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Bloomington, MN (CNN)Steps from an interstate and minutes from an airport sits a nondescript building with a tenant never more in demand.

Whole Woman's Health is one of the nation's largest independent abortion providers, and the location of its Minnesota clinic is no accident. "Some patients may fly, some may prefer to drive.
So being near the highways that we are and the airport in Bloomington gives patients the most options available," said Sharon Lau, Midwest advocacy director for Whole Woman's Health Alliance.Read More Lau says the clinic is bracing for an influx of patients from states with more restrictive abortion laws than Minnesota after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and enabled states to determine abortion access.These are the states where abortion rights are still protected after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Planned Parenthood of Minnesota tells CNN that on Monday, the first business day after the Supreme Court decision, it received its highest call volume ever -- an increase of 50% -- with many of the calls coming from out-of-state. "We expect to see a minimum of 10 to 25% more people coming, seeking abortion," said Sarah Stoesz, the regional CEO of Planned Parenthood. Minnesota is surrounded by states with some level of abortion restrictions. That includes South Dakota, which has an outright ban on abortion with "very limited exceptions," according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that tracks abortion policy and supports abortion access. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area sits in a strategic location on Interstate 35, which connects the region with Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas -- all with some of the most restrictive laws in the nation. (A Texas court put a temporary restraining order on enforcement of state law until at least July 12.) "I don't know if we're going to be able to handle the increase," Stoesz said. "There is already a healthcare worker shortage and we've been struggling with that since the beginning of the pandemic. That hasn't gone away." Stoesz expects an increase in the use of the abortion pill as an initial solution, "because appointments are going to be difficult to get," she said. 'I never regretted getting that abortion' Liz Van Heel understands the need for abortion for fragile medical situations. She says that six years ago she and her husband received a devastating diagnosis on the day of an 18-week ultrasound appointment. Their unborn child had a neural tube defect, meaning the baby's brain would never fully form. "It was Friday the 13th. That's when my doctor told me the news, that this baby was incompatible with life. I felt like I lost my baby right then," Van Heel said. "That diagnosis meant that I would either miscarry at any time or the moments after I gave birth the baby would die." Van Heel decided the best option for her mental health, and the only way to preserve attempting another pregnancy, would be abortion. She says the grief was intense. Liz Van Heel chose abortion after learning that the brain of her unborn son wasn't developing. "I knew that continuing to carry a baby that was not compatible with life, was not going to be good for my mental health or my emotional health," she told CNN. "I've never regretted getting that abortion. And, in many ways I think of that abortion as the pathway that got me to my second son. Because if I would have had to carry that baby that was incompatible with life, the damage it would have done to me psychologically, I don't know whether I would have done it again." Now, as she recalls the doctors who connected her to Planned Parenthood, Van Heel worries about the women who utilize abortion for fragile medical situations, not because they don't want the child. She knows the desperate feeling some mothers will go through and fears they will have a tougher time getting an abortion. "That is worrisome. Having gone through this, that period between deciding you want an abortion and then actually having an abortion. It feels so long," she said. "I would be honored to be a resource for anyone that needs it." Stoesz said Planned Parenthood is hearing from people like Van Heel by offering resources to people who don't have the ability to travel out of state. "Someone reached out to me who owns a small plane, and she wants to organize a lot of her friends and others around the country who also have small planes and can land in rural parts of the country and can safely transport women to larger urban centers," she said. "That's an example of the sort of help that people across our country are now willing to give to women. I feel hopeful because over the weekend we had more than 1,000 people reach out to us."

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Why ballot measures are the next frontier in fight for reproductive freedom

Following an "enormous" win in Kansas this week, reproductive freedom advocates see ballot measures as a tool to protect—and potentially even expand—abortion rights under attack by anti-choice policymakers.

"We know that Kansas will not be our last fight, or our last victory."

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade this summer, 59% of Kansas voters on Tuesday said "no" to amending the state constitution and clearing the way for more abortion restrictions, including a ban.

"Kansans' victory this week over extremist state legislators showed us plainly: Ballot measures are the next frontier for protecting access to abortion care," said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which backs progressive ballot initiatives, in a statement Friday.

"We know that Kansas will not be our last fight, or our last victory."

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade this summer, 59% of Kansas voters on Tuesday said "no" to amending the state constitution and clearing the way for more abortion restrictions, including a ban.

"Kansans' victory this week over extremist state legislators showed us plainly: Ballot measures are the next frontier for protecting access to abortion care," said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which backs progressive ballot initiatives, in a statement Friday.

The results in Kansas boosted hopes among Democratic elected officials—including President Joe Biden—that a desire to protect reproductive rights will drive voters to the ballot box, as Republicans are working to take back control of Congress in November.

While the high court overturning Roe has fueled calls for congressional action, given that a few right-wing Democratic senators oppose filibuster reform and most GOP lawmakers oppose abortion rights, sending federal pro-choice legislation to Biden's desk will likely require expanding Democrats' numbers in the Senate.

"The enthusiasm gap—which normally favors the party out of power—is now closing, and there was no greater example of that than in Kansas," Patrick Gaspard, CEO of the Democrat-aligned Center for American Progress Action Fund, told reporters Wednesday. "This could be a signal for what's to come."

Time explained that Kansas' results on Tuesday defied expectations that amendment opponents would be at a disadvantage because the vote aligned with primaries in which Kansans could only participate if they were registered with a party—meaning that unlike the state's 44% of Republicans and 26% of Democrats, its 29% of unaffiliated voters "aren't used to voting in primaries at all."

Noting the "unusually high turnout" in Kansas, Time reported:

At least 908,700 people voted on the ballot measure, compared to the roughly 456,000 people who turned out for the 2018 primaries, according to the Kansas secretary of state's office. The increase in voter turnout can be directly traced to the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 24. That day, voter registration surged 1,000%, and among people who registered on or after June 24, Democrats held an eight-point advantage, according to Tom Bonier, CEO of political data firm TargetSmart. Seventy percent of those voters who registered on or after June 24 were women.

The results may also provide a hint about how many Republicans may disagree with their party leaders on abortion: a sizable portion of the at least 534,000 'no' votes on the ballot initiative likely came from Republicans, says Miles Coleman, the associate editor of the election forecaster 'Sabato's Crystal Ball' at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

"Anti-abortion politicians put this amendment on the primary ballot with the goal of low voter turnout, but they discounted Kansans, who said loud and clear they believe and trust patients to make their own medical decisions—especially during a dark moment in history when people across the Midwest and South are not afforded that same freedom," declared Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.

"This historic victory was the result of a groundswell of grassroots support and a broad coalition of reasonable, thoughtful Kansans across the state who put healthcare over politics," she added. "We have seen the devastation caused by a loss of access to abortion in neighboring states and… Kansans saw through the deception of anti-abortion interests to ensure people in their state retained their rights. Now, more than ever, our work continues."

Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, suggested that "as the first state to vote on abortion rights following the fall of Roe v. Wade, Kansas is a model for a path to restoring reproductive rights across the country through direct democracy."

"From Michigan to Nevada, we have the opportunity to protect abortion access at the ballot box in November," she pointed out. "We know that Kansas will not be our last fight, or our last victory."

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee president Jessica Post also took the results in Kansas as a signal of what could happen later this year.

The "vote in a traditionally red state resoundingly shows that Republicans are extremely out of touch on the issue of abortion—even with their own base of voters," Post said. "Kansans' rejection of the GOP's amendment underscores this growing backlash against Republican attacks on reproductive freedom and is just a glimpse of what is waiting for them this fall."

More Perfect Union on Friday outlined some of the state ballot measures voters will soon face:

  • Kentucky: Kentucky will have a ballot measure similar to the one in Kansas, asking voters to amend the constitution to ban abortion. A near-total abortion ban went into effect immediately after the Supreme Court decision.
  • Montana: The anti-choice ballot measure asks voters to approve a proposal stating all infants who are "born alive" after an "abortion attempt" have a right to medical care. The measure would establish a $50,000 fine and possible 20-year prison sentence for breaking the law.
  • Michigan: Abortion rights supporters recently turned in a record number of signatures for a proposed initiative. If certified and formally approved, the ballot measure would let voters add protections for abortion and other reproductive health services into the state constitution.
  • California: Voters will decide in November whether to create explicit constitutional rights to abortion and contraception. The initiative would prohibit the state from denying or interfering with "an individual's reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions."
  • Vermont: The Vermont ballot measure is similar to California's, asking voters to enshrine the "right to personal reproductive autonomy" in state law.

The 19th noted last month that "abortion-related ballot measures, whether as a proposal by a state legislature or a citizen-led initiative, have historically been led by anti-abortion lawmakers and groups. That may begin to shift: The ballot measures in California and Vermont, and possibly Michigan, represent the first time that voters will consider constitutional protections to abortion access."

Hall of the Fairness Project told Politico earlier this week that "ballot initiatives are a phenomenally powerful tool when there's a disconnect between the popularity of an issue and what's being enacted by politicians. And every poll in the country shows that disconnect when it comes to abortion rights.

"This is really the next frontier," she said, "and already advocates are starting to think about the pathways for 2023 and 2024."

Although not all U.S. states allow citizen-led efforts to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, many that do are "right on the frontlines of the battle for reproductive freedom," Hall added. "No matter where you live, there is hope on the horizon."

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