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Idaho Planned Parenthood Director says fight for reproductive rights isn't over

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George Prentice, Boise State Public Radio, Planned Parenthood
Thousands filled the Idaho Statehouse steps during a May 2022 pro-choice rally.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Friday overturned the constitutional right to an abortion. In Idaho, that means an abortion ban with few exceptions is set to go into effect in 30 days.

Planned Parenthood says it will continue to provide abortion care in Idaho as long as it's legally able to.

Morning Edition Host George Prentice spoke with Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates to talk about the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman is the Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. Mistie, welcome back to the program.

MISTIE DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: Thanks, George.

PRENTICE: Well, here we are. And it's not as if Planned Parenthood and families across the nation did not see this coming. But can I also assume that knowing that something as critical as this was coming didn't necessarily soften the blow?

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: Yeah. That's 100% accurate. You and I have talked before about how we knew this decision was coming, we’ve known it was coming, we've been preparing for it. And yet it turns out something as monumental as this, it really doesn't help it feel any less devastating to know that the court has failed us.

PRENTICE: Can you remind us of who has walked through the door of Planned Parenthood for health care? There is no stereotype here, right?

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: Right. I mean, I think people think they have in their minds what type of person walks in the door of a health center and what type of person might be seeking abortion care. But we see everyone we see everyone from all kinds of walks of life. We see conservatives, we see progressives. We see people who already have children and are coming to seek an abortion. We see young folks. We see older people. I mean, there truly is no stereotype that fits our patients.

PRENTICE: Can you give us a sense of what the mood or resolve has been for the last few weeks within your organization and what you've been hearing from the public?

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: It runs the gamut. There's a whole spectrum of feelings that are happening all at the same time. I mean, we are devastated, we are outraged, we are ready to fight like hell. And that's the resolve within the organization. We know that the Supreme Court has taken away our right to abortion. They've taken away the power to control our own bodies and control our own personal decisions. They've taken that power away and given it to politicians.

This court that's now dominated by justices who are hostile to our freedoms have robbed us of our power to control our own bodies and therefore our own futures. So, you know, I think that the devastation, the outrage and the resolve are all existing at the same time for folks who are working in repro right now.

And, of course, we're hearing similar feelings from our patients and our supporters and our volunteers and activists. They're on a roller coaster of of emotions that run from fear and concern to outrage and wanting to make sure that they can stand with us and make sure that they can be prepared to help get patients to where they need to be to get care. I mean, people are coming out of the woodwork wanting to volunteer and make sure that their friends and neighbors are taken care of.

PRENTICE: Let's talk about what your organization has called a regional response. And an up first, can we assume that the closing of the Boise Planned Parenthood location was part of some analysis of regional resources?

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: That's absolutely what it was. We did know this decision was coming, so I can't say that it had no influence on the decision that we made. But months and months ago, we started a thorough evaluation of our patients needs, of our own operations costs and what the future of care would look like in Idaho. And during that evaluation, we were just trying to figure out how we could most efficiently serve our patients. So we decided to merge our Boise and Meridian health centers, basically combine our Ada County locations so that we could distribute those resources differently.

And we sunk them heavily into telemedicine. There's a lot that we can do through telehealth so that we can free up in-person care. We sent them into our patient navigator team, so that our team could be ready the day that this band goes into effect to stand hand in hand with a patient and walk them through every single step of the way, because we know that they're scared, we know it's going to be confusing.

And we want them to know that we're here for them and we're ready to help them get wherever they need to get connect them with the resources they need to be connected to, and then get them back home for any follow up care they might need. And merging those health centers helped us free up those resources to be able to do that. Now that this is an experiment, right? This is what we think we need to do in this moment in time to meet the needs of our patients, which is always what our our driving motivation is if we find that this isn't meeting our patients needs, a third health center in Idaho is not off the table.

PRENTICE: So, can I assume then that as far as a regional response and as far as options going forward, they might include Washington, Oregon, Colorado?

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: Yes, absolutely. We are taking a regional approach to care at this at this time. We have bordering states that will continue to have access to abortion after the Supreme Court's decision. And they are really concerned about Idahoans. And they have come together with us months ago to start making plans on how they can free up their capacity to be able to handle an influx of Idaho patients. And we're partnering with abortion funds to be able to make sure we can connect patients with those resources and get them to the health centers in our bordering states.

PRENTICE: Well, I have to assume that the calls are coming in fairly steadily. So what is your message to someone who asks about or needs abortion services?

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: For those in need of care, I want folks to know that Planned Parenthood's patient navigator team is ready. We've been ready. We've been preparing for this moment. We were built for this moment. And we're ready to work with you every step of the way to help you find the appointment that you need to connect you with financial resources and logistics support to leave the state and travel to to find an appointment out of state, to find lodging, to cover the cost of travel, provide follow up care here in Idaho if you need it. So I would just say if you need our help, if you need abortion care, if you need any type of reproductive care, get in touch with Planned Parenthood's patient navigators and we can help you. If not here in Idaho, we can help you get to the care you need. And that number is 1-802-230-PLAN. They can call to get a hold of our patient navigators.

On one hand, we've been preparing on the health center side to really be able to continue to care for our patients in Idaho. And on the other hand, we've been working nonstop on the advocacy side. And this is not going to stop us. We're going to rebuild. We're shifting from protecting abortion rights to reclaiming that freedom that is ours.

We're never going to stop fighting to restore and defend the rights of people seeking abortion care, seeking sexual and reproductive health care. We know that generations before us have fought tirelessly to gain and protect these rights. And now it's our turn to pick up that mantle. Together, we’re going to go hard to make sure that everyone has the care they need to control their bodies and to build their own futures.

And that means that no politicians and no bans and no judges should be able to block our personal medical decisions. So this fight is far from over. We know it's not going to be solved tomorrow. We know it's not going to be solved in a year. But we have the strength in numbers and we have the power in our united voices to restore and reclaim this freedom.

PRENTICE: Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman is the Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. Thank you for giving us some time this morning.

DELLICARPINI-TOLMAN: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, George.

When people ask me, “What time do you start Morning Edition?” my go-to answer is, “Don’t worry. No matter what time you get up, we’re on the job.”