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Oregon prepares for out of state abortion patients after Idaho bill passed

In less than a month, women in Idaho will have to look out of state to seek abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Neighboring states are preparing for an influx.

BOISE, Idaho — Abortion providers in Oregon are bracing for a potential influx in women coming from Idaho seeking abortion services.

"I have seen plenty of patients from Idaho who have sought abortion care in Oregon,” said Mark Nichols, a Doctor of Medicine and professor at the department of OBGYN at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).

According to Nichols, right now Oregon provides about 6,000 abortions every year, ten percent of them are done on patients from out of state. He anticipates that the number of out-of-state patients seeking abortions in Oregon will rise once SB 1309, which bans most abortions in Idaho after six weeks, goes into effect.

"The closest clinic for folks in Idaho is a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bend, Oregon and that's about 250 miles from Boise, so women will be facing a 500-mile round trip adventure to come to get abortion care in Oregon,” Nichols said.

He adds,  that when women face unplanned, undesired pregnancies are going to turn to OHSU for help. While planning is still in the early phases, Nichols said OHSU and Planned Parenthood have plans to meet increased demands.

"I do know that plans are being developed to provide services closer to the border, either directly in person or even across state lines via telemedicine,” Nichols said.

He added that mobile vans are a possibility along with looking at medical office buildings that are closer to the border. Nichols said that 70 percent of abortions in Oregon are done by FDA-approved medications. The medications can either be picked up in person or mailed to patients by a licensed professional. However, according to Planned Parenthood's legal team, a provider from out of state cannot mail abortion medicine into the state, because they are subject to Idaho law. However, Idahoans seeking abortions can still drive into Oregon to receive the medication.

“There’s an evaluation that has to happen with patients to confirm that they are of a gestational age where this service can be provided, that involves generally an ultrasound but that can be obtained in Idaho,” Nichols said.

He said 10 to 15 percent of patients are beyond the point of being able to take medicine for an abortion.

"Those kinds of patients will need more complicated care and right now that is going to require a trip to Bend [Oregon]," Nichols said.

Whether it's more clinics near Idaho’s border or expanding telemedicine services, Nichols said OHSU and Planned Parenthood plan meets the demand for women in Idaho seeking abortions after six weeks.

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