Oklahoma Clinic Says Providers Can't Help Everyone Seeking Care After Texas Abortion Ban
On Sep. 1, Texas banned abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. Oklahoma is already seeing an uptick in women seeking care.
Kailey Voellinger is the clinic director at Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City. She said her facility typically helps a variety of patients.
“We serve a wide population. People from all walks of life: the homeless to the incarcerated, young people, women who have had five children and they’re 45.”
Voellinger said it’s the poor and disenfranchised who will suffer most from the ban.
“Really the types of people who are really truly harmed by this legislation are people who can’t take time off work, who don’t have a vehicle. I think a lot about our undocumented populations. Can they even travel out of their communities safely?”
Voellinger said the clinic is already booked for this month, and there’s no way it will be able to help everyone since it only has two operating rooms.
“We’re a small clinic. I have a staff of ten people, four of whom are part-time. We are not able to absorb the patients that are going to need these services.”
The clinic is looking at adding service, but most of the doctors travel and so appointments can be limited.
“We’re looking at expanding some dates but it’s really physician availability, staff availability.”
Even before the Texas law, people had been traveling to Oklahoma for care. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has a number of clinics but still had a waitlist. One reason is because in Texas, a woman has to wait 24 hours between her initial consultation and the procedure.
“So sometimes appointments were a week apart because that’s when the doctor was there. These types of barriers were already creating problems. They can’t wait a week for an appointment, then wait another week,” said Voellinger.
Texas clinics have also been gradually regulated out of existence. There used to be 40 clinics; now there’s about half that.
Voellinger said the reasons for the decline are complicated.
“I think it’s multi-faceted. There are many religious people who are pro-choice, who are supportive of reproductive justice. Some of the earliest people who worked in referrals, in the underground in abortions in the 60’s were Catholic priests.”
Voellinger said she’s worked in the field for ten years and still doesn’t understand all the reasons why a government would regulate abortion.
“I don’t really understand it myself and I don’t know that there is a good answer. I think a lot of it is about punishment and shame. I think it was George Carlin who said ‘they need live babies so they can have dead soldiers.’ A lot of it is about control and population. We need people to work in our factories and die in illegal wars.”
Oklahoma is facing its own set of abortion restrictions set to go into effect Nov. 1. The laws are being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and other groups.