Montana Planned Parenthood Requires Proof of Residence for Medical Abortions, Email Shows

According to an internal email from The Daily Beast, Planned Parenthood of Montana will no longer offer medical abortions for patients from South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma and will now require proof of residence for treatment.

In an email Thursday morning to state officials, Montana Planned Parenthood President and CEO Martha Fuller attributed the new non-surgical abortion rules to the “rapidly changing” legal landscape surrounding voting rights. The change came less than a week after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 milestone Roe v. calf Decision to legalize abortion nationwide, raising the prospect of crackdowns from states with tough bans on abortion — and attempts at cross-state law enforcement.

The email was first reported by journalist Hunter Pauli on Twitter.

“As a healthcare provider, we have a constant need to identify and mitigate risk,” Fuller said in the email. “The risks associated with the cross-state provision of services are less than clear at this time, with the potential for civil and criminal action to offer abortions in banned states. As we move forward and learn more about risks, we will provide guidance and implement any necessary changes in abortion care policies and procedures.”

According to the email, the state-owned subsidiary’s restriction applies only to medical abortion, a two-pill regimen that can be performed either in a clinic or at a location of the patient’s choice. The email makes it clear that the provider intends to continue offering surgical abortion services to out-of-state patients even if their home state has banned abortion.

“To be clear, Planned Parenthood of Montana will continue to serve out-of-state patients who desire an abortion,” Fuller said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Now that the Supreme Court has overturned roe, we must make decisions about the provision of abortion care taking into account the rapidly changing landscape of access to abortion across the country and amid the vicious intent of anti-abortion advocates to sow chaos and confusion. No matter what happens, Planned Parenthood of Montana will do everything we can to protect patients, providers and health center staff. Access to abortion in Montana remains constitutionally protected and available.”

Some states effectively moved to ban medical abortions after the ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which threatened access to all forms of the process for some 40 million women and girls in nearly two dozen states. Immediately after the verdict, 13 states began restricting – or banning – abortion through preventive “trigger laws.”

An abortion ban in South Dakota is currently in effect, and bans in nearby states like Wyoming and North Dakota are expected to be enacted soon, the email notes. Other states — including Utah and Idaho — haveroe Bans that remain on the books or have passed subsequent anti-abortion measures that have been blocked by federal courts. (As noted in the email, the ban was stayed in Utah court.)

That abortion providers across the country face a number of new legal challenges Dobbs verdict is clear. But Planned Parenthood’s move raises the prospect of providers in legal states withdrawing some forms of reproductive care for fear of cross-state entanglements. Despite its Red State status, the Montana Supreme Court established abortion rights as a pillar of privacy in a 1999 ruling.

The move also comes just days after Fuller released a statement insisting her subsidiary would fight against any efforts to limit abortion in the area; Fuller added that the organization expects “additional patients from outside of Montana.”

“We’re going to end up in a country where we have this patchwork of states where abortion access is available and states where it isn’t, and you know, I can already see the chaos that’s starting to happen,” Fuller said last Friday.

But in Thursday’s email, Fuller explains that parents from South Dakota or other states with total bans currently in place can only access surgical abortions in the state and “cannot obtain medical abortion services” from Planned Parenthood of Montana. The email also lists several other states that fall under those criteria, including three whose trigger laws have gone into effect in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Ohio and Texas patients who are past the six-week mark — which is a limit for abortion bans — are also being denied medical abortions, the email said.

“To comply with this change, we will require all MAB patients to provide proof of residency,” the email continued. “We do not take this lightly and recognize that this change will disproportionately affect Indigenous patients.”

Fuller added that staff will soon be trained on the various forms of proof of residence that are accepted – and that they “may not be able to immediately identify all acceptable forms of proof.”

“As the landscape changes, we will update you all with information on which state residents will be affected,” Fuller added in the email. “We will monitor the legal situation and consult with the legal council on this and all other risks. This decision was difficult to make and I want you to know that it is based on protecting our providers and patients.” Montana Planned Parenthood Requires Proof of Residence for Medical Abortions, Email Shows


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