Minnesota abortion clinics overwhelmed as states prohibit access


Hazel Waltenbaugh

IN LEGAL TERMS. Though Minnesota laws make abortion legal, this is only the case before a certain number of weeks.

That is the number of states where abortion is fully banned.
The number of states where abortion is legal, without future uncertainty is less than half of states.
Within these 25 states, nine do not allow the use of state funds for abortions in most cases.
As laws restricting abortion have been enforced around the U.S. after the overturn of Roe v Wade, the Minnesota Supreme Court has recognized the right to abortion under the Minnesota Constitution, making it an outlet for out-of-state patients.
Women in need seek help over state lines, leaving Minnesota clinics overwhelmed with patients.
“We have seen wait times increase for abortion, but there’s only so long that patients can wait for abortion care,” according to Emily Bisek, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Planned Parenthood North Central States. “Wait times fluctuate depending on the service and location. In Minnesota, it’s anywhere from a five to 10-day wait for an abortion appointment.”
Numbers matter as pregnancies advance.

“The wait list isn’t going to grow because people can’t wait that much longer for abortion care; they might just decide to go somewhere else,” Bisek said.
Clinics in Minnesota’s surrounding states, such as Wisconsin and South Dakota, have halted abortions after pre-Roe legislation and new mandates made the procedure illegal.
In states like North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, abortions are illegal after 22 weeks as of right now, but bills going through legislation that restrict rights are expected to pass.
According Bisek, Planned Parenthood clinics have seen a 13% patient increase since the overturn and a 40% increase in second-trimester abortions. The rise in second-trimester abortions can most likely be accredited to the additional travel that is necessary for some patients to get an abortion.
It also may have to do with the fact that there are fewer clinics available to perform abortions.
There are 18 Planned Parenthood clinics statewide, plus a few independent health centers. In total, there are nine clinics where abortions, either by surgery or medication, are carried out, four of which are Planned Parenthood. Most clinics that offer abortion services are located in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs.
Although out-of-state patients do make appointments harder to get, Minnesota patients still have the advantage of options.
“There are abortion appointments via telehealth available to patients in Minnesota. So even in Iowa and Nebraska, where abortion is legal, telehealth by mail programs is illegal. In order to get an abortion in Iowa and Nebraska, you have to be in person. Whereas, if a patient lives in Minnesota and has a Minnesota mailing address, they’re eligible to have the abortion pill mailed to their house,” Bisek said.

We have seen wait times increase for abortion, but there’s only so long that patients can wait for abortion care.”

— Emily Bisek

An important part of the Planned Parenthood initiative is increasing accessibility in Minnesota.
“One of the things that we are implementing is expanding the staff who provides medication abortion. This summer, there was a case that came down and eliminated most of the abortion restrictions in Minnesota. One of the restrictions that was eliminated was requiring that only physicians could provide abortion,” Bisek said. “So now we have more healthcare staff who can provide abortion care and that drastically helps with the coverage.”
Collecting information is key.
“We are looking into the data of our patients and our care to understand what is happening on the ground so that we can figure out the best strategies to provide care for patients,” she said.
The results of the November elections were crucial for women’s health Minnesota. There is a pro-choice majority in the Minnesota House and Senate and the state has re-elected a pro-choice governor, which points to rights remaining as they are.

WHERE I STAND. Four students share their opinions on contrasting sides of the abortion debate. (Rubicon Staff)