GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, people faced with unexpected pregnancies need resources to turn to.
If you want help during pregnancy and beyond, Wisconsin Right for Life has partnered with over 60 pregnancy centers across the state that provide resources like healthcare, counseling, and even financial support.
Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right for Life, Gracie Skogman said, “We have emergency grants that go to women if potentially they need housing, so it will cover the cost of their rent throughout their pregnancy and we are actually expanding that to go beyond because we want women to know that it’s not just while they’re pregnant but also beyond if they need that support.”
Another helpful resource is the Alexandrina Center in Green Bay. The center is run entirely on donations and all of their services from ultrasounds to pregnancy tests to used clothes are free. Everyone who works for Alexandrina volunteers.
One of the volunteer nurses, Ellen Tilleman explained, “We believe that life begins at conception until natural death and we want to be there for all of it. We want to help the moms. We want to help the babies and that’s what our purpose is.”
Abortion providers say they are doing everything they can to help connect women who want an abortion with resources so they can get abortion services in states where it’s still legal.
“When it happened it felt like a giant gut punch, losing your rights in an instant as a woman and as a provider that takes care of women there are no words,” said Dr. Kristin Lyerly, who is an obstetrician-gynecologist who was providing abortion services in Sheboygan before the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. She is also the District 6 legislative chair for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin closed their abortion clinics the day the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, leaving providers in a situation where they had to tell their patients they could no longer provide them with abortions. Dr. Lyerly still provides general OB/GYN services to women, but can’t provide abortions anymore in Wisconsin.
Under Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law, doctors could face up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines for providing an abortion. The law provides no exception for instances of rape or incest, but does provide exceptions if the life of the mother is in danger.
However, Dr. Lyerly said the life of the mother exception is way too vague and that politicians need to stay out of exam rooms when they legislate.
“I’m very concerned that we are going to end up in situations and I’ve already seen it where women’s lives are at risk and we are waiting too long to take care of them because we don’t know what we can and can’t do,” explained Dr. Lyerly.
Dr. Lyerly said she can refer patients that need abortions to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin which has online portals to find and schedule abortions in other states and in many cases can cover travel expenses.
Minnesota and Illinois are neighboring states where abortion remains legal.
She said travel expenses, transportation, and finding childcare are all major barriers for women seeking abortions in other states.
“They affect people who are already so grossly underrepresented people who are low on resources BIPOC, LGBTQ community, and rural Wisconsin these people are so profoundly impacted by this,” said Dr. Lyerly.
Lyerly said she is providing telemedicine abortion services in Minnesota where it’s still legal. Abortions are also legal in Illinois and there are several abortion clinics in the Chicago area.
She as well as officials from Planned Parenthood said that just because abortion is illegal in Wisconsin doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a need.
“Call centers have been experiencing higher volumes since the decision on June 24, we have also been overwhelmed with offers of support,” said Koby Schellenger who is the external relations specialist for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Inc.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is also providing Make a Plan kits which contain emergency contraception, condoms, and pregnancy tests as needed.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lyerly said she fears that this need for abortion services will create backlogs at abortion clinics in Illinois and Minnesota and there will be a situation where women who need an abortion won’t be able to get one.
“I don’t think Roe v. Wade reversal will save lives I think it will cost lives because people will seek unsafe alternatives,” said Dr. Lyerly.
She stresses her belief that abortion is healthcare and that women should have the opportunity to choose the option that works best for them.
Dr. Lyerly previously ran for state office and was with the governor and attorney general last week when they issued a lawsuit challenging the enforceability of Wisconsin’s abortion law that was established in the 1800s.