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Washington sees influx of abortion patients as new Idaho law takes effect

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho says nearly 8 in 10 patients visiting Pullman's Planned Parenthood clinic in July were from Idaho.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Paul Dillon with Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho says clinics across Washington stand ready to support Idahoans in need of an abortion.

"We're doing everything we can to make sure patients in Idaho can get care and have access to all the services they need," Dillon said.

Abortion providers in Washington have already seen more out of state visitors.

"We're starting to see more patients from across the country," Dillon said. "We've seen patients from Texas, we've seen patients from Florida."

This July, Dillon says nearly 8 in 10 patients visiting Pullman's Planned Parenthood clinic were from Idaho. Abortion clinics across Washington are expecting a lot more.

"We have been hiring more providers," Dillon said. "We have hired what's called a patient navigator and our patient navigator is talking to all patients out of state directly and so they are handling all the calls. If they need to book a hotel room, if they need help with transportation, they're helping take care of that." 

Beginning Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, Idaho will make it illegal to get an abortion after six weeks or whenever a heartbeat is detected. Then, on Aug. 25, an even stricter, statewide abortion ban goes into effect.

"It's really frustrating to see these laws passed," Dillon said.

There are exceptions for rape, incest and if the mother's life is at risk. Rape and incest victims seeking an abortion will have to file a police report.

The Department of Justice has brought a lawsuit against the state, saying Idaho's abortion law is in violation of the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which states that patients cannot be turned away or denied care until they are stabilized. 

The lawsuit says in some cases, life saving care may include an abortion, like when a woman is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or other complications.

"Idaho's law would make it a criminal offense for doctors to provide the emergency medical treatment that federal law requires," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said. "Idaho law provides an exception to prevent the death of a pregnant woman. It includes no exception for cases in which the abortion is necessary to prevent serious jeopardy to the woman's health."

Planned Parenthood is also suing the state of Idaho. Despite these ongoing lawsuits, the state Supreme Court declined to pause the abortion ban, saying it can move forward.

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