(KTXL) — It has been three months since the constitutional right to an abortion was struck down by the Supreme Court.
Since then, California has worked to present itself as a haven for reproductive rights. Up and down the state, thousands of women from other parts of the country are coming here for help.
Governor Gavin Newsom is doubling down on the promise of a haven for reproductive refugees with billboards in seven states where abortion access is severely limited or eliminated.
The signs promote abortion.ca.gov, which includes a special section for people from out of state.
Women across the country have been taking California up on the offer, which is affecting reproductive and other kinds of health care throughout the state.
In California, the demand for reproductive services has grown since June 24, and California’s closest neighbor, Arizona, has had a dramatic shift in abortion availability.
Many people from out of state seeking abortion care are traveling on Highway 8, from Arizona into California. In the first few weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision, Planned Parenthood in California saw an 847% increase in patients coming from Arizona.
“We were forced to make the decision to pause abortions until there were legal clarities,” Brittany Fonteno the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said to FOX40 News.
Planned Parenthood Arizona had a pause in abortion services for two months after the fall of Roe v. Wade, as the group tried to understand whether the state’s previous abortion ban, dating back 150 years, would come back into effect.
“What we really focused on was patient navigation, making sure people in Arizona knew what their options were for safe and legal abortion in places where it remained very clear where abortion was legal, places like California,” Fonteno said.
For a majority of patients, their closest point of contact is about an hour across the state line at the Planned Parenthood in El Centro, California.
“As transportation commissioner for this county, I’m particularly concerned because I know that, given the far nooks of this particular county, it can take upwards of two hours to get to the health care center here in El Centro if you live in this county,” Raul Urena, mayor pro tem of Calexico, said to FOX40 News. “Now imagine someone without health care access, if you live in Arizona, Mexicali, here in Calexico.”
Urena is a former Planned Parenthood employee and current client. He told FOX40 News that he has seen the effect of higher demand for abortions affect his own healthcare access.
“I’ve noticed three weeks wait time, four weeks wait time,” Urena said.
To get screened for sexually transmitted diseases, months ago, the wait would be closer to one to two weeks.
“It definitely has doubled and reprioritized other patient visits, but understandably so, this is a crisis that we’re facing,” Urena said.
Arizona is currently the only state bordering California with particularly restrictive abortion access. But that doesn’t mean that only Southern California is feeling the impact of increased demand for services.
“We actually have a significant number of our out-of-state patients being serviced here in Sacramento,” Lauren Babb, of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said to FOX40 News.
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte covers Northern California, from the ocean to the Sierra Nevada.
“Every time I come in, there is someone from Alabama, there is someone from Texas, there is a person from out of state,” Babb said.
“We’re now seeing double the out-of-state patients, and we’re the largest affiliate in the county,” Babb said.
Babb says Planned Parenthood in the Sacramento area took steps to expand their hours and staff in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling, so they have so far managed to keep up with the needs of patients living in and out of the state. But in some cases, the care looks different.
“Can this be a telehealth appointment instead, so we have an exam room for out-of-state patients, can we triage more so they’re coming in just to pick up the medications that they need,” Babb said.
Babb said that out-of-state patients often come with tricky logistics, many attempting to fly in and out on the same day.
“What keeps us up at night is the people who don’t come through. There are so many people who don’t have resources, don’t have money for travel,” Babb said.
It is a need Babb suspects is only going to get worse as more states work to eliminate or more severely restrict the care California is inviting people to get.