California will play a major role in providing abortion services to people living in states where the medical procedure is banned or severely restricted after Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to a recent report from UCLA.
Between 8,000 and 16,100 more people will travel to California each year for abortion care, and many more will come to Los Angeles County, UCLA’s Center for Reproductive Health, Law and Policy reported in a study released this month.
Last week, the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights under the Constitution. Thirteen states were willing to effectively ban abortion immediately after the decision was announced through “operating laws,” and more states are following the same trend, according to health care providers. In all, 26 states are expected to ban or severely restrict access to abortion.
But access to abortion in California will still be protected by state law. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom along with Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced a united effort to protect access to reproductive care.
That makes California a safe haven for out-of-state patients, according to the University of California study, which was compiled after a draft Supreme Court decision was leaked last month suggesting a reversal of nearly 50 years of abortion. .
With the official decision, Los Angeles County could receive 500 to 1,000 new patients seeking abortion services each year, said Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute at UCLA and co-author of the study.
“These are big numbers that people and the county have to take into account,” Sears said.
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors signaled its support for a pilot program that would make the county a safe haven for out-of-state people seeking abortion services.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Council member Nithya Raman introduced a proposal that would prohibit the use of city resources to detain anyone who seeks, performs or assists in abortion care or cooperates with out-of-state investigations related to abortion.
“As we move forward with this new reality, we must ensure that Los Angeles serves as a city of sanctuary for those who seek or assist in abortion care from outside our borders,” Raman said in a statement.
According to the report, many of those who come to California for abortion care will be women of color who are uninsured, live in states without Medicaid expansion and lack access to medical resources such as abortion drugs. They will be more likely to need to travel longer distances and face medical complications, the report said, although people with more economic and social resources will have the means to travel to obtain abortion services.
For someone who lives in Texas, where abortion is prohibited, it may be easier to fly to Los Angeles International Airport than drive to a neighboring state, and some people could choose to have the procedure in a state away from home for privacy reasons, the study said.
The study indicated that pregnant minors may be more likely to travel to California because state law does not require parental consent for abortion care.
However, the makeup and the number of people who will be traveling to California are still up in the air.
“Our report is based on previous data and research,” said Sears. “We anticipate the future, so we don’t know everything.”
It is often people of color, low-income people, and immigrants who lack legal status who need the most help when it comes to getting medical care, said Jessica Pinckney, executive director of ACCESS Reproductive Justice.
The Pinckney nonprofit helps pay for airfare, travel expenses, hotel accommodation and other costs for people seeking an abortion. It also offers volunteers to take women to a local clinic in a state where abortion is legal, or grants to cover missed labor and childcare costs.
There are many variables involved, Pinkney said, but the hope is that the nonprofit can connect people with someone who can help.
“Everyone’s needs are different. There is no one specific way to provide practical support,” Pinkney said. “At this very moment, there are a lot of people who cannot leave their country.”