In­de­pen­dent abor­tion providers clos­ing at an ‘alarm­ing rate’

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union at­tor­neys went to fed­eral court Sept. 6, seek­ing to over­turn leg­is­la­tion that could close the last abor­tion clinic in Ken­tucky.

EMW Women's Sur­gi­cal Cen­ter pro­vides safe and le­gal abor­tion care in the state, but the clinic faces on­go­ing threats from GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.

Ken­tucky leg­is­la­tion re­quires that doc­tors who per­form abor­tions have ad­mit­ting priv­i­leges at a nearby hospi­tal. The ACLU ar­gues this reg­u­la­tion is un­con­sti­tu­tional, point­ing to the 2016 Supreme Court rul­ing in Whole Woman’s Health v. Heller­st­edt that struck down sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion in Texas.

That case was brought by Whole Woman's Health, an in­de­pen­dent provider in Texas. Such providers are clos­ing at an alarm­ing rate, ac­cord­ing to Nikki Mad­sen, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Abor­tion Care Net­work.

In­de­pen­dent clin­ics — not pri­vate physi­cians' of­fices, hos­pi­tals or na­tional af­fil­i­ated health cen­ters like Planned Par­ent­hood — pro­vide the ma­jor­ity of abor­tion care in the United States. In nine states — Arkansas, Ge­or­gia, Ken­tucky, Mis­sis­sippi, Ne­vada, North Dakota, Ok­la­homa, West Vir­ginia and Wy­oming — in­de­pen­dent cen­ters are the only providers of in-clinic abor­tions.

The in­de­pen­dent model dates to the years af­ter the Supreme Court's land­mark rul­ing in Roe v. Wade, when fem­i­nists and physi­cians be­gan open­ing com­mu­ni­ty­based out­pa­tient cen­ters to pro­vide af­ford­able care.

About 28 per­cent of in­de­pen­dent clin­ics have closed in the past five years, ac­cord­ing to ACN's “Com­mu­ni­ties Need Clin­ics,” a re­view based on data col­lected be­tween June 2015 and July 2017 from ev­ery clinic in the United States that pub­licly dis­closes pro­vid­ing abor­tion care.

ACN says 145 clin­ics have closed since 2012, leav­ing 365 clin­ics op­er­at­ing in the United States. Ten clin­ics closed this year, 19 in 2016, 33 in 2015, 23 in 2014, 40 in 2013 and 20 in 2012.

From the re­port: “When clin­ics close, pa­tients are forced to travel far­ther, find overnight lodg­ing, take ad­di­tional time away from work and find child care, in­creas­ing both med­i­cal and per­sonal outof-pocket costs. Pa­tients are also forced to wait longer to ac­cess care, may not be able to ac­cess the method of their choice and, in some cases, may not be able to ob­tain an abor­tion at all.”

Ad­vo­cates for re­pro­duc­tive free­dom and ac­cess to abor­tion say anti-choice law­mak­ers are driv­ing the clinic clo­sures. In the past six years, states have passed 338 laws to limit ac­cess to abor­tion care.

Even if the mea­sures even­tu­ally are ruled un­con­sti­tu­tional — as was the case last year in Wis­con­sin, Alabama, Mis­sis­sippi and Texas, “dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects have out­lasted the leg­is­la­tion,” ac­cord­ing to ACN.

Twenty clin­ics closed in Texas be­fore the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against HB2 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Heller­st­edt. Only two clin­ics re­opened.


60 per­cent: In­de­pen­dent clin­ics 35 per­cent: Planned Par­ent­hood 4 per­cent: Hos­pi­tals

1 per­cent: Physi­cians' of­fices Source: Abor­tion Care Net­work —L.N.

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