Abortion remains legal in Massachusetts. But the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson will still have an impact in the Bay State.

Local advocates and lawmakers are taking actions to expand access and protect providers. Massachusetts’ abortion clinics and funds, which help people cover the costs of abortions, are gearing up for higher demand as more people travel across state lines and come here later in pregnancy.

One question those funds are hoping to answer is how to shuttle people across state lines, who may not have their own cars or the money to pay for travel.

“I hope to have very sustainable, practical support put into place in Massachusetts for people seeking abortions,” said Feyla McNamara, who co-founded the new statewide abortion fund Tides for Reproductive Freedom. “We’re involved in the New England Regional Coalition of Funds talking about: how do we put together rideshares so that people can get here easily from New Hampshire, or from Rhode Island? How are we going to find lodging that's sufficient for people seeking abortions who have to travel? How do we continue to respond to the need for child care?”

Friday’s decision overturned precedents Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, leaving it up to the states to decide whether to allow abortions. It will likely lead to 26 states heavily restricting or banning abortions.

It’s uncertain how big of an uptick there will be in out-of-state patients coming to Massachusetts. Providers say pregnant people have already been traveling for abortions from Texas, where a six-week abortion ban became law in spring 2021. Experts anticipate people will travel to abortion-friendly states where they have friends and family, and it ultimately comes down to ease of access and wait times.

“You need to think about this like a wave,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, the executive director of reproductive rights advocacy group Reproductive Equity Now.

In states that will soon have complete abortion bans, or already have them, people who want an abortion will have to travel to nearby states. That will put extra pressure on strained clinics, particularly those that border states with sweeping bans, pushing up wait times and sending residents out farther.

It’s clear for Hart Holder, then, that what Massachusetts needs is data. In the coming months, as more bans are put into effect, Massachusetts’ gaps in resources will emerge. She called for a greater investment into the commonwealth’s Department of Public Health to collect statewide data on abortion access.

Experts and providers are split on whether Massachusetts is equipped for an influx of out-of-state travelers — some certain that the commonwealth will be overtaxed, others defiant that there are enough resources. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in Massachusetts through its four locations and telehealth abortion option. It’s upping capacity across the board.

“We are totally ready to take care of people that come from other states,” said Dr. Lolly Delli-Bovi, the founder and medical director of the Brookline abortion facility Women’s Health Services.

"Today will probably be a moment of gathering ourselves together and getting ready to keep doing the work that we do and to keep fighting. ... This is what we've been getting ready for. And now it's time."
Cara Callahan, a co-founder of Tides for Reproductive Freedom

For those who do travel to New England, experts say it’s likely that they will be farther along in their pregnancies after facing delays in their own states. Their procedures will then be more complex and costly.

“The farther along in pregnancy you get an abortion, the more expensive it costs,” said Josie Pinto, who co-founded the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire. “And suddenly we have been seeing requests for, like, [$3,000] to $5,000. An average abortion cost about $500, which for us is a more manageable cost. But as we start seeing those $3,000-plus abortions, that's a whole different ballgame when it comes to funding them.”

A new executive order signed by Gov. Charlie Baker Friday aims to protect providers from out-of-state lawsuits, which has been a specific legislative ask from advocates since the leaked draft showed the court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade.

More legislative requests have been put forward by the Beyond Roe Coalition, which combines Reproductive Equity Now, the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and the ACLU of Massachusetts. They’re also seeking funds for abortions in the state budget, mandating insurance coverage for abortion, ensuring access to medication abortions on college campuses and increasing training for abortion providers.

“If your listeners or your readers are looking for things that they can do right now, if they're angry and agitated and looking for action, I would suggest three things you can help fund abortion access: by supporting your local abortion fund and independent abortion clinics,” said Margaret Batten, who sits on the boards the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund and the Jane Fund of Central Massachusetts. “You can urge your state legislators to move forward with the agenda put forth by the Beyond Roe Coalition that expands abortion access. And you can help de-stigmatize abortion by talking with the people in your life about abortion and why abortion rights matter to you.”

Though shaken by the ruling, providers and advocates have been preparing for the decision since last year, when the justices’ questioning indicated to close listeners how they were likely to rule. Advocates’ plans — to coordinate cross-border travel, to communicate and fund abortions and to push for specific legislative agendas — have been months in the making.

“Today will probably be a moment of gathering ourselves together and getting ready to keep doing the work that we do and to keep fighting,” said Cara Callahan, a co-founder of Tides for Reproductive Freedom. “This is what we’ve been getting ready for. And now it’s time.”