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Planned Parenthood centers in Florida prepare for a six-week abortion ban

Exam room at a Planned Parenthood clinic
Colin Abbey
Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida
Patients often have to wait 4-5 weeks for an appointment at Planned Parenthood's Tallahassee health center due to increased demand, officials said.

Health centers are trying to accommodate as many patients seeking abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy as they can before the ban goes into effect May 1. After that, most people will have to travel out-of-state for care.

Planned Parenthood officials in Florida say they've been preparing for months for the possibility of a six-week abortion ban. Now that the Florida Supreme Court has upheld the current 15-week ban, the increased abortion restrictions will kick in on May 1.

Staff members are devastated about the court’s decision, but not surprised, according to Michelle Quesada, vice president of communications and marketing for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida.

Patient navigators have been working to strengthen partnerships with health centers in states where abortion is more accessible so they can refer people who need to travel for care.

Things are even busier with the ruling.

“Making sure we have all the right people in place with scheduling, making sure we can fit as many patients in as possible,” said Quesada. “Education is the biggest part really, just making sure Floridians are educated about what’s about to happen come May 1.”

A six-week abortion ban essentially cuts off abortion access in Florida, Quesada argued, as most people don’t realize they are pregnant by then. Those who can’t travel out-of-state for the procedure for financial or other reasons will feel the effects the most.

“You're going to see people forced to carry pregnancies against their will and sometimes this subjects them to life-altering or life-threatening consequences depending on their health issues,” said Quesada.

The ban includes exceptions for rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormalities, or if the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Planned Parenthood will continue to provide abortion care in compliance with state law, Quesada stressed.

Opponents of abortion rights celebrated the court’s decision to uphold the 15-week ban, allowing the six-week ban to move forward.

In a news release, Katie Daniel, a state policy director with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America called the decision a “victory for unborn children.”

In a separate ruling, the court allowed a proposed constitutional amendment to protect abortion access until fetal viability to remain on Florida’s November ballot, giving voters a chance to decide the future of reproductive rights in the state.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.