FL women’s clinics scramble to serve worried patients as abortion rights shrink

Reproductive health clinics in Florida, caught between a new ban on performing abortions after 15 weeks pregnant and an order coming next week to block it, said they were inundated with phone calls from anxious patients when the ban came into force on Friday.

Florida has 55 licensed abortion sites. Contacted by the Florida Phoenix, a number of vendors declined to speak to reporters on principle; others described the harsh conditions in their clinics but did not want to be named; and three took the floor for the record.

“Our phones have been on for a while. Mostly we’re dealing with uncertainty and trying to make sure we’re getting correct information for our patients,” said Liberty Feucht, director of the Tampa Women’s Health Center.

Feucht had to tell some callers the clinic couldn’t help them terminate their pregnancies until Florida Circuit Judge John Cooper executes an order he verbally outlined on Thursday temporarily blocking the 15-week ban passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

It’s unclear how long Florida Supreme Court conservatives will allow this injunction to stand.

Staff at two other clinics, one in Gainesville and the other in West Palm Beach, reported that patients are expressing concern, taking daily pregnancy tests, and/or seeking information about abortion drugs.

Peak Inquiries

Her clinic has seen an increase in inquiries about abortifacient drugs, which are approved for ending pregnancy up to 77 days after a woman’s last menstrual period, Feucht said. Although more readily available in other states, the drugs (mifepristone and misoprostol) can only be dispensed in Florida at clinics under the care of a physician.

Since April, Florida has imposed a waiting period requiring patients to make two visits: one for an evaluation and ultrasound, and another 24 hours later. Planned parenthood publishes guidelines for the use of these drugs.

Emergency contraceptive pills, to be taken within 72 hours of possible conception, are available in stores and online, but drugstore chains across the country such as CVS and Rite-Aid reported this week that demand is high and that the quantities are temporarily rationed, according to MedicineNet and other media.

Michael Jackson, president of the Florida Pharmacy Association, estimated that a dozen states are experiencing shortages of such supplies as Republican-led states crack down on abortion rights.

Pregnant women with the fewest resources will be hardest hit by Florida’s 15-week ban, the ongoing six-week ban in Georgia and strict limits on abortions in other southeastern states, a said Amber Gavin, vice president of A Woman’s Choice, an independent abortion provider. with clinics in Florida and North Carolina.

“People who already face barriers to accessing abortion earlier in pregnancy will suffer the most. It means people who are struggling to make ends meet, black people, people of color and young people,” Gavin said.

She condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the Florida Republican Legislature’s passage of a 15-week ban with no exceptions for rape or incest – solely to preserve the life or health of the mother or in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities – adding that dozens of Thousands of women each year have abortions after 15 weeks.

Nearest clinic in North Carolina

People need an abortion after 15 weeks for many reasons, including the need for time to save up for an abortion. The closest clinic to provide care after 15 weeks for Floridians will be hundreds of miles away in North Carolina, which means many people have to save not just for the procedure, but also for travel and childcare. said Gavin.

The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund actively helps women find abortion services they seek through partnerships in and out of state, said founding director Kelly Nelson.

“TBAF is preparing for this, and no callers will fall through the cracks while this is being worked out. We are scheduling our new out-of-state partner clinics and supporting all callers who need to travel today , tomorrow, next week and beyond,” Nelson said.

“Additionally, it is highly likely that the ban will go through several iterations and could be fully reinstated. At this point, abortion care after 15 weeks is not guaranteed in Florida. But we are committed to helping pregnant women who visit Tampa Bay area clinics from Florida or neighboring states, as well as travel from the out-of-state Tampa Bay area for prompt service.

The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund is supported by grants from Resist, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Network of Abortion Funds’ Collective Power Fund, the National Network of Abortion Funds’ Rapid Response/Emergency Relief, the Digital Defense Fund, the Tara Health Foundation and Jane’s Due Process.

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