Colorado’s abortion clinics have been adjusting to higher demand since the end of Roe v. Wade more than a year-and-a-half ago, expanding their services to meet the needs of local and the increased numbers of out-of-state patients.
At the peak, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the right to an abortion nationwide, about 40% of patients seeking abortions in Colorado were from out of state, said Fawn Bolak, regional director of communications at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Last year, the average dropped to about 35% as patients learned more about their options for care in states closer to their homes, she said.
“This is our new normal,” Bolak said.
Most patients in the region who are seeking care from out of state come from Texas, which bans abortions except to save a mother’s life, so New Mexico is an easier drive, sometimes with shorter wait times now that some Texan providers have moved across the border, Bolak said.
Right after the Supreme Court ruling, patients seeking abortion at Planned Parenthood’s 12 Colorado clinics had to wait about 28 days for an appointment, but now a more typical wait is five to eight days, she said.
Outside of Planned Parenthood, five other clinics offer abortion services in Colorado.
“If you’re a patient that’s seeking time-sensitive care, (a four-week wait) can be scary,” Bolak said.
The numbers started climbing even before the Dobbs decision, after Texas passed Senate Bill 8 banning abortions after five weeks of pregnancy in 2021, Bolak said. Since then, the number of patients receiving abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado has gone up 26%, she said.
Planned Parenthood reduced the waiting time by training more providers to offer abortions, designating a team to help out-of-state patients make arrangements and by moving some appointments, such as consultations with patients seeking birth control, to telehealth, Bolak said.
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