When one of Idaho’s several new anti-abortion laws was being contested in court last month, the governor attempted to say that the matter was resolved.
Brad Little, governor of Idaho, stated that “our nation’s highest court restored the subject of abortion to the states to regulate.”
One of Little’s own constituents in Boise was ordering a cab and heading for Oregon at the same time the governor was trying to put the incident behind him. For a cost of $1,200, she was dropped off at a clinic in an office park in Bend, which is one of the few locations remaining where Idahoans may receive reproductive health care, more than 315 miles later.
That someone would do this—take a cab that far and at that price to have access to an abortion—is a product of the expanding, desperate “abortion tourism” business.
According to Anne Udall, director of Planned Parenthood in Oregon and southwest Washington, which operates the Bend clinic, “We are seeing patients from practically every Republican state in the country right now – Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Idaho, every state that has a prohibition.”
The anecdote of the $1,200 cab journey was first told by Udall. She did not provide any other information, citing patient privacy, other than to state that the cost will be reimbursed from a travel fund.
“Traveling a long way for medical attention or even abortion is not new (some states have long only had one or two reproductive health clinics, guaranteeing travel odysseys to get there). What has changed is that patients are now fleeing from the law.
When their state outlaws the surgery they require, in some cases making it a criminal, individuals feel alone, according to Katrina Kimport, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who spoke with hundreds of women who engaged in what she refers to as “forced abortion travel.”
She claims that this is distinct from, for instance, traveling for cancer treatments. “Travel forced by legal constraint” is what it is.
They believe that their own government is out to get them, she added.
Legislators in Idaho have heaped on every anti-abortion plan they can conjure up. They approved a law outlawing all abortions beginning with conception, making them illegal and subjecting the physicians to a minimum two-year prison sentence. Any abortion after the discovery of a fetal heartbeat was prohibited by a separate law that was approved. In a third system, a la Texas, relatives of the fetus can turn on the physicians and get a $20,000 prize.
This bounty scheme would “retraumatize” women, according to the governor of Idaho, who also confessed that it may inadvertently reward “the family members of rapists” with money (his words). Although he was up against a far-right, Donald Trump-backed opponent at the time, he incredibly nonetheless signed it into law.
According to Kimport, the reward system in particular might make women go there alone since they are too frightened to even ask a family member or acquaintance for a ride.
According to Kimport, “it’s plausible that this individual determined that paying a $1,200 cab fare was something this person decided was a clear and sensible choice to make given the limits facing her and the legal landscape in that state.” “These judgments have a time component and even an emergency. Therefore, the women I spoke with weren’t concerned about the distance or duration of their journey. Their main concern was that the clinics could reject them.
That may occur eventually. Eighty percent of the patients at a Pullman clinic are now from Idaho, double the proportion from the spring. The Boise patient had to wait two weeks at the Bend facility because wait times are getting longer.
On top of all of this, Republicans in Congress this week suggested prohibiting the federal government from providing assistance, such as travel expenses, to anybody traveling to receive an abortion.
Faced with an Eastern Oregon taxi journey costing $1,200? You are all by yourself. The post-Roe v. Wade legal climate in Idaho is “particularly harsh since it only applies to those who don’t have the wherewithal to find a way around it,” one critic said of it.
To combat this, charitable organizations like the Northwest Abortion Access Fund as well as the states of Washington and Oregon have increased funding to assist the travelers.
But the post-Roe dystopia is just beginning. In an effort to save patient travel time this summer, several organizations have started operating mobile abortion vans along red state borders, starting with Utah. It’s a brave attempt. However, it’s difficult to imagine a somber indictment on the status of women in America in 2022 than “go have your abortion in the van at the border.”
Kimport predicted that the available travel money wouldn’t be sufficient to fulfill the demand. Beyond that, the hardest expenses to measure are the emotional costs associated with situations like the $1,200 cab journey.
“It signals there is something you should be embarrassed about,” she added, “when your state restricts something and compels you to travel elsewhere to acquire it.”
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