HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Planned Parenthoods across Pennsylvania are seeing a surge in out-of-state patients seeking abortion care, causing clinics across the commonwealth to become overwhelmed.
The surge in patients comes just months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ultimately ending the Constitutional right for women to seek an abortion. The decision is now left up to individual states.
Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks in Pennsylvania. However, states surrounding Pennsylvania — like Ohio and West Virginia — have banned or are in the process of banning abortion. Planned Parenthood Keystone President and CEO Melissa Reed said that’s causing an influx of patients to seek abortion care in Pennsylvania.
“In July and August of 2021, we only saw 30 patients from out of state [seeking] abortion care. In July and August 2022, that number was 111,” Reed said.
Reed said the majority of patients are coming from Ohio, which is pushing forth legislation that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected — usually around week six of pregnancy.
“Not only are patients now coming from states where there are now bans in place, but we’re seeing patients come to us from Maryland, New Jersey, New York, which have good laws in regards to getting abortion care, but they’re coming to us because their [state’s] appointment schedule is filling up,” Reed said.
Appointments are filling up in Pennsylvania as well.
“But we knew [this] was coming, so we have been building for this moment,” Reed said. “We’ve hired seven new abortion providers, we’ve added appointment availability across all of our health centers, we’ve rolled out medical abortion availability through telemedicine and we’re able to mail it directly to someone’s home if they live in Pennsylvania.”
Despite current and legal access in the commonwealth, abortion laws could change depending on November’s election results.
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano has vowed to ban the procedure if elected. In 2019, he suggested women who have had abortions be charged with murder.
In an April debate hosted by Nexstar, Mastriano also said he did not give way for exceptions for abortion, including rape, incest, or the life of the mother.