LUBBOCK, Texas — Just over a month ago, Texas’ new abortion law, SB8, went into effect, banning abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy
“It started affecting our clinics immediately after it was passed,” said vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Kristina Tocce.
SB8 is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, and abortion providers in surrounding states like New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado are even feeling the strain of this new law.
“We have appointments that are scheduled out two, even three weeks because of the demand on our services,” said Interim President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains, Emily Wales.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains runs clinics in states that include Oklahoma, and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains runs clinics in Colorado, New Mexico, and southern Nevada.
PPGP said hundreds of patients from Texas have come to clinics in Oklahoma, while PPRM says the number of patients they’ve seen from Texas has risen 130%.
“The numbers are big, but for what the real human impact is, I think we are seeing more patients than ever before who are coming hours for care, who are planning overnight trips, who are taking time off work, and the strain on them is very apparent,” said Wales.
Traveling to different states means different laws come into effect.
“Oklahoma still has hurdles you have to get through at the state level to get care that you deserve,” said Wales.
Oklahoma has a 72 waiting period before someone can receive an abortion. PPGP said that could mean patients coming from Texas would have to take days off work in order to receive an abortion.
New Mexico and Colorado don’t have any waiting period requirements, but PPRM said they’ve had patients drive 16 hours in one day or fly in and out the same day they receive the abortion.
“It’s really horrible for our patients,” said Tocce. ” This has made obtaining basic medical care for our Texas neighbors. It’s just been so challenging. I don’t even know how to stress that enough.”
The staff at these clinics also feeling the strain of this surge in patients.
“We tried to prepare we tried to have staff on hand ready, but it is it’s a difficult thing to be prepared for a very quick influx of patients,” said Wales.
Clinics in Oklahoma even opened more appointments for abortions and added extra staff to deal with the number of new patients.
But despite the challenge, Planned Parenthood said they would not give up fighting.
“We are going to do everything we can to accommodate as many patients as possible,” said Tocce.