Medical providers and organizers expect a ‘tidal wave’ of patients seeking abortion services
Nevada medical providers are already seeing an influx of patients from across the country seeking abortion services and are warning of a potential tidal wave that could sweep through Nevada’s healthcare system.
Adam Levy, medical provider at the Birth Control Care Center and director of planning for the OB-GYN department at the UNLV Women’s Health Center, said there are patients who have come to Nevada from as far away as Kentucky. since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade last month. .
Following the ruling, which set a nearly 50-year-old precedent that protected the constitutional right to abortion, several state bans on abortion went into effect, and more Republican-controlled legislatures are expected to pass more bills to prohibit access to abortion.
“At this time, the volume is not excessive at this point, but we are expecting a real tidal wave of patients requiring care,” Levy told Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee during a panel on Monday.
As abortion bans escalate and more patients seek out-of-state medical care, Levy said health services and funding in Nevada may be delayed.
“We have half the country coming our way,” he said. “Anyone who says otherwise has their head in the sand.”
Lee hosted a roundtable with medical providers and organizers with Planned Parenthood, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and the Nevada Chapter of the National Organization for Women to discuss the impact the court ruling will have on reproductive care in the state.
Lee said some predictions indicate that Nevada “is going to see a 63% increase” in people coming to the state for abortion services now that Roe has been overthrown. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization responsible for reproductive health policy, nearly 9,700 abortions were performed in Nevada in 2017, “although not all abortions that occurred in Nevada were provided to state residents. : Some patients may have traveled from other states, and some Nevada residents may have traveled to another state for
“We already have an overburdened healthcare system and a shortage of nurses and doctors,” Lee said. “It’s going to have an impact on women here in Nevada.”
Stakeholders said the shortage of resources among abortion providers will result in longer wait times and increased risk for pregnant women in need of an abortion.
“There will be longer wait times and more advanced gestation, especially for out-of-state patients, because they’re going to have a hard time getting here,” Levy said. “They’re going to suffer a lot more problems just to get the care they need.”
This will not only affect patients seeking elective abortion services.
Nadia Gomez, an obstetrician-gynecologist and president of the Women’s Health Center at UNLV, once had a patient from Texas who had to travel to Nevada “because she couldn’t terminate an ectopic pregnancy.”
Texas enacted its six-week abortion ban in 2021.
“I couldn’t understand that,” Gomez said. The leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester is a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
Monday’s discussion in Nevada unfolds against the backdrop of growing criticism of the Biden administration’s response to the decision.
“A lot of people are looking at the Biden administration and wanting it to be a little stronger,” Nevada NOW’s Jeri Burton said.
Burton added recent comments from the White House, which recently told reporters that President Biden’s goal “is not to satisfy some activists“, did not go well.
Although Biden recently signed a decree To preserve some access to abortion, Lee said the problem with executive orders is that they can change depending on who’s in the White House.
The House, Lee said, should pass legislation to expand abortion protections.
“The next shoe to fall are laws that prosecute providers and prohibit people from interstate travel,” Lee said. “We’ll deal with it in Washington when I get back.”
But abortion-rights legislation approved in the House won’t have enough votes in the Senate to circumvent a Republican filibuster.
Lee urged groups to vote in November to ensure Democrats retain the House and win additional Senate seats to reform the filibuster and pass abortion protections.
Nevada has laws protecting abortion access, but providers and organizations said more needs to be done at the local and state level to ensure people understand their rights and that those rights do not are not violated.
Levy tried to convince the Clark County District Attorney’s Office to investigate a crisis pregnancy center, located directly across from the birth control center, for lying to patients about abortion services.
“I argued with Clark County district attorneys trying to shut them down in terms of outright fraud,” Levy said. “There’s a lot of pushback from there.”
The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
In addition to patients seeking care, Gomez said abortion bans could also hurt the education of medical students.
“We’re going to see an influx of residents coming in,” she said. “These are people who have graduated from medical school and are training with us to be OB-GYN certified by the time they complete their four years. We are also going to have an influx of trainees who will also try to train in our clinics. »