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How can Idahoans seek abortion care amid changing laws?

Idaho's abortion laws are set to change Friday, creating questions for Idahoans who may seek an abortion in the future.

BOISE, Idaho — Abortion care in Idaho is set to significantly change, the first of two abortion bans go into effect this week. With Idaho's Supreme Court ruling late last week, doctors who provide an abortion can be civilly liable for doing so after six weeks of pregnancy. Beginning Friday, providers can be held criminally liable. So, Idahoans seeking an abortion will need to evaluate their options for care, likely outside the state.

“Our advice is to contact them here or contact us. Call us. Come in,” said Dr. Erin Berry, Medical Director for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky.

Despite changing laws, Berry says Planned Parenthood still offers some care in Idaho.

“We are still seeing patients for pregnancy evaluation visits so we can help determine how far along you are and get any required laboratory testing or medical history,” Berry said.

There are specific scenarios where Idaho providers can do abortion care, but there are cases that will not qualify for medical or legal exceptions. In cases that are not covered under the exception in Idaho law, Dr. Berry says staff in Idaho will help navigate the potentially complicated situation of getting care outside the Gem State.

“And then we can help either take care of you in Idaho for the short period of time that we can, or we can help warm handoff and get you to the services that you need to get out of state locations. So, we are here standing by to be there for our patients,” Berry said.  

So, what could travel look like for Idahoans who need an abortion outside the state?

Planned Parenthood in Walla Walla and Pullman Washington are the closest providers outside of Idaho, they offer abortion pills which are effective up to 11 weeks. The nearest in-clinic abortion care is in Kennewick, Washington a 230 mile drive from the Boise area, about 5 hours away.

Advocates like Planned Parenthood have spoken out for weeks trying to answer community questions on abortion care. While there isn’t one answer to all questions and specifics, Berry said there is a common answer to getting help.

“Call us, we have a patient access center which is a multiple person staff, we have a call center to field questions and to help navigate people. We also, as part of the call center, have specific patient navigators for patients who are seeking abortion care to help bring them get them appointments, help determine what location is best for them across the country, where they can get the care that they need. So, a phone call is really the best at this time,” Berry said.

Medical care can be very costly, creating another barrier for some Idahoans that may seek abortion care. Dr. Berry says Planned Parenthood has resources for those in need.

“We have funds from several different locations that we're helping connect patients to funding sources so that they can get the resources that they need in order to seek the health care that they deserve,” Berry said.

Planned Parenthood says they also have resources and care for Idaho women who do go seek abortion care in another state.

“Also, here for patients who if they travel out of state for abortion and have post-abortion care, follow up questions or concerns or needs, we are here. We are open for you. We are also here for miscarriage management,” Berry said.

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