After court ruling, US doctors request licenses in other states to continue offering abortion services

Jennifer Kerns, a physician from California, will soon be serving nearly 3,000 miles away in an abortion clinic in Kansaswhere women from nearby states in the Midwest with bans on the procedure are expected to seek care.

Providers and abortion clinics say Kerns is among dozens of doctors who recently applied for new medical licenses in states where abortion could remain legalanticipating Friday’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court to end recognition of a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

“We felt this was part of our responsibility: provide services in a place where they are really neededsaid Kerns, a surgeon who teaches and practices at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. He plans to fly to Wichita, Kansas, when his schedule allows.

Adding out-of-state doctors is just one of the steps abortion clinics are taking as they face an uncertain landscape in which access to abortion will be decided on a state-by-state basis, threatening to close some clinics and forcing those that remain with more patients.

In some cases, clinics are relocating to nearby states that are likely to protect abortion rights.

Others are developing legal strategies to get around restrictions and helping people identify how to obtain abortions in different states. And at clinics in states like California, where women are likely to travel for the procedure, preparations are underway to add services and staff.

Photo: Reuters

More than half of the states in the country could soon have laws that ban or severely restrict abortion following Friday’s ruling.

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Thirteen states already have so-called trigger laws, or abortion bans that go into effect quickly. after federal protections are removedaccording to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

In North Dakota, which has an activation law, Tammi Kromenaker is working to open a new abortion center across the border in Minnesota.

Kromenaker, who has run North Dakota’s only abortion clinic, Red River Clinic, for 24 years, said two of the clinic’s doctors are already licensed in Minnesota and a third is working toward a license there.

We are committed to this service, but we should not have to bow downalter ourselves in all these different ways and meet all these very complex challenges in this way,” Kromenaker said.

In other states with activation laws, clinics are already in the process of stopping abortions. Even before the Roe vs. Wade decision, a statewide ban in Oklahoma forced clinics to stop taking appointments for the procedure.

Clinics run by Planned Parenthood in Utah, another state with an activation law, said they will stay open as long as possible, with hoping to use the legal system to delay or overturn bans passed by lawmakers.

Lawyers representing abortion providers are rallying around a plan to argue that privacy and equal protection rights in many state constitutions protect abortion without explicitly saying so.

“We have no intention of saying right away that this is the end of the road.”said Julie Burkhart, president of Wellspring Health Access, who plans to open a clinic in conservative Wyoming, arguing that the state constitution’s emphasis on liberty protects abortion rights.

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The strategy, said Cary Franklin, faculty director at the Center for Reproductive Health, Law and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, is to establish, whenever possible, that abortion is a state right, even if the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not a protected federal right.

The legal strategy is already being tested in Pennsylvania, where the Women’s Law Project is arguing in court that the state constitution protects abortion rights, even as Conservative lawmakers back an amendment to ban itsaid Amal Bass, director of policy and advocacy.

Photo: Reuters

In Kansas, where the state’s supreme court has already ruled that an abortion right exists in its constitution, advocates estimate that even if voters pass a new amendment banning abortion in August, they have about a year to avoid restrictions on abortion. through legal appeals.

Kerns’ new Kansas license is his second in less than a year. She was previously licensed in Oklahoma, providing abortions to women fleeing restrictions in neighboring Texas until Oklahoma enacted its own ban last month.

What if Kansas also bans abortion?

“All those people would have to come to Colorado or New Mexico,” he said. “I would get a license in those states”he declared.

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