'Never back down': Planned Parenthood preparing for flood of out-of-state women seeking abortions in Pa.

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and constitutional protections for abortion, Pennsylvania instantly became a bastion for those seeking those services. 

The president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Keystone said Friday in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that the organization will continue to fight to keep abortion legal in Pennsylvania and will expand services for the expected influx of women coming to the state for those services. 

“Planned Parenthood Keystone will never back down,” Melissa Reed said during a news conference after the decision was announced Friday morning. “With everything we’ve got, Planned Parenthood Keystone will keep fighting so you can access the care you need, control your body, your life and your future.” 

More:Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

More:Abortion providers prepare for increasing demand as Roe v. Wade decision looms

Thirteen states, mainly in the South and Midwest, already have laws on the books that ban abortion in the event Roe is overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or prohibitions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. 

In roughly a half-dozen other states, the fight will be over dormant abortion bans that were enacted before Roe was decided in 1973 or new proposals to sharply limit when abortions can be performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. 

Reed said Planned Parenthood Keystone will continue to fight to keep the procedure legal, even with legislation looming in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. While abortion is legal in Pennsylvania now, it may not always be if new legislation is passed, Reed said. Senate Bill 956 is a proposed constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania that would ban abortion in the state.  

Term-limited Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to protect access to abortion for the remainder of his time in office, through January, the Associated Press reported. Running to replace him is the state’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Shapiro, who supports abortion rights, and Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has said he supports banning abortion altogether, with no exceptions. The Legislature is expected to remain in Republican hands next year.

“We’re calling upon everyone to call up their state senators and tell them to vote no on SB 956,” Reed said. 

As other states have passed abortion restrictions, Pennsylvania is now an access point to abortion services, Reed said. She said Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers across the state have seen a 500% increase in out-of-state abortion patients. 

With the Supreme Court decision, that number will surely grow, especially from nearby states that have trigger laws on the books. 

“We primarily anticipate patients coming from Ohio and West Virginia, which both have trigger laws on the books,” Reed said. “We may see patients from as far away as Kentucky.” 

Right now, Planned Parenthood Keystone sees more than 22,000 patients for care annually and will expand services at all of its clinics, including its clinic in York City, to accommodate more patients who are likely to come from out of state following the decision. 

Reed said they are also offering ways to mail medications directly to homes of patients. 

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, decisions about abortion access will be left to the states.

“And we’re growing our Patient Assistance Fund,” she said, “because everyone should have access abortion care regardless of their ability to pay.” 

Reed said the reversal of Roe v. Wade hurts those who already have disproportionate access to health care, including Black people, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color. 

>> Please consider subscribing to support local journalism. 

“These bans take away the fundamental right to abortion care and are a product of the historic and systemic barriers to care these communities face every day,” she said. 

Whatever happens in the future, Planned Parenthood Keystone will stand up for women, Reed said. 

“We will not cower in the face of this decision,” she said. “Instead, we’ll fight back. We’ve been preparing to rise in the moment.” 

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter.