people than we can see,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. According to him, the clinic has attracted additional doctors, staff and increased the number of days the clinic is open. However, meeting demand with limited time and resources is difficult, he said.
“We are already overwhelmed and overloaded with meetings,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. About 7,850 abortions were performed in Kansas last year, according to the state health department. While doctors in offices and hospitals perform abortions, most of them were done 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 gearing up for an influx of patients from other nearby states. Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas are ready to ban abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion a right protected by the US Constitution. All of these states have enacted laws, due to take effect shortly after a ruling is passed that would make abortion a crime punishable by years in prison.
Kansas, on the other hand, protects the right to abortion in the state constitution. In 2019, the state supreme court ruled that the Kansas constitution protects a woman’s right to “make her own decisions about her body, health, family, and family life.” The ordinance barred the state’s conservative legislature from passing laws restricting procedure.
Kansas is one of the states that could see the biggest increase in the number of patients having abortions due to its proximity to many states that deny access, said Danica Severino Wynn, vice president of abortion access at Planned Parenthood.
However, the future of abortion rights in Kansas is also unclear. In August, voters will decide in a referendum whether to remove the right to abortion from the state constitution. This would allow the legislature to pass laws restricting or forbidding the procedure, as in neighboring states.
“This is a draw. It will not be easy for either side to defend their point of view,” Gingrich-Gaylord said of the vote. Kansans for Life and the National Right to Life Committee did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
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 in their community. Louisiana intends to immediately impose a ban. Texas will ban abortion in 30 days. Arkansas and Missouri will do so as soon as their attorneys general confirm that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. New York. Wade.
“The system of clinics in this region is simply not strong enough to sustain the loss of so many clinics,” Gingrich-Gaylord said.
Two Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas already have a two-week wait for abortions, said Emily Wales, president of the group’s Great Plains affiliates. Even before Rowe was overthrown, half of all abortion patients in Kansas were from Missouri, where there was only one clinic in St. Louis. Louis for the entire state.
“We already don’t have enough local Kansas appointments, so when you add another state or two, it becomes an overwhelming task for the system,” Wales said.
Planned Parenthood is opening a third clinic in Kansas City later this month, she said, which will help increase the number of admissions. However, clinics will not be able to accept all patients who need help.
“You can’t sugarcoat it – we won’t have enough appointments to serve people who need medical attention,” Wales said.
While some women will travel to out-of-state clinics for appointments, other patients without money will end their pregnancies without medical attention or be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, Wales said.