Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is only scheduling appointments for abortions until June 25 in anticipation of overturning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. At the same time, the organization’s “patient navigators” are gearing up to help clients access care in states where abortion will remain legal.
At least one Madison woman facing an unwanted pregnancy in recent days was unable to get an appointment in Wisconsin and instead had to book an appointment at a clinic in Illinois, according to Dr. Jessica Dalby, family physician at UW Health who is on the steering committee of Pregnancy Options Wisconsin: Education, Resources & Support Inc. (POWERS). Abortion, says Dalby, “is already unreachable in Wisconsin.”
A draft U.S. Supreme Court decision, leaked in early May, says the High Court is considering overturning deer. The decision is expected to be made this month.
If the High Court overturns the landmark decision, abortion will be illegal in Wisconsin due to a criminal ban on abortion passed in 1849 that was never removed from the books.
The law criminalizes anyone, other than the mother, who “intentionally” destroys the “life of an unborn child”. There are no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or to preserve the health of the mother. The only exception permitted by law is to save the life of the mother. In this case, it should be carried out by a doctor, deemed necessary or “advised by two other doctors if necessary” and, except in an emergency, be carried out in an approved maternity hospital.
If abortion is banned in Wisconsin, Lisa Boyce, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, encourages women seeking services to first contact Planned Parenthood (1-800-230-PLAN). The organization operates 22 health centers throughout the state, three of which offer abortion (Milwaukee Affiliated Medical Services also offers abortion); all Planned Parenthood facilities will remain open.
“We try to encourage all patients to stop by Planned Parenthood as their first point of contact, even if abortion is prohibited, because we know we can help people find it easier to get an appointment. where to get an appointment, based on their status and whether they are interested in a medical or surgical appointment,” says Boyce. “We know that if deer falls, there are up to 26 states that could prohibit access to abortion, which means there could be high volumes in Illinois or Minnesota [where abortion will remain legal] and our patient navigators will be in the best position to determine how to provide patients with the fastest care possible. »
Zoie Hawpetoss, who works at Planned Parenthood clinics in Sheboygan and Manitowoc, says she and other patient navigators learn about state laws that will still provide care and identify local and regional resources for funding. . She says some patients will be able to handle all of this on their own, but for those who can’t, there will be help. “So our job is going to be to figure out where their needs are and the easiest way to get them to their appointment.”
Hawpetoss will also have access to additional financial resources for patients who need help paying for expenses such as travel transportation. Boyce says Planned Parenthood is seeing an increase in the level of donations dedicated to patient care. Patients can email Planned Parenthood at [email protected]
Planned Parenthood also includes this link on its website for people wishing to seek abortion services on their own.
As of June 19, Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee indicates on its website that its doors are still open. If the Supreme Court rules as expected, the facility “will remain open to help answer questions and provide resources for out-of-state abortion clinics, travel assistance and general questions.” The organization suggests contacting the office by phone at 414-240-2018.
POWERS, a group of volunteers made up of doctorsdoulas, midwives and other healthcare professionals, is another organization that is growing to meet the increased needs of patients seeking abortion services.
Dalby says the group was started a few years ago when she and other medical professionals started seeing women trying to access abortion options get caught up in the network of care providers. saying crisis pregnancy centers; these centers do not refer women for abortion or offer abortion services, and women may lose crucial time and have fewer options for care if they find themselves there by mistake. Dalby says she and others were also seeing more people self-manage their abortions with medication ordered online. They wanted to provide a place for women to call with any complications or questions.
“We were passionate about helping Wisconsin people navigate the complicated system and rules that exist in Wisconsin,” she says. They also wanted to create a place where people could search for comprehensive information on pregnancy care, abortion, adoption and more.
They created a hotline (608-514-1714), staffed by volunteer midwives. She says they assumed they would see people calling primarily with medical questions. But, she says, “it was rarely that and mostly a question of access and funding.” Dalby says the group is working to set up grant-funded positions to staff the line.
“Until now, we were an all-volunteer organization,” she says. “With the growing need and the anticipated current need for someone to help people navigate [their options], the call person is going to be more of a coordinator. If there are any medical questions, they can put the person in touch with a volunteer network of midwives and doctors to answer those questions, and they would have the expertise to manage funding and transportation.
“We are fortunate to have medical funds in multiple parts of the state to connect people,” she says. Most of them have worked by giving block grants to clinics that offer abortion services, Dalby adds. Now that there will be additional costs associated with accessing out-of-state care, including childcare and travel, “I think it’s time to reflect and move the funding forward. for other necessary access points”.
The POWERS website will continue to be updated as options change.