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Fort Myers Planned Parenthood navigates Roe overturn and 15-week abortion ban

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Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida Dr. Robyn Schickler

When the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers immediately received a flurry of anxious patient phone calls.

The Supreme Court decision revoked a nearly 50-year constitutional right to an abortion.

Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida Dr. Robyn Schickler said the influx of calls were about keeping existing appointments or making new ones, but unexpected requests were increasing too.

“People inquiring about all the birth control methods and inquiring about sterilization. So, like tying tubes and vasectomies, which was unusual,” said Schickler.

Schickler explains they’re seeing an increase of patients asking for long-acting, reversible contraceptive methods, like intrauterine devices or birth control implants that are inserted into a patient’s arm.

“They'll say, ‘I wanna get it now just in case I can't get it later.’ So, they're scared. They're scared if that means, like, they're going to lose access to their contraception too, because they can't make this decision about their body,” said Schickler.

On July 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. Dr. Schickler explains what that mean for those seeking procedures beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“We put them on a separate schedule to be called by our patient navigator," said Schickler. "And then they give them information to help give them the resources to find someone out of state, and they have to leave the state to get care.”

The 15-week abortion ban has also resulted in operational changes in area clinics in terms of upping communications to educate people on the updated restrictions to care, increasing staff to keep up with patient increases, and closely consulting with legal teams to ensure that new state policies are not being violated.

Despite longer hours and navigating new hurdles to provide care, Schickler says her patients keep her motivated to continue her work.

“One in four women, probably a little bit more, will have had an abortion in their lifetime. So, to me as an OBGYN, it’s just part of women’s health care," said Schickler. "I and the other providers I work with are some of the only people that will do it. And, so, that just gives me purpose to do it. And the patients. Every time I see patients, it reminds me why I do it.”

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