Blue State Barriers and the Messy Map of Abortion Access

Blue State Barriers and the Messy Map of Abortion Access

By The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX

As blue states try to shore up access to abortion and reproductive care, some are facing a threat they didn’t see coming: Catholic health care mergers.

In the first segment, Reveal’s Nina Martin takes us to New Mexico, a blue state that’s been working hard since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade to strengthen its already sweeping protections for many forms of reproductive care. But those guarantees have been threatened by a local merger between Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, the only hospital in rural Otero County, and a Catholic health care system out of Texas, CHRISTUS Health. Like all Catholic hospitals, the newly merged hospital will be subject to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Known as ERDs, they limit or ban a number of reproductive services, including birth control, sterilization, abortion and gender-affirming care. Where will people go if they can’t get the care they need? The next closest hospital is an hour away.

In the next segment, Martin travels to Alamogordo, where Gerald Champion is located, to try to find out how things are changing. Then she widens her lens, talking to a leading researcher on Catholic health care to see how ERDs play out in other hospitals around the country. She closes by talking to two Catholic experts about what ERDs require and how to improve transparency for patients.

In the final segment, Reveal’s Laura C. Morel follows the story of Kelly Flynn, an abortion provider who has clinics in Florida and North Carolina, two states that had been abortion havens for women around the South before Roe fell. But now, lawmakers in North Carolina have imposed a 12-week ban on abortions, and the Florida Supreme Court is weighing a six-week ban. So Flynn has spent the last few months preparing for access to keep shrinking by quietly opening a new clinic in a state that still has relatively strong abortion protections – Virginia.

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