If/When Roe is reversed, our state legislators and Governor are poised to make it virtually impossible to have a safe and legal abortion in our state. If this happens, patients seeking abortion care will be faced with the decision of whether to travel to another state to receive care or stay at home and undertake some form of diy abortion. In this discussion we will focus on access to abortion care by traveling to another state.
For those of you who are considering traveling by plane, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) has resources for patients who may need to travel by air for their abortion. For most of our patient demographic, travel by air is not an option so we will limit this discussion to abortion options that are reachable by car.
A “sanctuary state” is one in which the abortion laws are liberal enough to allow patients from other states to receive abortion care there. California and New Mexico, our neighbors to the west and east respectively, are both sanctuary states making them the most accessible destinations for southern Arizonans.
When considering where you should go for care, safety and quality of care are just as important as proximity. NAF as well as Planned Parenthood have stringent quality standards for membership. We believe that it would be wise to limit yourself to clinics that are members and or accredited by one or both organizations.
Taking both geography and accreditation status into account, the closest cluster of clinics to the West is in El Centro CA via Interstate 8. The closest cluster to the east is in Las Cruces New Mexico via Interstate 10 to the west. Both destinations are about 4 ½ hours away by car. There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to go east or west. For example, knowing someone in the destination city, or getting a referral from someone who has been there before. After driving to both cities, our preference was for Las Cruces because there were more places along I-10 to stop in case of an emergency. Obviously, you will need to decide based on your own criteria.
If you choose to travel to a health center in another state, then (depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy) you could have either an abortion by pill or an in-clinic (d and c/suction procedure). The upside of the in-clinic abortion is that it is more of a sure thing with less to worry about in the aftermath. The downside is that traveling long distances to and from a surgical procedure can be tricky and may logistically require an overnight stay. The upside of traveling out of state to a facility for the abortion pill is that it is legal (for now) and allows patients to be more confident that the pill they are taking is real. Receiving pills by mail in Arizona poses legal issues and authenticity may be a problem (if not now, then possibly in the future).
In the meantime, we ask our patients to consider their options very carefully and, above all, be careful out there.
The staff of Choices Women’s Center