Q&A: Northwest Planned Parenthood discusses SCOTUS ruling’s impact on Washington

KENNEWICK, Wash. — In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade case that protected abortion rights on a national scale, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI) is preparing for a massive influx of patients from out-of-state.

KAPP-KVEW’s Ellie Nakamoto-White spoke with Paul Dillon, VP of Public Affairs for PPGWNI about the impact this ruling will have on their operations in Washington.

This interview has been edited for clarity purposes only.

Ellie Nakamoto-White: How would you describe the situation that’s unfolded today?

Paul Dillon: What is unfolding right now is absolutely devastating for Planned Parenthood health centers [and] reproductive health providers around the country. This is a national crisis that we have not experienced, many of us in our lifetimes. It is absolutely sad and disheartening to see this happen.

ENW: What impact does this now have on Washingtonians?

PD: Yeah, for Washington State, we need to really affirm and assure folks that our health centers in Washington State will remain open. We are going to be here, no matter what. We are expecting a large patient increase from out-of-state patients. There’s an estimated 385% patient increase from patients traveling out of state to seek abortion care.

ENW: Have we seen a number of that size ever?

PD: No. I mean, this is, again, this is a national crisis there. The reason for that 385% number is that you have to realize there are 13 states right now that have trigger bans in effect that mean that access will go dark in their state within 30 days. We’ve already seen today, Missouri, stop providing care. So this is happening. And this is real. And across the country, too. There are a total of 26 states that have an abortion ban on the books. So we’re about to see more than half the country remove access to abortion, again, which is going to be so devastating. It’s cruel, it’s draconian, and it is just a dark day in American history.

ENW: Washington physicians and abortion clinics here in the state… will they be able to handle the 385% influx?

PD: So for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington in North Idaho, in Eastern and Central Washington, we have been preparing for this. So we have patient navigators [and] we have created our own fund to help people access care that are coming from out of state with transportation and lodging. We’ve also been hiring more staff to help with our capacity to prepare for this moment. We knew that when the Supreme Court let the Texas law stand, their abortion ban, how they were going to rule [and] that was nine months ago. So we have been preparing for this. We’ve been working with the governor’s office, [and] the Attorney General Washington lawmakers on making sure that access is protected in Washington State.

ENW: So what exactly is your message then to Washingtonians?

PD: Our message is that abortion will remain legal in Washington State. We’re not going anywhere. We are going to do everything that we can to make sure that patients get the care that they need and we continue to protect and expand the access to care for our patients.

ENW: With all of this happening we’ve already seen states start making their own bans. What exactly is next do you think?

PD: Yeah, I’m very concerned that we’re going to see more laws that criminalize pregnancy outcomes and try and stop patients from traveling out of state to get the care that they need. I think in Washington, we are going to see boldlegislation to really, hopefully, meet this moment and stop this crisis and do everything that we can to make sure that Washington remains the safe state for abortion access.

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