Planned Parenthood in Washington, Idaho forced to fly in nurses amid threats

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Monday is the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which shaped abortion rights for women. In 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion.

In a news release on Friday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell released a snapshot revealing the impacts of that decision on PNW abortion providers.

Senator Cantwell said the number of abortions provided in Washington rose by 23% in 2022.

“The snapshot compiles stories and data from Planned Parenthood clinics in Central and Eastern Washington, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Northwest Abortion Access Fund,” writes the news release. “Together, they paint a picture of a strained reproductive care delivery system in the State of Washington.”

A few main findings from her snapshot are:

  • On average, Washington providers perform 201 more abortions per month.

  • The number of out-of-state abortion patients is up by 46%, with a 56% increase in abortion patients from Idaho specifically.

  • Abortion care providers “face unique threats and harassment given our close proximity to Idaho,” said the Planned Parenthood CEO.

  • Planned Parenthood in Washington and Idaho currently pays to fly six nurses in from other regions “because people are afraid to perform abortions where they live,” writes the snapshot.

  • Around 11% of abortions are now prescribed virtually, up from 8% after Dobbs vs. Jackson.

“What we see in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning abortion rights is a persistent and growing strain on our state’s reproductive health care system,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Out-of-state patients see Washington state as a haven, but our hardworking reproductive care providers are facing a heavier workload and escalating harassment.”

“The Washington-Idaho border is the epicenter of this problem,” she continued.

According to the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Karl Eastlund, Planned Parenthood in Washington and Idaho currently pays to fly in nurses from other regions to help meet demands.

“As abortion providers in Washington, our staff face unique threats and harassment given our close proximity to Idaho, which has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country,” said Eastlund. “Staffing shortages are a problem for all health care providers in Washington. This has been the case for a while now, but the overturn of Roe forced many providers to look at the potential risks now associated with giving care that all people deserve access to.”

According to the news release, 21 states have total abortion bans or stringent restrictions in place.

“In April, Sen. Cantwell joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray and 25 other colleagues in reintroducing the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act, which would ban anti-choice states from restricting or preventing health care providers from performing abortions in states where abortion is legal,” writes the release.