Supporting Planned Parenthood is something that’s always been a part of the
pro-choice movement. It’s easy, because they are the most well-known provider of abortions and reproductive health care in the US. But by no means is Planned Parenthood the only type of abortion clinic. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 90% of abortions occur in private clinics. In the wake of the closure of a ground-breaking feminist health center in Yakima, we need to talk about supporting independent providers.
It’s important to remember that one type of clinic is not necessarily better than the other, and that women have different experiences no matter where they go for reproductive health care. What’s different about an independent abortion provider compared to Planned Parenthood? A lot of things. Amie at RH Reality Check explains how the origins of the Yakima clinic’s pro-woman policies, saying, “The reproductive and sexual health care provided was distinctly feminist with a focus on ensuring that each woman retained decision making power over her body and her care – care which was as supportive, woman-focused and non-judgmental as possible.”
Independent abortion providers follow a small business model and are often not beholden to red tape and bureaucracy (except for those pesky anti-choice TRAP laws). What does this mean in practice, for women who go to these clinics? Care that is tailored to their individual needs, clinics that can feel more like spas instead of medical facilities, and access to staff who are trained in specifically feminist or woman-center care. This can mean anything from getting to spend 45 minutes with a counselor talking about pregnancy options to the ability to talk to the doctor for as long as needed before the procedure.
I’m not going to tackle the possible connections between the closure of independent clinics and the rise of Planned Parenthood — Amie does so quite artfully in her piece above. We need to make sure women have all options available to them when choosing where to have their abortions or where to go for prenatal care. While Planned Parenthood is a great option for some people, it’s not for everyone. As reproductive justice activists, it’s our responsibility to defend and support every person’s ability to decide for him or herself where they receive care. In order for everyone to have these options, we need to value independent clinics.