COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains reports seeing a 130% increase in patients seeking abortion care in the region after the Texas abortion bill took effect in early September.
A federal judge in Texas just blocked the bill Wednesday, but it's unclear how long that block will be in place. It also doesn't mean women can immediately start seeking abortions again in Texas.
Meanwhile, some of our local clinics, served by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, are scheduling abortion appointments three weeks out because of the influx of out-of-state patients trying to access care.
"That's a long time to wait to get your abortion care. Obviously, abortion is a time-sensitive health care service," said Vicki Cowart, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The organization provides care to communities in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.
The abortion bill in Texas prevents women from seeking abortion care in the state if they are more than six weeks pregnant. Cowart said many women don't know they're pregnant by six weeks. If they need to seek abortion care after six weeks, they have to go out of state. Many of those women face barriers to accessing that out-of-state care.
"There's just this long list of really tough issues that a person has to work through, but then think about all the people who can't work through them. Think about the people who don't have a car, or working car, or a car that can drive 1,300 miles. Think about the worker who doesn't have days off or for health issues, who might lose their job, or are hourly and so would lose a couple days' salary, and they may not be able to afford that," Cowart said, adding that those women are faced with making a big sacrifice or carrying their pregnancy to term.
Planned Parenthood does offer an assistance fund to help low-income patients seek out-of-state care, providing everything from transportation to a place to stay. To learn more about this fund, click here.
"We know this from historical and worldwide data, making [abortion] illegal doesn't make it go away. It just makes it more dangerous," Cowart said, adding that studies have shown that comprehensive sexual education and access to contraception can greatly reduce the number of women who seek abortion care.
Abortions only count for 10% of the care Planned Parenthood provides to the community. They also offer a full range of reproductive healthcare options, including contraception, STD/STI testing and care, cancer screenings, and sexual education.