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As originally published in the Orange County Register and the San Bernardino Sun on Monday, June 26, 2023.

In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a constitutional right to abortion, more than twice as many out-of-state patients have come to Orange and San Bernardino counties seeking abortions, according to Planned Parenthood.

“Often, when patients call us, we have an appointment in the next few days, but they will ask for an appointment two weeks out,” said Jon Dunn, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, “because they recognize that it’s going to take them that long to organize childcare, find a way to get away from their job, and organize transportation.”

Dunn made the comments Monday morning, June 26, at an event outside Planned Parenthood’s health center in San Bernardino, alongside Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino.

In June 2022, with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, granting a federally recognized right to an abortion. The Dobbs decision threw the issue back to the states, opening the door for states to ban abortion outright. In the year since, 14 states have made abortion illegal while 11 have expanded access. And members of Congress on both sides of the issues have expressed a desire for national legislation on the matter.

“Republicans from California say one thing when they’re at home, and then they give their voting cards to the extremists in Washington when we’re working,” Aguilar said. “When given a chance, not a single Republican from California voted to protect women from traveling across state lines to get abortion care. Not a single California Republican voted to protect the right of women to get contraception.”

According to Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, in the year since the Dobbs decision, 451 out-of-state abortion patients have been seen in their clinics, as compared to 180 out-of-state abortion patients in the year prior.

Of the patients seen in the past year, 142 received services in San Bernardino County health centers, including 81 at the health center in the city of San Bernardino.

Out-of-state patients, who have to arrange for travel and often make child care arrangements, are getting abortions later than local patients are. According to Planned Parenthood, only 55% of out-of-state abortion patients were seen by Planned Parenthood in time for a medication abortion, which must be used within 10 weeks of conception. Local patients are able to get medication abortions 82% of the time.

According to Dunn, out-of-state patients come to Planned Parenthood in Orange and San Bernardino counties from 32 states, mostly Texas and Arizona, but also from states as far away as Florida. And patients from further west, including states where abortion remains legal, like in Nevada and Colorado, have also been coming to California.

“There’s such a surge coming from places like Texas and Arizona” at Nevada and Colorado clinics that “their own local patients can’t get in the door, so they look further and further west, until they can get an appointment,” Dunn said.

Out-of-state abortion patients requiring a surgical abortion are almost three times as likely to be in their second trimester as local patients are, according to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has helped out-of-state abortion patients with an average of $488 in subsidies for travel and medical expenses.

Aguilar warned that the Dobbs decision wasn’t the end of restrictions on abortion.

“This is no longer the Republican Party (of) states’ rights. This is about a nationwide ban,” he said. “That means extremists like (Georgia representative) Marjorie Taylor Greene will write our laws and decide what’s best for our communities. That’s not the future we want. That’s not the future we want to share with our children.”

And Aguilar — the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives — vowed that things would be different with Democrats in control of the House in the future.

“When Democrats take back the House, we look forward to passing abortion rights and making sure we enshrine those, the Women’s Health Protection Act, into law,” he added.

H.R. 3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, would make it legal for doctors to provide abortions across the United States. The bill passed in the previous session of Congress before stalling out in the Senate. A second version of the law is currently in limbo, and Chu has filed a petition to get the House to vote on the bill.

Aguilar wasn’t alone among Southern California Democrats marking the Dobbs anniversary — others commemorated the occasion with events in their districts. On Saturday, Chu participated in a similar event with Planned Parenthood Pasadena & San Gabriel Valley.

“In the year since (the Dobbs decision), we have seen what this new reality looks like, from patients in Texas driving through the night to arrive here in California to get the care they need to women being denied lifesaving medical treatment for miscarriages because they lived in states with abortion bans,” Chu said.

On Saturday, Rep. Norma Torres, D-Ontario, put out a statement condemning the Dobbs decision.

“A year ago, the Supreme Court decided women are second-class citizens who do not have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. By eliminating women’s right to self-determination, this conservative-majority court betrayed the ideals of our nation,” Torres is quoted as saying in a news release issued by her office. “I refuse to let today’s young girls grow up with fewer rights than I did, and I will not allow our country to backslide to the days of back-alley abortions. A woman’s decisions about her body are hers and hers alone.”

In June, a Gallup poll found that a record 69% of Americans believe abortion should be legal the first three months of pregnancy.



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