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One gynecologist illuminates for patients how abortion clinics will change

SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and, with it, a federal right to an abortion will impact providers like Dr. Charlie Browne. He's a Seattle-based physician, and he joins me now. Thank you for joining us.

CHARLIE BROWNE: Thank you. Good day, everyone.

DAVIS: Doctor, can I get your reaction to the Supreme Court ruling?

BROWNE: Well, we are all shocked and saddened by this ruling. We knew it was coming. It's one thing when you know something's coming, it's another when it actually arrives. And my colleagues in many states are just really quite shaken and concerned for the plight of women in this country moving forward.

DAVIS: You work at clinics in three states - Washington, Oregon, Nevada. What changes do you expect to see now at these clinics?

BROWNE: Well, we've already seen changes just based on the Texas law that was instituted in September of last year. With the announcement of the Supreme Court decision, the clinic here in Nevada, I've already seen a 25- to 30% increase in calls from neighboring states like Arizona, Utah, Idaho - people just calling to schedule procedures. You know, when things like this happen, the public may not quite understand what it means for them in their home state. So people tend to really react sometimes in ways that may - they may not even have to because their right to have an abortion in their state hasn't been taken away yet. But for those states that it will be taken away, and ours - certainly, we anticipate Arizona to be one of those - we're seeing already a flurry of calls.

DAVIS: Do you see an impact in who this will affect? I think we focus a lot on red state verse (ph) blue state here, but there also seems to be an economic component. Wealthy women in this country can more easily buy an airplane ticket and fly to Washington state to receive abortion services if they need to. Who do you think is most affected by this ruling?

BROWNE: Undoubtedly, women of meager means will suffer most. The women who and people who can, as you say, get on a plane or travel to another state and get their reproductive health care taken care of will do so and can - and have always done so and continue to do so. People who are affected by this most are going to be people who can least afford to be affected by it.

DAVIS: More broadly, do you think that this ruling and the way that there will now be a patchwork of abortion laws in this country - what do you think the overall impact will be on maternal health?

BROWNE: History shows us that when decisions such as this, that restrict people's access to health care - and we must remember that abortion services are part of reproductive health care. And history has shown us that when those rights are compromised or taken away, people tend to take matters into their own hands. What that means is that people will go to great lengths to end their own pregnancies.

DAVIS: Do you think that that means there will not be less abortions, there will just be fewer safe abortions?

BROWNE: That is absolutely correct. When I was a young doctor coming through the ranks, my older docs would oftentimes tell me that there was hardly ever a call night where they didn't see someone with a self-attempted abortion that went wrong - either ending up in sepsis or some other very dire situation - that the person needed to come into the ER, some of whom just didn't make it. And that's something that we don't know in our generation because of the protection of Roe v. Wade. Now, that has been taken away, I shudder to think that some of that may come back.

DAVIS: Do you think the ruling will have an impact on providers? Are people in your position more or less interested in finding ways to provide these types of services to women based off the Supreme Court ruling?

BROWNE: Well, I think more. Just like we've seen an uptick in patients from other states, I've had an uptick in providers from other states who call or email to say that they would like to start seeing patients in these states that are protected. So many people in medicine who recognize that this is an assault on a certain aspect of medical care have taken action to come forward and say, I don't want to just sit by and not do something. And so many of them have come forward, and people will continue to come forward.

DAVIS: Dr. Charlie Browne is a physician and abortion provider based in Seattle. Dr. Brown, thank you for your time.

BROWNE: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.