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'It just looks different': Wisconsin Planned Parenthood still offering abortion services

Kansas Planned Parenthood funds stay until July
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 23:43:08-04

Natalee Hartwig has always been determined to find a way to help people.

"It feels empowering to us, to be able to do something for them when we felt so helpless," said Hartwig.

Helpless, she said, after Planned Parenthood Wisconsin (PPWI) had to turn away women seeking abortions in the state.

The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, in effect, made abortion illegal in Wisconsin. But weeks later, PPWI staff is still providing abortions, just across state lines.

Hartwig, a nurse and midwife, is the associate director of clinical services at PPWI in Madison.

Since Roe fell, she's been doing a lot more clinical than administrative work.

Hartwig has been providing providing medical abortions — the kind that use a pill — two to three days a week in Illinois. Many of her patients are traveling from Wisconsin.

According to Planned Parenthood Illinois, total patients have risen 65 percent since the court's decision.

To support the spike, PPWI staff have been working out of Illinois clinics.

The majority of its abortion services team, said PPWI, is dedicated to travel to provide care in Illinois, where they expect demand to continue growing.

"I'm not the one that needs an abortion right now. I'm not the one struggling to get that care," said Hartwig. "I think that the burden for me is nothing compared to the burden for pregnant people needing abortion services."

For now, all PPWI's clinics are still open, just not providing abortions. They offer Pregnancy Assessment and Ultrasound Dating appointments to determine how far along a pregnancy is.

And through donations, said Hartwig, those services are now free. You can also visit a Wisconsin clinic to follow up on an abortion performed out of state.

They also offer consultation on travel options to states that still allow abortion.

"We're still here to help patients who need to access abortion care. It just looks a little bit different," said Hartwig.

On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order to preserve abortion rights nationwide.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, in a statement, said that action won't restore abortion care in Wisconsin. The state legislature, it said, needs to act to make abortion legal once again.

Abortion opponents in the state have long argued the need to find more help for pregnant women to maintain their pregnancies.

Following Biden's announcement, Wisconsin Right to Life said it's disappointed by the president's order. It added it's focused on supporting pregnant women facing housing or healthcare insecurity who do not want to have an abortion.

"Women who are facing challenging or unexpected pregnancy are so often overlooked by the president, by politicians who are pro-abortion," said Gracie Skogman, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life.

"They want to continue to push access to abortion, but they don't want to have these important conversations about what does it really look like to support and empower women."

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