Providers Stop Offering Abortions As Red States Pounce To Ban Procedure

NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 24: People gather at Union Square to protest against the the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case on June 24, 2022 in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The Co... NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 24: People gather at Union Square to protest against the the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case on June 24, 2022 in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) MORE LESS

With trigger laws banning abortions long waiting in the wings, abortion providers in red states are already, hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, being forced to stop offering the procedure. 

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri and South Dakota have officially stopped offering abortions. 

“They already have over 90 percent of patients traveling to Illinois for care,” Lauren Kokum, director of affiliate communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told TPM of the situation in Missouri. “But they now can’t provide at all.” 

“In South Dakota, we’re the sole provider,” she added. “We’ve been flying providers into the state. But they have a trigger ban and that affiliate has shared that they are no longer providing abortions. We’re getting information in real time just like everybody else is.” 

The South Dakota clinic had paused abortion services earlier this month, in anticipation of the ruling.

Complicating the calculus for providers, Kokum said, is that some states’ trigger laws go into effect after a certain number of days, and some are bound up in litigation. 

“We know that in states that are extremely hostile to abortion access, those centers will likely be forced to stop providing abortion due to the states’ legal landscape,” she said. “We’re monitoring the legal landscape as some of these incredibly complex laws are enacted and go through challenges and subsequent litigation.” 

The executive director of the last remaining abortion provider in West Virginia said at a Friday press conference that the clinic will stop providing the procedure due to a felony ban on the books from the 1800s.

“Due to the inaction of our lawmakers to repeal the crime of abortion in our state code, it is impossible for our clinic to provide abortion,” said Katie Quinonez, executive director of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. 

West Virginia is not alone. Abortions are no longer being provided in Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas. Abortion is currently inaccessible in Wisconsin, though legal challenges to an 1849 state law banning the procedure are on the horizon. Abortion is now illegal in almost all cases in Arkansas (where the Department of Health put out a notice warning providers that performing an abortion is now a felony crime punishable by prison time and fines), Utah and Oklahoma. In many more states, abortion will become illegal in the next few days and weeks. 

In total, 18 states have either trigger bans, or bans that predate Roe on the books. There is still some legal murkiness about how quickly those old bans — some dating back centuries — will spring to life without the constitutional protections. Another four states have six-week bans ready to be put into place, and an additional four have toyed with less draconian bans.

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