BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In a typical year, Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York sees about 100 patient visits from out of state.
However, in just the last roughly two months since the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion rights in late June, President Michelle Casey said the organization eclipsed that figure by a lot.
"What I think was surprising to me was that there was more folks coming from Pennsylvania, from Ohio, and I think that's because the system is being overtaxed in Pennsylvania," Casey said.
Pennsylvania does not currently have an abortion ban but Casey believes that it's getting a lot of its own out-of-state patients. She said there are also not a lot of services available in central Pennsylvania so many women from the state are ending up primarily in Planned Parenthood's Western New York locations.
"It's really much higher volumes than we would have expected and I think it's going to get more and more. Pennsylvania has the opportunity to, depending on what happens in their November election, may impact their ability to do care in that state," Casey said.
She said so far the organization has been able to handle the extra volume but she believes it can do better.
"I would like us to be scheduling appointments closer to when people call. Sometimes they have to wait a fair amount of time to get an appointment. We really try to make sure that people have an appointment within a week and sometimes it has extended further beyond that to two or three weeks which is not ideal," Casey said.
The Biden administration, as well as New York state, have taken steps to support women seeking reproductive health care. The governor allocated millions in emergency funding from the health budget for regional Planned Parenthoods, while the president signed an executive order meant to, among other things, protect emergency health care for women in states with bans and protect access to contraception and medication abortions.
"What both the governor is doing and the president is doing is making sure that women can still exercise their reproductive healthcare rights and that is good in a free and democratic society," said Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins.
Casey believes it's important the state Legislature continue to focus on access when it returns for session next year.
"They passed a lot of protections for providers in New York state and that type of thing but there's some I think loopholes that we want to tighten up that we're going to ask them to look at and then also thinking about a more long-term funding stream for this care," she said.