Listen: Despite Dobbs altering the map of abortion access, Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood is still providing care

Aug. 26, 2022, 5 a.m. ·

One of two procedure rooms at Planned Parenthood's Lincoln location
One of two procedure rooms at Planned Parenthood's Lincoln clinic where abortions are performed. (Photo by Will Bauer, Nebraska Public Media News)

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It’s been 63 days since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade. In Nebraska, abortion access remains unchanged, as state law bans abortion 20 weeks after fertilization. Nebraska Public Media’s Will Bauer went to Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Lincoln to get a tour and hear what’s changed since June.

Tiffney Ruben: We are going to be entering into the side of the health center that we provide our abortion services out of.

Will Bauer: Earlier this week, I met with Tiffney Ruben and Andi Curry Grubb, both of whom work with Planned Parenthood of North Central States. Ruben, who's leading me through the south Lincoln facility, is the regional director.

Ruben: When patients arrived to the health center for their appointment, they're going to come in, they're going to be checked in at our front desk.

Bauer: Abortion is still legal in Nebraska until 20 weeks after fertilization. And that didn't change after the Supreme Court's decision. I asked Curry Grubb the state's executive director, if anything had changed since June. For the most part, she said, no, services haven't changed.

Curry Grubb: Obviously, we've seen more patients coming from out of state. I think any any state that still has legal abortion access is in that same position. But outside of that, nothing has really changed.

Bauer: What states are those women coming from?

Andi Curry Grubb and Tiffney Ruben pose for a photo
Andi Curry Grub, Nebraska's executive director, and Tiffney Ruben, the regional director, stand in the organization's library. (Photo by Will Bauer, Nebraska Public Media News)

Ruben: We have seen patients come as far as Georgia and Louisiana – as well as Texas, Oklahoma are really pretty common. Some are more common. And then more more of our neighbors, right. So like Missouri, South Dakota. We've seen a lot coming from this the neighboring states around us.

Bauer: That's also true for Planned Parenthood's Omaha clinic. Having patients from other neighboring states is not unprecedented. Last year 55 women were from South Dakota, according to Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services report. Curry Grubb says it's common to see women traveling to states that are most convenient to them – not only geographically but also considering where they might have family or supportive services. If there's more women coming from other states, does that mean there's probably more abortions happening here and in Omaha than there had been in the past?

Curry Grubb: No. And not necessarily because...Honestly, it's because abortion is still heavily regulated in the state of Nebraska.

Bauer: The demand for abortions is there, she says, but expanding their services isn't something that's possible right now with Nebraska's current laws. We know, thanks to DHHS reporting, that most abortions happen between the 8th and 12th week of pregnancy. Nebraska's ban starts at 20 weeks. Curry Grubb says that gives women more time to make a decision.

Curry Grubb: The one thing that it's always hard to talk about abortion in generalities. One of my favorite sayings is that if you've heard one abortion story, you've heard one abortion story. The context, the situations, the health concerns, all of the different pieces of every single patient is so different. And I think that's another misconception is that there's kind of this one person that has an abortion patient in folks mind. And the reality is we see folks with huge, huge variety of backgrounds.

Bauer: Is there an MD on staff? Or are they contracted out, and they come in when they're needed?

Curry Grubb: Well, let's see. I'm trying to figure out what part of this I'm comfortable having on because we get a little bit nervous talking too much about our abortion providers because the protesters are very interested in who provides abortions in our state.

Bauer: My follow up question would be: Is it hard to retain a on staff doctor to do these kinds of services because of protestors and the fear of what may happen?

Curry Grubb: Yes. The short answer is yes, it is. It is. It is a very challenging position to be and to be an abortion provider. Protesters are are pretty intense at times. Most of our providers receive threats and you know, things like that, that they have to do extra work to make sure they keep themselves safe.

Bauer: Planned Parenthood, she says, did have a doctor on staff for a long time. That person recently retired and now they have other physicians coming in to provide care. Abortions, of course are what Planned Parenthood is known for, but it's just a fraction of their services. The other services include community outreach, family planning, STI testing, pap smears and so on. As of now, Curry Grubb and Ruben will continue to do what they can to provide all their services. But it does dawn on both that things could possibly change if the election causes a shakeup at the legislature.

Editor's note: Planned Parenthood is a financial supporter of Nebraska Public Media. This conversation has been edited for clarity.