The Heritage Clinic for Women, the only procedural abortion clinic in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has closed due to the death of its medical director and gynecologist, Dr. Thomas Gordon. Patients in need of procedural abortions now have to travel hours to find alternate services. This has increased wait times at the next closest center, Planned Parenthood’s Kalamazoo health center, and further reduced the already limited number of facilities in the state that offer this service.
Grand Rapids’ Sole Procedural Abortion Clinic Closes
Grand Rapids, Michigan is left without a procedural abortion clinic following the demise of its medical director, Dr. Thomas Gordon. The Heritage Clinic for Women, which has been offering these services since 1973, now leaves patients seeking alternatives far from the city.
“The only remaining procedural abortion provider in West Michigan is the Kalamazoo health center of Planned Parenthood of Michigan,” says Planned Parenthood’s Chief Medical Operating Officer, Dr. Sarah Wallett. Although the Grand Rapids branch of Planned Parenthood still provides medication abortion services, this option is only available to the 11th week of pregnancy.
Wallett expressed her concern over the community’s loss, pointing out its effect on patients across West Michigan. She highlighted that there are only around a dozen clinics in the state offering procedural abortion services.
Regulations Impede New Facilities
Dr. Wallett also lamented the fact that what abortion rights advocates term TRAP — Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers — laws, are making it harder for new facilities to open. “The rules for providing procedural abortions are stricter than those for medication abortions. They require specific settings that meet additional codes which are not safety-related, but are hard and expensive to maintain,” Wallett explained.
Increased Wait Times and Travel Distances
The closure has led to increased waiting times at the Kalamazoo branch of Planned Parenthood. Although most US abortions are medication abortions, some prefer procedural abortions. Wallett voiced her concern over the hardships patients now face. “It’s not just the financial cost of driving and taking time off work. There’s also the burden of arranging child care while traveling long distances for the procedure. This makes access to abortion significantly more challenging,” she concluded.
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