In post-Roe US, abortion providers apply for licenses across state lines

Abortion rights protesters hold signs as they demonstrate after the US Supreme Court ruled in the abortion case Dobbs v Women’s Health Organization, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 24, 2022. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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June 25 (Reuters) – Jennifer Kerns, a California doctor, will soon also practice 1,800 miles away at an abortion clinic in Kansas, where women from neighboring Midwestern states where the procedure is banned are expected to seek treatment.

Abortion clinics and providers say Kerns is among dozens of doctors who recently applied for new medical licenses in states where abortion could remain legal, ahead of Friday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling. to end the recognition of a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. Read more

“We felt like it was part of our responsibility — to provide services where they’re really needed,” said Kerns, a surgeon who teaches and practices at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. She plans to fly to Wichita, Kansas when her schedule allows.

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The addition of out-of-state doctors is just one action by abortion clinics facing an uncertain landscape in which access to abortion will be decided state by state, threatening to close some clinics and straining those who remain with more patients.

In some cases, clinics are moving to neighboring states that may protect abortion rights. Others develop legal strategies to push back on restrictions and help people figure out how to get abortions in different states. And at clinics in states like California, where women are likely to travel for the procedure, preparations are underway to add departments and staff.

More than half of the nation’s states could soon have laws banning or severely restricting abortion after Friday’s ruling. Already, thirteen states have so-called trigger laws, or abortion bans that go into effect quickly after federal protections are eliminated, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

In North Dakota, which has a trigger law, Tammi Kromenaker is scrambling to open a new abortion center across the border in Minnesota. Kromenaker, who ran North Dakota’s only abortion clinic, the Red River Clinic, for 24 years, said two of the clinic’s doctors are already licensed in Minnesota and a third is working to get an abortion there. Licence.

“We’re committed to that care, but we shouldn’t have to bend and twist into all of these different shapes and deal with all of these different challenges that way,” Kromenaker said.

In other states with trigger laws, clinics are already shutting down abortions. Even before the Roe ruling, a statewide ban in Oklahoma forced clinics to stop booking appointments for the procedure.

Clinics run by Planned Parenthood in Utah, another triggering law state, said they would stay open as long as possible, hoping to use the legal system to delay or reverse bans passed by lawmakers .

LEGAL STRATEGY

Lawyers representing abortion providers are uniting around a plan to argue that privacy and equal protection rights in many state constitutions protect abortion without explicitly saying so.

“We don’t intend to immediately say this is the end of the road,” said Wellspring Health Access President Julie Burkhart, who plans to open a clinic in conservative Wyoming, arguing that the he state constitution’s emphasis on freedom protects the right to abortion.

The strategy, said Cary Franklin, faculty director of the Center for Reproductive Health, Law and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, is to establish as much as possible that abortion is a state right. , even though the Supreme Court ruled that it was not a protected right. federal law.

The legal strategy is already being tested in Pennsylvania, where the Women’s Law Project is arguing in court that the state constitution protects the right to abortion, even as conservative lawmakers back an amendment to ban it, said Amal Bass, Director of Policy and Advocacy.

In Kansas, where the state Supreme Court has already ruled there is a right to abortion in its constitution, supporters believe that even if a proposed new amendment banning abortion is approved by voters in August , they have about a year to ward off the restrictions by legal challenges.

Kerns’ new license in Kansas is her second in less than a year. She had previously obtained a license in Oklahoma, offering abortions to women fleeing restrictions in neighboring Texas until Oklahoma enacted its own ban last month.

What if Kansas also banned abortion?

“All of these people should come to Colorado or New Mexico,” she said. “I would get a license in those states.”

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Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California and Gabriella Borter in Washington, DC; edited by Paul Thomasch and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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