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Women seeking abortions outside Florida on the rise since 6-week ban implemented

The majority of women in this region going out of state for an abortion are going to North Carolina, the closest state that has a 12-week ban in place.
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 09, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida says it has navigated more than 330 women out of state to receive abortion care since the six-week ban took effect on May 1 in Florida.

Michelle Quesada, vice president of communications, brand & marketing for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida says the past two months have been challenging as women weigh their choices following the state's new restrictions at six weeks.

"The words I keep hearing from our providers and nurse practitioners are 'Moral distress is what they're feeling'," Quesada said.

It's a point before some women realize they're pregnant. Quesada says the majority of patients coming in for abortion services still don't realize the restrictions that are now in place in Florida. She says many are shocked to learn not only how far along they are in their pregnancy but that they'd have to leave the state for abortion care.

"There are many patients that once they get the news, they need time to process, they may go back and think about what their options are if they want to travel to another state or if they have family in another state that has access," Quesada said.

Protesters of the six-week abortion ban voice their opposition at a rally in Tallahassee on April 13, 2023.

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The majority of women in this region are going to North Carolina, the closest state that has a 12 week ban in place. Quesada says others go to Virginia or northern states like New York.

An additional 50 women a week, she says, are navigating the journey to states on their own. It's a big change from what Planned Parenthood was doing before the May 1 change in Florida law.

"The majority of patients we were helping with patient navigation were coming from other states in the south to Florida," she said. "We were not navigating nearly as many Floridians, it was very rare that we would navigate Floridians that were beyond 15 weeks to other states."

Mat Staver is the founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, and he too says he's seen a change since May, praising the ban's impact.

"I believe a lot of babies have been saved and will be saved since then," Staver said. "Florida is thriving and I think it will thrive even more when we continue this road of protecting the sanctity of human life."

According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, there have been over 36,000 abortions in the state of Florida so far this year, with over 2,000 of those being in Palm Beach County. In 2023, there were almost 85,000 abortions in Florida with over 5,000 of them in Palm Beach County.