People are leaving Texas and heading into neighboring states like Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana in search of abortion services.
Texas earlier this month passed a strict abortion law prohibiting anyone from obtaining the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which most people do not yet know they are pregnant. The law has forced some abortion providers in the state to turn away patients seeking the procedure.
The law, however, has not stopped people from seeking and obtaining abortions. Providers outside the state told Insider more Texans are flocking to their clinics instead.
“The surrounding states are seeing an increase in patients, and we have heard from clinics in other states who are now booked up with appointments for several weeks,” Melissa Fowler, chief program officer at the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers.
“Some of these providers are concerned about having the capacity to care for the patients in their community amid the surge in Texas patients.”
In Louisiana at Hope Medical Group for Women, located just minutes outside the eastern Texas border, about half of the clinic's current patients are from Texas.
Clinic administrator Kathaleen Pittman told Insider it's normal for Texans to comprise between 18% and 20% of Hope Medical's patients.
“We have extended our appointment times to accommodate these increases,” Pittaman said. “We are also seeing women who are traveling for hours to get here. That is especially difficult for these patients as Louisiana has a two-visit requirement with the visits at least 24 hours apart.”
Across Oklahoma and New Mexico, the situation is not much different. Clinics there are also experiencing drastic increases in patients from Texas seeking abortions.
Within the last week, New Mexico Planned Parenthood branches saw the number of patients from Texas zip codes spike 67%, said Lauren Kokum, associate director of health communications at Planned Parenthood.
Oklahoma Planned Parenthood branches are seeing even higher influxes. As of early this week, there has been a 133% increase in patients with Texas zip codes in Oklahoma, Kokum told Insider.
“Patients are more often choosing to travel to Oklahoma and New Mexico and we are helping them travel to the clinics there for their care,” Fowler said. “We also know clinics across the country are seeing Texas patients, as some people are choosing to go where they have family or friends versus where is geographically closest.”
Others are traveling farther out. One patient flew from Texas to New York to receive an abortion at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Kokum said.
The National Abortion Federation has received more calls on its dedicated Texas line since September 1, when the Texas law went into effect, according to Fowler.
The increase might point to the unpopularity of the new law in Texas. Multiple surveys, including one from Monmouth University published September 20, indicate the law is disliked by a majority of Americans surveyed. The US Justice Department has also sued Texas over it.
Some people are openly defying the law. A Texas doctor, for example, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he performed an abortion and broke the state's restrictive law.
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