Supporting Planned Parenthood Is Great, But Abortion Clinics Need Help Too
Donating to Planned Parenthood, as well as to other national organizations like NARAL and the Center for Reproductive Rights, can show support for abortion rights. (Because federal funding for women's health care does not go to abortion.)
But abortion only makes up 3 percent of services provided at Planned Parenthood.
This info is especially relevant today, which marks National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.
The majority of abortions in the United States are actually provided by independent clinics around the country.
Nikki Madsen, executive director of the Abortion Care Network, a national association of 82 clinics, told Elite Daily,
Our clinics have been there since the beginning and are just holding strong in those areas. [...] They're very committed to keeping the promise of abortion care wherever they're located, and they're willing to go above and beyond to fight the TRAP laws that are trying to close clinic doors.
Being independent, the clinics are adaptable to changes. As local organizations, they reflect the communities they serve. But they don't have the infrastructure or national recognition that large groups do.
Many of the independent clinics are located in abortion battleground states like Alabama, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. They tend to provide specialized care not available elsewhere.
For instance, the ACN includes the Cherry Hill Women's Center, the only clinic to provide surgical abortion in south New Jersey.
In some states, like North Dakota, independent providers are the only people giving abortions.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, explained how they've pretty much been the only provider in the lightly populated state.
The clinic only performs abortion services on one day a week, but still, they "can manage the patient demand that there is in North Dakota."
Although they're managing, there are protesters outside every week. Kromenaker said protests got worse after Barack Obama was elected, likely reflecting fear from pro-lifers that a pro-choice president would ease restrictions.
But protesters have remained since Trump was elected.
Meanwhile, Red River is an easy target for people trying to end abortion in a state.
The clinic faced a slew of laws in the past few years, which failed to shut it down. Kromenaker theorizes that's part of the reasons protests haven't stopped.
If laws don't work, the thought goes, maybe intimidation will.
Violent intimidation wasn't enough to stop abortion providers in Kansas.
Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider, was assassinated at his church by an anti-abortion extremist in Wichita, Kansas in 2009.
A few months later, Julie A. Burkhart, his colleague of seven years, founded Trust Women, a nonprofit that opens abortion clinics.
Burkhart told Elite Daily,
I knew in my heart that it was incredibly important for people in more hostile areas of the country to continue to have access to reproductive health care.
Burkhart, the CEO of Trust Women, said it's difficult to deal with state regulations and massive legal bills, but it's "priceless" to help women have freedom and "to come to work every day and do meaningful work."
That meaningful care extends beyond providing abortions.
The Allentown Women's Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for instance, has been extending care for LGBTQ+ patients.
The center currently serves 200 transgender patients, which skyrocketed up from 120 last year.
Kim Chiz, executive director and director of nursing, sees similarities between LGBTQ+ patients and those seeking abortions.
They're stigmatized also. They're at risk for violence and other kinds of things as well.
In addition to abortions, the center provides HRT hormonal therapy, permanent sterilization, anal pap smears and endometrial biopsies, among other services.
We really are trying to build a practice where marginalized people […] feel safe and affirmed and welcome and that they can get the care they need here.
Extra care at independent abortion clinics encompasses a wide spectrum of sexual and racial identities.
The Feminist Women's Health Center in Atlanta, Georgia has programming that reflects the city's diversity. This includes the Black Women's Wellness Project, and the Lifting Latina Voices Initiative.
Kwajelyn Jackson, director of community education and advocacy at Feminist, said the mission of those initiatives is to make women "as equipped as possible to be the author of their own lives."
The center has extensive education programs and also works with state laws. Because Georgia hasn't been hit with a wave of attempted TRAP laws, the center has been able to push for pro-active legislature.
This includes the Whole Woman's Health Act introduced this year. Following the Whole Woman's Supreme Court ruling, this act says that abortion laws have to balance health and safety against obstacles created.
There are a variety of ways to support independent clinics.
While the clinics appreciate that you donate to national organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, you can also donate to independent clinics if abortion is a specific issue you care about.
The Abortion Care Network takes donations, and the clinics that are nonprofit do as well. Other than that, there are abortion funds that help women get abortions.
If you have the time, you could volunteer at your local clinic. Jackson said,
We love having volunteers, training volunteers, equipping this next generation of leaders. I would encourage people to find the local clinics in their area and see if they have a volunteer program.
Volunteering can range from being clinic escorts to planting flowers outside the center.
You can also voice your support to representatives in the government, the people around you and to the clinics themselves. You can send letters of support to local clinics -- but use postcards, not envelopes, for safety reasons.
When people stop whispering about their support and can talk about it in a louder, prouder way, I think people see that there are many many other like-minded people who live in this part of the country, but are a little afraid to come out.
Ultimately, just talking about your support for abortion helps both the providers and patients.
We can all do something to help.