Planned Parenthood quietly opened a new abortion clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, this summer, a location that didn’t get much attention until Kansans affirmed abortion rights with the historic vote. of Tuesday.
The new health center at 60th Street and Leavenworth Road opened on June 28, shortly after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, spokeswoman Anamarie Rebori Simmons said. Missouri and Oklahoma both enacted trigger bans following the ruling.
Planned Parenthood began planning the Wyandotte County location in 2019, Simmons said.
Plagued by construction delays, it opened with fanfare and is operating with shorter hours while staff are still hired, Simmons said.
“We recognize that Tuesday night’s overwhelming response from Kansans indicated that access to abortion could be protected statewide, we recognized the need for additional care, both sexual and reproductive health and primary care, in Kansas City, Kansas, long before Tuesday and the Supreme Court ruling,” Simmons said.
“This was an important next step for us in terms of access to care. But the need was recognized long before Tuesday.
Before this clinic opened, Kansas had four centers that offered abortions: two in Overland Park and two in Wichita.
“What we know as a health service provider, when care isn’t available locally, it’s not really accessible,” said Emily Wales, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Great Plains on Wednesday. “Many patients can figure out how to cross state lines.”
But for some, the trip is complicated by the cost of travel and its coordination with childcare. And for these patients, “they will not have access to care. We are therefore committed to providing it in the four states we serve.
The proposed constitutional amendment would have paved the way for the state legislature to further restrict or ban abortion in the state.
Anti-abortion activists campaigning for the amendment had argued that Kansas’ constitutional right to abortion would make the state a destination for the procedure.
In a statement, Jeanne Gawdun, spokesperson for Kansans for Life, pointed to the clinic as confirmation.
“For months we have told the public that Kansas was created as an abortion destination. It is sad that the media has waited so long to cover this because the women and babies in our state are the ones who will suffer from it. consequences,” Gawdun said in an email.
“We expect this to be the first in a long series of heartbreaking confirmations that the Kansans were deliberately misled by the abortion industry and its allies about the consequences of adopting or defeating of the Value Them Both amendment”.
Providers, including Planned Parenthood, told The Star last month that they’ve been getting more calls from out-of-state women, but can’t keep up with the demand. . The limited number of clinics in Kansas, combined with restrictive abortion laws, meant more patients were seeking care in New Mexico, Illinois and Colorado, they said.
According to the Planned Parenthood website, the Wyandotte Health Center in Kansas City, Kansas provides services such as abortion, birth control, HIV testing services, pregnancy tests and services, and health care. for women and men.
It is the first such clinic to operate in Wyandotte County since Aid for Women closed in 2014.
The clinic had been rumored. In April, anti-abortion activists staged a protest at the site and at the Wyandotte pregnancy clinic six blocks away, according to Wyandotte Daily.
Simmons said the protests were part of the reason the opening was not widely publicized.
When choosing clinic locations, Planned Parenthood considers the number of health care providers already present in a community, Simmons said.
This area of Wyandotte County “has been identified as a community where there may be a need for additional providers,” she said.
As of 2018, the only abortion clinics in the Kansas City area were Planned Parenthood in Overland Park and the Overland Park Center for Women’s Health.
Even before Missouri banned most abortions in June, women from Missouri were coming to Kansas for abortions. In 2021, 44% of abortions in Kansas were among Missouri residents. For at least five years, more than 40% of Kansas abortions have been performed on Missouri patients.
Abortion clinics in Kansas were inundated with calls after Roe v. Wade, but could not meet the demand.
Simmons said Planned Parenthood is “always looking for ways to expand access where we can.” But right now, after Tuesday’s victory, everyone is taking a breather before looking to the future.
Wales said abortion care in that part of the country was already regional before Roe v. Wade is canceled. “We didn’t have enough providers in the Midwest and South, so patients were often looking across state lines,” she said.
Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, Great Plains system health centers received twice as many calls as they usually do, she said, calls from Texas as well, “because the people were jostling.”
“At the end of the day, Kansas still only has five” abortion clinics, she said.
Trust Women, a clinic in Wichita, recently completed renovations to expand its capacity.
In a statement after Tuesday’s vote, the clinic indicated its intention to expand access statewide. The clinic is currently engaged in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Kansas’ ban on telemedicine abortions.
“Our priority in the months and years to come will be to continue to provide high-quality abortion care to Kansans and pregnant women in the region, as well as to organize and organize legislative work to expand and restore a meaningful access to local abortions for all Kansans,” the statement said.
This story was originally published August 5, 2022 4:45 p.m.