Dr. D. has never had as much work as she does now. The abortion clinic where she practices, in Jacksonville, Florida, is overwhelmed by the arrival of patients from neighboring states, since they strongly restricted the voluntary interruption of pregnancy taking advantage of a controversial decision of the US Supreme Court.
“Before I saw about 25 patients on a typical work day, now I see about 45. There is a lot of demand,” laments this doctor who prefers to remain anonymous for fear of receiving threats from anti-abortion militants.
Despite the fact that she reduced the term for abortion from 24 to 15 weeks in July, Florida is now one of the most permissive places to interrupt pregnancy in the southeastern United States.
Around it, other states with a conservative majority such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia have almost completely banned this practice or reduced its term to six weeks, after the Supreme Court annulled the right to abort at the federal level on June 24. .
That decision has led numerous women to travel to clinics in Florida, including the center where Dr. D. works, owned by the NGO Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of reproductive services in the country.
“We’re in a desperate situation. I would call it a public health emergency,” says Laura Goodhue, executive director of that organization’s affiliate alliance in Florida.
Planned Parenthood has been forced to open its doors on weekends and extend its work hours, with 12-hour days at some of its clinics, in the face of an increase in patients from out of state, mostly women from Georgia, Alabama and Texas.
He also wants to hire nine more doctors, many of whom will be traveling to Florida a couple of days a week from those neighboring states where they can no longer work, Goodhue explains.
In the kitchen of the Jacksonville clinic, Dr. D. rests between patient and patient. Her work has allowed her to observe firsthand some of the consequences of abortion restrictions in the southeastern United States.
“It’s very disheartening to see all this,” says the 33-year-old doctor.
Numerous obstacles in other US states
Out-of-state patients have to take several days off work, since Florida’s new law requires a woman to have two appointments at least 24 hours apart before having an abortion, she explains.
They must also find a way to travel and stay in the state, and sometimes find someone to take care of their children.
A series of obstacles to which is now added the reduction of the legal term to have an abortion in Florida.
“Unfortunately, if we do an ultrasound and we see that they are more than 15 weeks, we can not help them and we have to give them resources to go to other states. And that further prolongs their journey to get this essential health care, “explains the doctor d
Some 280 miles south of Jacksonville, at the Planned Parenthood clinic in West Palm Beach, Jasmine (a pseudonym) is about to have a surgical abortion.
She is 23 years old and became pregnant after she broke the condom of the boy she had been dating for three months. The morning after pill she ordered online arrived too late.
She hesitated a lot before going, but she preferred to abort in order to finish her university studies. “I know it’s what’s best for me, even though it’s a tough decision,” she says. “One night of error does not have to lead to a permanent life change,” she justified.
Jasmine lives in Florida and cannot imagine the experience of those who travel from another state to have an abortion. But she has suffered the doubts and stress generated by the decision of the Supreme Court.
“In Florida, you have up to 15 weeks, and that could have changed at any time, like in the other states. It was a lot of crying and a lot of nervousness,” she recalls.