The Texas abortion ban has turned Planned Parenthood’s hotlines into ‘crisis centers,’ according to its president

Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the morning as the court takes up a major abortion case focusing on whether a Texas law that imposes strict regulations on abortion doctors and clinic buildings interferes with the constitutional right of a woman to end her pregnancy, in Washington March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Since Texas lawmakers passed SB8, a bill that bans abortion after 6 weeks, abortion providers have taken on a new role.
  • Planned Parenthood’s president says its counselors have to recommend out-of-state care.
  • In other cases, they must comfort those who can’t afford to travel and are stuck with unwanted pregnancies.
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Planned Parenthood’s call centers, which are typically used for 24/7 advice from counselors, have become “crisis hotlines” amidst Texas’ new strict abortion ban, according to the organization’s president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, along with other reproductive rights groups ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and the Center for Reproductive Rights, have petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their appeal to SB8, Texas’ bill that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. They, along with abortion providers in the state, say patients are desperate for care that lawmakers have made unavailable.

On October 31, Texas lawmakers passed SB8, which makes no exceptions for abortions after six weeks, even in cases of rape or incest. Texans are financially incentivized to sue fellow residents who break the law.

“Planned Parenthood call centers have become crisis hotlines and health center staff have become crisis counselors,” McGill Johnson said in a September 23 joint petition to the Supreme Court.

McGill Johnson says Texans haven’t stopped asking for abortions in the weeks since SB8 passed. When Texas Planned Parenthood centers are called, counselors direct them to out-of-state care or help them grapple with having “pregnancies against their will,” said McGill Johnson.

Potentially fatal mental and physical health concerns are common reasons people seek abortions, Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a doctor at Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston who performs upwards of 30 abortions daily, told the Texas Tribune.

“Many of the patients that I take care of will say, ‘I can’t be pregnant because my last delivery was very traumatic and I almost died’ or ‘I can’t be pregnant because I have heart problems’ or whatever medical condition that’s eliminated their ability to continue the pregnancy,” Kumar told the Texas Tribune. “I think that’s not appreciated enough.”

Texas doctors are also sounding the alarm on SB8

SB8 allows Texans to sue fellow residents involved in abortion care performed after six weeks of pregnancy. If a resident sues and wins, they get $US10,000 ($AU13,725) in damages and their attorney fees are compensated.

This clause puts healthcare workers, rideshare drivers, and others involved in any step of the abortion process in legal danger.

Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi is an abortion provider who went to medical school in Texas and has practiced there ever since. In an interview with NPR, Moayedi said the bill prevents her from doing the work she was trained to do.

“You know, this bill is 100% about putting fear in physicians and putting fear in abortion funds and intimidating us,” Moayedi told NPR.

She said job loss could also mean being unable to provide financially for her family.