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Abortion Clinics Have Already Stopped Scheduling Appointments in Multiple States

Jezebel logo Jezebel 6/16/2022 Susan Rinkunas
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images (Getty Images) © Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images (Getty Images) Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images (Getty Images)

South Dakota’s only abortion clinic performed its last abortion on Monday—not because abortion is banned in the state, but because it could be banned soon, the New York Times reported. (The clinic, a Planned Parenthood, is still seeing patients for birth control and other health services.) South Dakota has become the second state with no legal abortion, after a bounty-hunter-style total ban took effect in Oklahoma in May.

While the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion suggests that the court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the final ruling hasn’t been released. The court typically releases its opinions on blockbuster cases at the end of June, but the decision could come any day now. And the abortion clinics in states with pre-Roe abortion bans or trigger laws, which would automatically ban abortion, are trying to navigate the legal reality while not scheduling patients for appointments they assume they’ll have to cancel. The Times also noted that several Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin, where there is a pre-Roe ban, aren’t planning to schedule patients after June 25.

Jezebel reported in April that Planned Parenthood Southeast halted abortion services in Georgia and Alabama due to what a spokesperson said were staffing changes at both the health center and executive level. Planned Parenthood’s Georgia clinics resumed providing abortions in early May, but the Alabama clinics still have not, a spokesperson confirmed to Jezebel on Thursday. Alabama also has a pre-Roe ban on the books, so it seems likely that those clinics already performed their last abortions. However, care is still available at Alabama’s three independent clinics. Indie clinics provide nearly 60 percent of all abortions in the U.S. but they don’t have the resources, or fundraising capabilities, that Planned Parenthood does.

Planned Parenthood also chose to halt abortions in Oklahoma several weeks before the state’s bounty-hunter law took effect on May 25, an approach that Slate’s Christina Cauterucci described as “excessively cautious.” The independent clinic group, Trust Women, had also halted care at its Oklahoma location for a few weeks in April, before resuming abortions on April 22 and continuing until the law took effect.

It was already extremely difficult to get an abortion in South Dakota, with a 72-hour waiting period, a ban on telemedicine for abortion pills, and a clinic staffed by out-of-state providers who flew in to provide care just once a month. The clinic halted abortions for several months in 2020 because of covid-related concerns for providers’ safety when making the trip. Many residents who were able to, traveled out of state for abortions.

The Planned Parenthood South Dakota Action Fund responded to the news in a series of tweets in which they said that abortions were “paused.”

The group said the clinic “will resume abortions in South Dakota if they are legally allowed to do so.” There’s about a two percent chance that the Supreme Court won’t overturn Roe, so the same odds that the clinic will resume abortions.

This is just a bleak preview of what’s to come—26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion after Roe falls.

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