Researchers analyzed a limited sample of data collected from a local abortion services provider, finding that the majority of callers were women of color who already had children. All had been displaced by the hurricane; the majority voiced a financial need. One of the women reported being raped while seeking shelter after the hurricane; another reported being in a “dangerous situation” with an abusive partner. (Other research
has shown that there is an increase in intimate partner violence following disasters).
“As evident, this time-sensitive and common procedure remains critical care during and post-disaster,” the study authors concluded. “While weather-related disaster interrupts travel, childcare, employment, and clinic access, abortion need continues; in fact, it is a crucial piece to medical response.”
In 2018, Pacific Standard
also reported on abortions in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, focusing on how providers shifted their care to meet the landscape left after the storm. Journalist Caitlin Cruz profiled the efforts of multiple organizations, including Whole Woman’s Health, which offered free abortions following the hurricane (within the first six months, the organization said it covered the procedure for 85 people).
Another organization, Clinic Access Support Network, said it tracked a 30% increase in requests for their transportation and accommodation services for those seeking abortion care after Harvey.
“Weeks after the storm, the organization did an emergency onboarding for new volunteers because they had so many clients to take on,” Cruz wrote in the article
Last year, E&E News
looked at how some restrictive abortion laws were already clashing with disasters, with Hurricane Ida limiting the number of clinics operating for Texans seeking services they could no longer get in their state.
This is what some told the outlet they fear could become the new normal in a world without Roe v. Wade – not only people struggling to access abortion care in the wake of disasters, but people potentially putting themselves in the path of disasters in pursuit of that care, as well.
“We know overwhelmingly that people seeking abortions are already low-income and dealing with making travel arrangements and finding child care and missing work,” Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, which advocates for abortion access in the state, told E&E. “All of that stuff becomes exacerbated if you are traveling even longer distances for care and doing it in the midst of a storm or recovery, and just [as] with Hurricane Ida, some women are not going to get the abortions they need because of it.”