‘A greater sense of urgency’: 12-week abortion ban inhibits, exhausts healthcare providers
Hales said the in-person consultation has created a strain on staff because it doubles the amount of appointments and reduces the number of patients.
“You wonder if the intent was to not only decrease the amount of procedures but also to burn out providers to the limit of no return,” she said.
Molly Rivera, the communications director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said that though Planned Parenthood staff is familiar with attacks on the services they provide, it can be difficult to stay resilient.
Rivera said Planned Parenthood South Atlantic clinic staff have been working hard to help patients understand the additional in-person appointments and increased paperwork. The organization’s teams of “patient navigators,” who work with patients one-on-one, were added in preparation of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and have been expanded over the last year, she said.
She said people are more familiar with the 12-week ban than the new appointment requirements.
“We hear from a lot of frustrated and, frankly, angry patients that have to dramatically reconfigure their life in order to make these appointments and make them on time before the 12-week cut off,” she said.
Rivera also said some patients have said the in-person counseling requirement is too significant a barrier and that they may choose to travel out of state to avoid having to go multiple times in person.
Some clinics in North Carolina are attempting to accommodate patients from other states, which means longer wait times for patients who want to receive abortion care before 12 weeks of pregnancy, Hales said. She said this is not only a burden on patients but also providers.
“It’s really like trial by fire. It’s very much hit or miss. It’s very much fake it ’til you make it and figure out the best way possible,” she said.
She added that now, at the end of the year, her clinics have been able to find good rhythms and a solid workflow after the state’s policy changes.
Wallace said reproductive healthcare’s restrictive environment is a stark contrast to other areas of medicine. She said a large part of the national community has begun to understand that abortion is necessary healthcare and she remains hopeful.
“There’s so much work to be done, and we really need not just the entire medical community, but folks across the state to really stand up and advocate for that, because we have a long road ahead of us to regain these losses,” she said.
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Lucy Marques is a 2023-24 assistant city & state editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She was previously a city & state senior writer. Lucy is a junior pursuing a double major in political science and Hispanic literatures and cultures.