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On the first anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe V. Wade – eliminating fifty years of federal protection for the right to safe, legal abortion – Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) persists as a regional care provider. Over the past year, PPGP has worked to protect and expand access in Kansas to meet an overwhelming demand, while fighting for patients in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma who have been stripped of a fundamental right to control their health care. 

To mark the anniversary and its impact on care across the four-state region, PPGP is engaging supporters and volunteers in a week of action that embodies the “Persistence in Care. Power in Community.” theme that has carried providers and patients since the decision. Events during the week of action include a community discussion in Oklahoma City; a community care drive in Wichita, in partnership with Trust Women; abortion care basket assembly in Kansas City; and “thank a provider” letter writing campaign in Arkansas.

On the day the decision came down in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states throughout the Midwest and South immediately lost abortion access, 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. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently struck down the vigilante abortion laws, but the pre-Roe bans remain in effect.

Statement from Emily Wales, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains: 

"Today serves as a somber reminder of the overwhelming loss of Roe and its impact on patients’ fundamental right to control their bodies, lives, and futures. For the past year, we have lived through the challenges this man-made health crisis has created for the region. But it never needed to be this way. For the patient desperately seeking childcare to make their appointment to the person making a ten-hour drive in one day, we can do better. As providers, we won’t stop until we live in a world where people can access compassionate, essential health care in their own communities. Despite it all, there have been incredible moments of hope and light in this past year – from Kansans’ overwhelming vote to protect care to the many ways our staff, supporters, and volunteers have stepped in to help patients. Our conversations this past year have been both heartbreaking and hopeful, but the renewed and passionate commitment to restoring rights for every person carries us forward.”

Despite continued attacks on reproductive health care, 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 court ruling allowing doctors to provide medication abortions via telemedicine.

Earlier this month, PPGP joined Kansas abortion providers in a lawsuit in state court challenging several onerous, harmful restrictions that make care harder to access and force providers to relay inaccurate, misleading information that threatens patients’ health and undermines medical ethics. The Kansas Attorney General reached an agreement with PPGP and other providers to not enforce its new “abortion pill reversal” law, set to take effect July 1, until a court rules on a request for a temporary injunction.

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 2022, 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, gender-affirming care, and general wellness care.

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