Patients burst into tears on the phone. For once, he was the good guy.
As of Tuesday, at least for a short time, abortion would be legal again in Texas, and Andrea Gallegos had no time to lose. Her clinic, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services in San Antonio, had been closed since Friday. They were forced to send patients home when Roe v Wade was overturned, canceling 25 scheduled abortions. Patients who had planned to attend on Monday and Tuesday also missed their appointments.
On Tuesday, his main thought was, how many patients could he see? How many could return today?
He started dialing, first calling the people he had sent home on Friday, then moving on to patients on Mondays, then to those who were initially scheduled for Tuesday. It was the first time in a long time that she felt she had been the bearer of good news.
“They were incredibly grateful we called and got our hands on it,” Gallegos said. “His first reaction was, ‘How long do you need me to be there?'”
The days since Roe v Wade was overturned have been a swamp of unprecedented legal chaos. States began enforcing activation laws, abortion bans written specifically to go into effect if and when federal protections were repealed, as well as statutes like the one in Texas, laws prior to Roe that were never repealed. But in Louisiana, Utah, Texas and Kentucky – four states where abortion was banned a few days ago – the procedure can now be resumed. For now.
Abortion clinics are now challenging these same abortion bans, arguing in lawsuits in state courts that the laws do not comply with state constitutions or are fundamentally flawed. So far, abortion bans have been temporarily blocked in four states: Texas, Louisiana, Utah and Kentucky.
Now, clinics in those states are figuring out the next steps or whether services can be offered in an indefinite time window.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, Texas officials began enforcing a criminal statute banning the procedure, prior to Roe’s historic decision. Clinics across the state have stopped performing abortions.
Almost immediately, abortion rights groups challenged the Texas ban. On Tuesday, a state judge announced she would hear the arguments on July 12, within two weeks. Until then, assuming the state does not appeal to a faster higher court, abortions could be resumed under the six-week abortion ban.
That Tuesday, 10 of the 25 patients on Friday went to the San Antonio de Gallegos clinic for an abortion. A handful didn’t pick up the phone. Some told Gallegos that they had found appointments in New Mexico: they would rather wait a few weeks and leave the state to receive care than take an appointment that could be canceled again.
And yet others who could have an abortion on Friday were now beyond six weeks pregnant. The two days without legal access put them above the state limit.
Not all clinics in Louisiana, Utah and Texas have re-offered abortions, and some that have reopened do so with limited staff as they try to call providers again. In Texas, several Planned Parenthood sites are not yet scheduling abortions. But clinic staff who are saying this window feels like one last chance to pay attention to people who are often desperate for help. Everyone believes the window is temporary, and probably short-lived.
“Although it was a small feat to only see 10 patients, it was 10 more people who come to health care,” Gallegos said. “It’s still a victory.”
Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas, told The 19th as of Wednesday that it was booking patients. Whole Woman’s has specialized in abortion care for two decades and has served as an access point in five states. They intend to continue offering abortions until they are forced to close, said Marva Sadler, the senior director of clinical services.
“We’ve always been abortion going forward, that’s what we do,” Sadler said. “Our work with Texas women is not over.”
All states have other restrictions still in their books. In Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky, patients must wait 24 hours after their first appointment before they can have an abortion. In Utah, the waiting period is even longer with 72 hours.
The patients who went to the Gallegos clinic on Tuesday already had the first of the two appointments, in order to have an abortion. But on Wednesday, his staff could not perform any. At 9 a.m., they began seeing patients for their “preadmissions.” On Thursday, assuming the people were still less than six weeks pregnant and that another court had not overturned the decision, all of those patients could return for their actual abortions.
But they all seem like big assumptions. Already, Gallegos warns all patients he schedules that, at some point, their appointments could be canceled again.
“Personally I don’t think we have much time,” Gallegos said. “I’ll be very surprised if we get over this week.”
In Louisiana, clinics are also running to see as many patients as they can see before July 8, when the first hearing of the case that granted a temporary restraining order that allowed abortions to resume on Monday will take place.
Amy Irvin, a spokeswoman for New Orleans Women’s Health Care Center and Baton Rouge Delta Clinic, two of the state’s three abortion clinics, said last week she felt like an emotional whiplash.
On Friday, the New Orleans clinic called 65 patients who were scheduled for mandatory counseling appointments prior to their abortions to inform them that they could not be cared for that day. Irvin said one patient was so distressed by the news that she threatened to commit suicide. Clinic staff worked to get him an appointment at Colorado’s nearest clinic, more than 1,000 miles away.
On Monday, when the temporary restraining order was launched to allow abortions to resume, the woman was already many miles away, while many others were making plans to travel to neighboring states, including New Mexico and Illinois, spending hundreds of dollars more to access care. which was suddenly legal again in Louisiana.
By Monday morning, calls had reached those who were rejected first and new appointments were scheduled while the procedure became legal again.
The challenge facing clinics in Louisiana, Texas and Utah is now availability.
Both Louisiana clinics were only able to open this week with a limited schedule because some of their employees had already made other arrangements to work. It is already difficult to staff abortion clinics due to the specialized training required: doctors often go for procedures. The Women’s Health Center and the Delta Clinic opened just one day this week: the Baton Rouge Clinic on Tuesday and the New Orleans Clinic on Thursday. The state’s third clinic, Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, resumed abortions on Tuesday and will continue to offer appointments throughout the week.
“In less than 72 hours, doctors and staff thought they were out of work, they were not going to be able to see patients, and on Monday, to be notified, the clinic reopened,” Irvin said. “Doctors and staff are being called again in a very short time.”
The Women’s Health Center and the Delta Clinic hope to be able to open more days next week.
Already, confusion and uncertainty will lead patients deeper into their pregnancy before they can make a decision on where it will be legal for them to access abortion care, said staff at The 19th Clinic.
More than a thousand miles away, that’s what worries Karrie Galloway, who heads the Utah Planned Parenthood Association, which operates three of the state’s four clinics.
The state government certified its ban on activation on Friday night, allowing the full abortion ban to take effect immediately. But by then, the clinic was already closed, with 13 patients on Saturday’s schedule. That morning, his staff was forced to cancel all those paperwork. Some patients had already shown up at the clinic before they were told abortions were no longer legal in Utah. Others found out over the phone, in calls that Galloway described as “heartbreaking.” Patients were angry, he said. And I could hardly blame them.
“We are telling them that a faceless politician takes over authority over his own body,” he said.
That day, his organization filed a lawsuit in state court. On Monday, they were expecting the best: patients filling the waiting room in the face of the possibility that the abortion ban would be lifted that day.
Around 3:40 that afternoon, Galloway went downstairs to his office and went straight to the clinic. His lawsuit was successful. The state judge was going to sign an order temporarily blocking Utah’s activation law. For at least two more weeks, they could continue to see patients.
“It felt so good after a lot of bad news after bad news to be able to tell people,‘ Okay, let’s fix this, ’” he said.
The staff at the three Planned Parenthood clinics in Utah moved quickly, logging in for their shifts right away and getting to work watching patients. That afternoon, they performed five abortions. At the three clinics, they put 33 more patients on the calendar for the next day.
Galloway staff plan to work at full capacity for the next two weeks, paying attention to the state legal limit of 22 weeks. There are limits to what they can do. All the doctors who work in their clinics have other full-time jobs. Still, he said, they plan to do everything possible to see as many patients as they can. And in two weeks, they will defend their case again. She still hopes they can convince the court that even without Roe, Utah’s own state constitution guarantees the right to an abortion, which Utah’s triggering law can’t stand.
Otherwise, she said, she can’t imagine what will happen to her patients. Some may travel out of state to clinics in Colorado, which is seven hours from Salt Lake City, or to Las Vegas, a similar distance. Others could drive west, all the way to California.
But she knows that many of the people she serves will not be able to make that trip. It is too far away. It’s too expensive.
“This is only available to a certain percentage of the population,” he said. “People who have the financial, emotional and supportive resources that allow them to drive seven hours in each direction and who have money for a plane or bus ticket.”
Thanks to state courts, abortions can be resumed in four U.S. states. At the moment Abortion
Source link Thanks to state courts, abortions can be resumed in four U.S. states. At the moment Abortion