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NC abortion providers see increase in out-of-state patients following Roe reversal


As states further restrict abortion access, North Carolina has become a critical access point for reproductive care in the South.

Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic has seen the number of out-of-state patients accessing abortion care at their N.C. health centers more than triple.

Georgia has banned abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, and Tennessee has completely banned abortion. 

People travel from these and other neighboring states to seek abortion care in N.C., but patients have come from as far as Missouri, Louisiana and Texas, according to Amber Gavin, the vice president of advocacy and operations for A Woman’s Choice, Inc.

“We know that abortion is healthcare. We know that abortion is going to be needed no matter what," Gavin said. "And we are here to provide that care and we are here to fight for that care as long as we possibly can."

In August, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr. reinstated N.C’s 20-week abortion ban. 

“It’s a confusing and scary time for patients and providers,” Molly Rivera, the communications director of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said. “Throughout the medical community, there’s a lot of confusion and frustration about what medical providers can and cannot do in the realm of reproductive healthcare.”

Carolina Abortion Fund Director of Engagement Justine, who requested The Daily Tar Heel only use her first name due to safety concerns, said the Carolinas are the most Southeastern states providing care up to 21 weeks.

Even though Virginia bans abortion later — after 26 weeks of pregnancy — the Carolinas are more accessible for many southern states.

Abortion affordability

Just because abortion is still legal in N.C. does not mean it is necessarily accessible, Justine said.

“When we’re talking about the impact of abortion bans, it really is falling hardest on people with low income,” Rivera said. “It’s falling hardest on people who lack access to healthcare in general, and we know that that is often communities of color, people of color, because of historic and systemic barriers to accessing just basic primary care, never mind reproductive health care.”

CAF provides financial aid to people accessing abortions in North and South Carolina, no matter what state they are coming from. The nonprofit directly pledges money to the patient’s abortion clinic and helps connect them with additional funding for outside expenses if needed.

Since the Dobbs decision, Justine said that CAF has seen a sharp increase in calls requesting funding.

“On a typical week prior to Dobbs, we were getting around 50 calls a week, which is still a tremendous number, truly,” she said. “But in the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen closer to 80 or 90 calls, and that is a huge jump, considering that we are also unable to fully fund every caller that gets in touch.”

In N.C., the average abortion pill costs $360. A surgical abortion can cost anywhere between $340 and $1,400 depending on the type of procedure and number of weeks of pregnancy.

People seeking abortions have to consider these costs alongside the cost of gas or airfare, travel, lodging, childcare and missing work for one or more days, Gavin said.

“Now we’re seeing the costs of accessing care exasperated, especially for folks who are traveling from out of state or even within North Carolina,” she said.

According to Rivera, more than half of the recent patients at Planned Parenthood’s Asheville Health Center have traveled from out of state.

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Abortion legislation and education

People seeking an abortion in N.C. are required by law to get counseling from their abortion provider 72 hours before their abortion, which prolongs the wait before accessing care. 

Additionally, people under the age of 18 need permission from a parent or guardian to get an abortion. They have the option of bringing it to a judge for a judicial bypass if it is not possible to get parental approval.

Getting access to an abortion can also be complicated by a lack of information and guidance through the legal processes.

NC Teens For Abortion Access fundraises for CAF and provides information and news about abortion access in N.C. through their social media account.

“We want to be able to educate others because we want to help people develop their own opinions on abortion access,” Caroline Zhou, a senior at Chapel Hill High School and member of the organization, said. “That’s why we’re providing them with this information.”

Because the members of NC Teens for Abortion Access are still minors, Zhou, along with fellow members Ruoyan Chen from East Chapel Hill High School and Tanvi Gaur from CHHS, said they want to do what they can to advocate for abortion access until they can vote. 

The upcoming Nov. 8 midterm elections will be important for abortion rights, Rivera said, so knowing who is running for office and their stance on abortion is important for voters who care about abortion access.


@DTHCityState | 

Eliza Benbow

Eliza Benbow is the 2023-24 lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer university editor. Eliza is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and creative writing, with a minor in Hispanic studies.

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