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Why some out-of-state people might flee to California with potential Roe v. Wade reversal

A spokesperson said Planned Parenthood Mar Monte health centers saw 80 patients from out of state between July 2021 and April 15, 2022.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Advocates for abortion rights say California could see a rise in people fleeing to the state for care if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

"Ultimately, the reversal of Roe could drive up the number of out-of-state patients whose nearest abortion provider would be in California. Roughly, with Roe in place, that’s about 46,000 people. Without Roe, that’s about 1.4 million people coming to California for services,” said Lauren Babb, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte health centers in Sacramento.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of out-of-state patients whose nearest clinic would be in California would increase nearly 3,000%.

The uproar from advocates stems from a leaked draft opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, which was reported by Politico Monday.

On Tuesday, protests erupted outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento as people called for abortion rights to be upheld.

Credit: abc10kxtv
A crowd gathers to protest a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court on a possible ruling for Roe v. Wade.

Protesters stood in solidarity with other demonstrations happening across the nation. 

While abortion access in California is unlikely to change if Roe v. Wade is struck down, it could have consequences for those out of the state who could be turning to California for answers.

Baab said the Planned Parenthood Mar Monte health centers saw 80 patients from out of state between July 2021 and April 15, 2022.

Even within California, where abortion services are likely to remain protected, Baab said services can be challenging to reach for many, especially in the Central Valley where centers are much farther a part.

She said access would be extremely difficult to reach for people who are seeking services out of state but adds they are working with other organizations to make sure people who are seeking these services have access to them regardless of the decision in the coming weeks or months.

Attorney Andrea Rosen said reading the draft opinion made her sick to her stomach. She called Justice Samuel Alito’s arguments illogical.

“This is established precedent for 50 years - throwing out not only the right to abortion but jeopardizing the right to birth control,” Rosen said. “If you don’t want people to get pregnant, you should be supporting birth control. I don’t understand the logic in that other than this is an attempt to control women.”

She recounts working in one of California’s first abortion clinics and called a potential reversal of Roe v. Wade a "gigantic step backwards."

“There were people in Minnesota who flew in by the planeload to California to get abortions back in the early ‘70s," she said.

Another nationwide rally organized by the women’s march and planned parenthood is set for May 14. In Sacramento, it will be held at the State Capitol.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in June or July. It remains to be seen how public uproar will impact the final, formal decision. 


Biden, Harris statements on leaked Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade

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