Abortion legislation creates waves of calls to Planned Parenthood

Hundreds of women in Georgia and Alabama are calling Planned Parenthood and asking the group whether abortion is still legal in their states.

Planned Parenthood Southeast, which covers Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, has gotten so many calls that it had to set up an automated phone line with more information, according to a spokeswoman.

The influx of calls started after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the “heartbeat” abortion bill into law last week. In the wake of the Alabama abortion bill being signed into law on Wednesday, the calls have continued, Planned Parenthood Southeast said.

The call center has been swamped, Planned Parenthood Southeast spokeswoman Barbara Ann Luttrell told CNN on Wednesday.

She said the deluge of calls “puts into perspective how deeply this hits the people of these states.” In the past, there has been anti-abortion legislation but it has not elicited this kind of “terrified reaction,” she said.

“We’ve been getting hundreds and hundreds of calls in addition to the normal volume of calls that we get just from people wanting to know if abortion is still legal in the state. There seems to be a lot of confusion and a lot of fear.”

Women who have abortion procedures scheduled are asking whether they need to arrive for their appointments sooner. Women in Georgia and Alabama are asking whether they will be prosecuted for potentially crossing state lines to seek out abortions. Others are simply calling in for clarification about the wording of the laws.

“We had a caller who called yesterday who is in a domestic violence situation and has an abortion appointment set up,” Luttrell said on Wednesday.

“She called in a panic wanting to know she needed to reschedule or cancel her appointment or move it up. Our call center was able to reassure her that in fact abortion is still safe, legal and available in the state and across the Southeast.”

The Georgia law won’t take effect until January 2020. The Alabama law will not take effect until six months after becoming law.

“It’s really alarming to us that folks don’t understand that they are still able to get the health care they are looking for,” Luttrell said.

If you press “3” on the automated phone line, you can hear about the Georgia measure from an automated female voice. An update with information on the Alabama law will soon be added, the spokeswoman said.

“The important thing to remember is that abortion is still safe legal and very much available in Georgia,” the message says.