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A Longtime Planned Parenthood Volunteer Responds

Updated: Jun 29



The Insider:

Hello Stephani. Thanks for agreeing to talk by text with The Insider on such an historic day.


Stephani:

My pleasure. Thank you.


The Insider:

Which city do you live in?


Stephani:

Minneapolis, Minn.


The Insider:

What kind of abortion-related work have you done?


Stephani:

Quite varied. For the last 8-9 years I’ve been a security escort at Planned Parenthood, a patient support provider for patients getting abortions and I’m also on the board of our local Planned Parenthood affiliate.


The Insider:

What is your reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision today?


Stephani:

While it was expected, it is still gut-wrenching.


The Insider:

May I ask you how old you are?


Stephani:

63


The Insider:

So basically, Roe v. Wade has been the law your whole life.


Stephani:

Essentially. It became the law of the land when I was in high school.


The Insider:

What do you remember from then?


Stephani:

I remember trying to get a sex-ed class into our school. It drew a huge crowd of parents to a meeting because they opposed the idea. Also, a counselor, who remained a friend of mine, later told me of getting a call after school hours from a student who had an illegal abortion and was having problems. He always wondered what would have happened to her had he not answered. Instead he was able to call 911 and get her help. Scary stuff!


The Insider:

During your time at Planned Parenthood, have you ever heard women who lived before Roe talk about it?


Stephani:

Absolutely. Horrific stories


The Insider:

Can you please share an example or two of those?


Stephani:

Botched procedures, excessive bleeding, fear of infection….


The Insider:

I think that many young women now can’t imagine life without legal abortion.


Stephani:

Absolutely–most people can’t fathom life without legal abortion! No one could have imagined this actually happening!


The Insider:

What was your personal motivation for getting involved with Planned Parenthood?


Stephani:

My dad was on the board of the Omaha Planned Parenthood. He took me to their office one night to pick up material and said, “this is a place you should know about.” Both my parents were very supportive. While they wanted me to wait until I was married to become sexually involved, they realized knowledge was powerful and important. That’s how I first got involved


In college, I was a social work major with an emphasis in women’s studies. I got my first paid Planned Parenthood job as a clinic director in Ogden, Utah.


The Insider:

Have there been anti-abortion protests at your Planned Parenthood?


Stephani:

Absolutely! Every day and they’ve gotten louder and more aggressive. It was better in the early’80s than now.


The Insider:

What was better in the early ’80s?


Stephani:

The reaction to Planned Parenthood and reproductive health and even abortion. Not the lightening rod it is now


The Insider:

Why do you think that the anti-abortion movement has gotten “louder and more aggressive”?


Stephani:

Some protestors have always been loud and rude and shaming. Mostly white, middle-aged men but there are women who are also truly awful. As if our patients and their partners coming to Planned Parenthood haven’t already given their decision thought and come to their own conclusion. There was a noticeable uptick in rudeness after the Scotus leak. A bit of “we’re going to win…”


They also know the police won’t do anything if called. I’ve been pushed by a protestor and I'm often yelled at. I insisted that the cops were called so there would be a record if things escalated


The Insider:

What do you think will happen to your Planned Parenthood facility?


Stephani:

Our health center will be fine


The Insider:

Will your abortion portion have to close down immediately?


Stephani:

No. Abortion will remain legal in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. We are looking into all options open to us and trying to ramp up our capabilities for the anticipated increase of patients from outside of Minnesota. We’re already seeing patients from other states. Roe has been legal but largely inaccessible to many


The Insider:

In what way largely inaccessible to many?


Stephani:

South Dakota, for example. Of course, it's a moot point now as that state had an immediate trigger ban in place. Previously, patients there would go in for two appointments. At the first they would have an exam and meet with a doctor who would read state-mandated potential risks of having an abortion, many factually incorrect (such as increased risk of breast cancer, depression, suicide). The second appointment was scheduled for 72 hours later (which could not include weekends or holidays) and required that the same doctor performed the abortion. If the doctor was sick or the patient couldn't come in for some reason the process began again. In addition to that, the only clinic providing abortions in South Dakota at that time was the Planned Parenthood health center located at the eastern border of the state. For some patients it was actually easier to travel to Colorado; fewer restrictions and closer.


The Insider:

What states have you now seen patients come in from?


Stephani:

Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas.


The Insider:

Is that since the draft opinion was leaked?


No. We’ve always seen patients from the first five states. Texas since SB8 and Oklahoma since their ruling.


The Insider:

Did they have fewer services available in their states, because of more restrictive laws?


Stephani:

Yes, different rules, different gestational ages allowed, couldn’t get an appointment in time


The Insider:

Please describe what these women who come from out-of-state for abortions say when they arrive?


Stephani:

What they say is that they are incredibly grateful for us! It’s really important to know that we see a number of people who come in saying they never believed in abortion, never thought they’d be in our clinic but then they tell me how they have two kids already and can’t feed a third, or they want to finish their education, or they are in an abusive relationship. I suggest to them that they recognize they are no different from any of our patients who all have their personal reasons for being there


The Insider:

What are the mechanics of coming in from another state for an abortion? How long do they come in for? Is that one day?


Stephani:

It depends. Most are there one day. If further along in their pregnancies, it becomes a two-day procedure. First day prep, second day procedure. We will be navigating what it means to travel out of state for abortions. Still many unknowns


The Insider:

Can all of these women afford to do that?


Stephani:

Afford this? Hardly!! Abortions are not inexpensive and then add in travel expenses: hotels, childcare, missed work, etc. It’s crazy and men would not stand for it!! Thankfully, there are a number of “justice” funds that are cropping up to help. I can’t tell you how incredible this really is


Another important point: making abortion care illegal will have profound effects on reproductive health care. Doctors will not be trained to handle routine miscarriage treatment and/or ectopic pregnancies!


The Insider:

Is Planned Parenthood a profit-making organization or a charity?


Stephani:

Definitely NOT a profit-making organization. Nonprofit, sliding scale and we do accept insurance from those who have coverage.


The Insider:

Can you please give me any sense of the cost of how much an abortion ranges from?


Stephani:

That’s a tough one to answer. Depends on medical versus surgical, one day versus two days. I’d say $600 on average.


The Insider:

Does this Supreme Court decision make you more or less likely to do this kind of work?


Stephani:

Oh my God, I’ll absolutely continue! What I’m doing, particularly in my patient support work, is invaluable. Every day I’m there, I know I’ve made a difference in someone’s life


The Insider:

You said earlier that the draft decision had emboldened protestors. What impact would you guess that today’s decision would have on the anti-abortion movement? What comes next?


Stephani:

At the ground level, I anticipate our protestors to be emboldened and more obnoxious. That said, I doubt the Republicans in charge really expected this day to come. They should be running scared - hopefully. We need to vote and change this tide!!


The Insider:

Great place to end. I am so grateful, Stephani!


Stephani:

You’re welcome!

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