On the 50th anniversary (Sunday, January 22) of the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, which was overturned last June, Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) is working to protect and expand access in Kansas, while fighting for patients in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma that have been stripped of a fundamental right to control their bodies and futures.
Since the overruling of Roe – eliminating 50 years of protection for the right to safe, legal abortion – health centers in Kansas have worked to meet an overwhelming need for patients throughout the region who immediately lost abortion access in their home states, including Arkansas and Missouri. In May, prior to the Supreme Court decision, Oklahoma became the first state to ban abortion entirely, with a bounty-hunting scheme similar to Texas’s S.B. 8, which encourages the general public to bring costly and harassing lawsuits against abortion providers, health center workers, or any person who helps someone access an abortion.
Statement from Emily Wales, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains:
"A year ago, we marked this anniversary in celebration of a person’s right to make their own health care decisions without government interference. Today, our reality is very different. We instead join many across our region who are feeling the overwhelming loss of Roe and its impact on patients who cannot access care at home or, too often, cannot get an appointment from providers in our region who are overwhelmed by out-of-state need. Yet, we press on, with a commitment to expanding care and helping as many people as we can in Kansas, and to laying the groundwork to restore rights in our other states.”
“We may assume the long arc of history bends towards justice, but we have a duty to grab hold of it and pull it in that direction. We have worked to do that at Planned Parenthood Great Plains for the past year, by serving as many patients as possible seeking abortion care, fighting intensely to protect access in Kansas, and working to reassure and support all patients in our four states that we are here, and our doors remain open.”
Statement from Dr. Iman Alsaden, chief medical officer, Planned Parenthood Great Plains:
“Long before the overruling of Roe, I witnessed the slow destruction of abortion access in three of the four states where I provide care. Yet, there was still the federal protection of a fundamental right to keep the dam from breaking. When Roe was overturned, those floodgates opened to allow states across our region to immediately ban care – leading to the health care crisis I’m seeing today. Our team has treated countless patients – many of whom have traveled through the night – who are confused why they now must overcome obstacles to care that should be available in their communities. And those are the patients we can see, but I also think of the many others who simply can’t afford the time off work, travel, or childcare to get to a state with access. It’s heartbreaking but our message is simple: we aren’t going anywhere. Everyone deserves the right to essential, life-saving health care.”
Despite a devastating year for reproductive rights and freedom, PPGP has expanded its footprint and services across the four-state region including launching telehealth medication abortion care in Kansas in an effort to increase appointment availability. This announcement followed a recent court ruling allowing doctors to provide medication abortions via telemedicine.
Less than a week after the overruling of Roe, PPGP opened a new health center in Kansas City, Kansas, which offers reproductive and sexual health care including abortion care, STI testing and treatment, family planning, gender-affirming care, and primary care. PPGP operates three health centers across the state where abortion remains protected after Kansans overwhelming rejected a ballot measure that would have eliminated any right to abortion in the state’s constitution and opened the door to dangerous abortion bans.
In November of last year, PPGP celebrated its expansion into Southwest Oklahoma with the opening of a new health center in Lawton. The Lawton location brings access to reproductive health care much closer to home for patients in a part of the state where there is an identified need for sexual health. The clinic started seeing patients for a wide range of services including birth control, STI and HIV testing and treatment, emergency contraception (morning-after pill), pregnancy testing and services, and general wellness care.