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Tennessee abortion providers are hiring ‘navigators’ to assist in getting to abortion-friendly states

Blake Farmer | WPLN News

Tennessee’s top abortion provider is stepping up efforts to help residents get abortions even if they’re banned in the state. Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi is hiring “navigators” to help patients travel to nearby states.

If the leaked Supreme Court ruling stands, abortions will be illegal in Tennessee and many surrounding states. Planned Parenthood still plans to offer pre- and post-abortion care and connect patients to affiliates that can provide the procedures, says CEO Ashley Coffield.

“The role of those navigators will be to talk with patients about the barriers they face in exiting our state … and finding resources for them to be able to afford to get to where they need to be,” she said during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.

For the western half of the state, Illinois will become the closest option. In the east — North Carolina and Virginia are expected to be abortion havens, Coffield said.

Abortion providers around the country are preparing for an out-of-state influx. In Minneapolis, Whole Women’s Health opened a clinic near the airport to make travel more convenient. But its leaders acknowledge that even covering the cost won’t be enough for some with unwanted pregnancies. Many can’t take the time off work or have other children to care for.

For now, Tennessee abortions remain available.

“Our doors remain open,” Coffield said. “We will continue to provide abortion care up to the very minute when we can no longer do so legally.”