Abortion limits in Arizona put pressure on clinics in Southern California

Paul Sisson, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Political News

SAN DIEGO — Suspension of most abortions in Arizona is already putting significant pressure on medical clinics in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties.

Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, which operates 19 health centers in those three counties, said Wednesday that Arizona women have scheduled 175 appointments at its various locations since the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years.

It’s a massive increase given that just 13 abortions were scheduled by Arizona women during the corresponding four-day period one week earlier.

The influx of appointments from Arizona has increased the overall number of abortions to be performed by the Planned Parenthood Southwest clinics by 77%.

Dr. Antoinette Marengo, Planned Parenthood Southwest’s medical director, said the bulk of appointments made so far have been for termination of pregnancies using medication rather than an outpatient surgical procedure called a vacuum aspiration. Medication is generally effective within the first 11 weeks of pregnancy.

Some, the physician said, are starting to arrive without appointments. One woman, she said, arrived at a local clinic close to the San Diego International Airport from Arizona.


“She had done all of her research and looked at abortion clinics that could serve her closest to an airport,” Marengo said. “She came very humbly and said, ‘I understand that I have the means to travel by air, I’m able to take the time off work, I’m able to pay for this abortion, and I see the gravity of knowing that so many folks don’t have that option.’”

While it is not yet clear how Arizona will ultimately respond to the Roe v. Wade ruling — legislators are attempting to decide which of the state’s two antiabortion laws on the books will take precedence — the increase in demand in California is likely to continue and will have some unavoidable effect on the wide range of other reproductive healthcare services that Planned Parenthood offers, Marengo said.

“We know that there will be longer wait times and impact in other areas of the care that we provide every day,” Marengo said.

Some are focused on supporting those who choose to come to San Diego County seeking an abortion unavailable in other states.


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