Colorado abortion providers and their supporters are seeing an increasing number of women from Texas after a strict law banning the procedure in their home state took effect last week.
The majority of new patients contacting Cobalt in the last week are from Texas, said a spokeswoman for the Colorado organization that advocates for abortion access and provides financial assistance to help cover patients' costs.
"We’re getting a lot of requests, people asking what can they do to help with this situation in Texas," said Laura Chapin, a communications consultant with Cobalt.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told Colorado Politics that as of Tuesday, around 20 women from Texas had scheduled abortions at the group's clinics in Colorado and New Mexico and added that the number was "steadily rising."
"They are coming to us from a variety of cities in Texas, including (but not limited to) Lubbock, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Midland," Whitney Phillips, the nonprofit's vice president of brand experience, said in an email.
"We've been preparing for this in the Rocky Mountains for some time, as this isn't the first time Texas has launched political attacks on reproductive health care and we've experienced an influx," she said.
The Texas law bans abortions at around six weeks, typically before many women know they're pregnant. It allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in helping someone obtain an abortion, a novel approach to enforcement that anti-abortion advocates say could change the way restrictive abortion laws are crafted. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to stand on on Sept. 2 in a 5-4 vote.
Cobalt has seen an influx of out-of-state patients seeking abortions in Colorado in recent months, said Karen Middleton, its president.
"We sounded the alarm a few weeks ago when we saw this was coming down the pike, so we do know that providers here are aware of it and have been preparing to add capacity," Chapin said.
She said Cobalt has been gearing up to raise additional money for a fund the group administers to cover the cost of the procedure and any associated travel. The group anticipates spending around $250,000 this year, Chapin noted, up from the roughly $200,000 it spent last year assisting 1,150 patients.
"That goal may be increased based on what’s happening in Texas," she said.
"We want to help people who need help, so we will respond accordingly. This will definitely be an ongoing issue."
Phillips said the increase in patients from Texas is similar to the point last year when the number of that state's residents seeking care in neighboring states increased 12-fold after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott halted the procedure for nearly a month during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Here in the Rocky Mountains, we've seen this dynamic in action before," Phillips said in a statement. "Texas has enacted 25 abortion restrictions in the past decade, and in that time the number of health centers providing abortion care in that state was reduced by half, which resulted in patients traveling out-of-state, and often to our nearby Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain health centers, for care."
Democrats in Colorado sounded the alarm Wednesday over a Texas law banning most abortions that took effect Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on an emergency appeal to put the law on hold.