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As originally aired on NPR’s AirTalk on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

On Tuesday, May 3, the day after the leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade from the Supreme Court of The United States, Jon Dunn, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, spoke with Larry Mantle on NPR’s AirTalk to discuss the expected surge of patients that will likely travel to California in order to access safe, legal abortion once the decision is final.

Full interview is transcribed below and can be heard at 37:30 here.

Larry Mantle: I understand you just got off a call with the national Planned Parenthood organization. Please share with us what the organization is thinking in terms of its response.

Jon Dunn: Well both nationally and locally, we’ve been gearing up and are ready for this. We’ve been thinking about this for well over a year. What we’re trying to do nationally is make sure that patients have the best access possible to care. And so there’s been an attempt to set up national websites, navigators, ways that we can help make services available to patients as easily as possible. And we’re doing the same thing locally. We’ve got a local webpage set up, we got patient navigators set up, and we’ve expanded abortion services so we are ready for the surge that we are expecting once this decision becomes final.

Larry Mantle: In terms of that surge, would you be raising money with your local unit of Planned Parenthood to transport patients to California for abortions and return them home, or is this something where the fundraising would be done at the state or national level? How would this be accomplished?

Jon Dunn: It’s really happening at all levels. We have an abortion fund here in Orange and San Bernardino Counties and a number of donors have already stepped up, and we expect that many more will come forward with donations so that we can assist patients if they need assistance with travel funds or to absorbed some of the cost of care if it’s not covered by state funds, so it’s really happening at all levels.

Larry Mantle: One of the things we’ve heard from our previous guests including Professor Franklin is that the demand for abortions is expected to outstrip the number of providers that are available to do it, so how are you addressing that if you are?

Jon Dunn: It’s really hard to say what the demand is going to be but we have already trained additional staff to help support providers, we’ve recruited additional providers, we’ve already added a surgical day in our two surgical sites in San Bernardino and Orange, and we’re prepared to add as many days and as many providers as necessary to meet the need.

Larry Mantle: Is there any regional targeting that you would do for patients in other states? For example, where Orange and San Bernardino would focus on Arizona or something? How would you focus what you do as a local unit?

Jon Dunn: Yes, Arizona is definitely the state of greatest concern for us from the standpoint of it being so close to us and having continuous borders. There are approximately 13,000 abortions done annually in Arizona, so we don’t know what percentage of those patients might make their way to California, but we are anticipating that we could easily see a quarter to a third of those patients.

The other issue we’re seeing is a domino effect that stated with Senate Bill 8 in Texas, and now with the Oklahoma law. And so, what’s happening is patients even from states were abortion is still legal—like New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado—because they’re providers are becoming overwhelmed with Texas patients, they’re finding their way here as a last resort to get the care they need. And that’s the concern we have is that we’re going to see as more and more states foreclose the option, that we are going to see people coming from further and further away for care.

Larry Mantle: Is there a way to beef up the number of providers in those adjacent states? You mentioned two of the four corner states, and places that have more providers like California going to perform abortion in those states to serve populations where there are bans?

Jon Dunn: That’s definitely happening. I think all of the Planned Parenthood affiliates are doing what they can to reach out and find more providers and train more staff to assist those providers. The challenge we have is a resource issue both from a dollar standpoint and the limited number of abortion providers in those states. Fortunately, here in Southern California we are rich in that resource. And so we believe with the Los Angeles affiliate, the San Diego affiliate, the Pasadena affiliate, we will have the providers we need. And I believe we will be able to meet the capacity of patients that are coming to us.

Larry Mantle: Well here in California, because of the politics and the majority view on abortion, I would expect your fundraising would be extraordinary around this because people would have such strong feelings about wanting to make sure abortions can be provided for people in states where bans go into effect. So, do you anticipate this really be an issue to raise enough money to meet the need?

Jon Dunn: I don’t think it will be an issue here in California, plus as your previous guest said, there are 13 bills now moving through the California legislature to make sure Californians and folks coming from out of state are as impacted as little as possible once Roe v Wade gets overturned. But I think there are states where resources are more scarce and I think our national office is doing what they can to try to help step up and support those states.

Larry Mantle: I was assuming money that you raise here in California could be used nationally. Is that not right?

Jon Dunn: Some it if will be used nationally, unquestionably. But right now what we’re focused on is making sure that those patients that need to come here to Orange and San Bernardino Counties are able to get the care they need that we can help them if necessary with the logistics of travel—even hotel accommodations if necessary—and to make sure that every patient gets the care they need, and that its done so in the most compassionate non-judgmental way.

To donate to PPOSBC's Abortion Aid efforts, click here.