In the community

Planned Parenthood to open long-planned clinic in Ontario Thursday

ONTARIO – Planned Parenthood in Ontario will open its long-planned clinic at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 9.

The clinic, using what officials say is a soft opening, will also be open Friday, March 10, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 23. 

 A formal opening date has not been determined, according to Kristi Scdoris, director of marketing and communication with Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette. The Portland organization last year began leasing what had been the clinic for Four Rivers Health Care at 640 S.W. 4th Ave. in Ontario.

The clinic, according to Scdoris, will provide abortion care, pregnancy testing, birth control, testing for sexually transmitted disease testing and gender-affirming care for adults. The services are available to those in all of eastern Oregon and from Idaho, Scdoris said.

She said walk-in appointments are available, or people can call ahead for an appointment. 

There has long been a lack of access to reproductive health care in eastern Oregon, according to Scdoris.  

With a strict abortion law in Idaho going into effect last year, out-of-state patients from Idaho have to travel nearly 400 miles from Boise for an abortion, Scdoris said. 

The Idaho legislation bans medical professionals from performing abortions if fetal cardiac activity is detected, which generally occurs at about six weeks, according to an Idaho court petition filed by Planned Parenthood Great Northwest.

The Texas-style law gives relatives of a pregnant person the right to sue if a medical professional performs an abortion after cardiac activity is detected.

The Ontario location, Scdoris said, will reduce the number of miles patients have to travel. 

Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade, stripping away constitutional protections for those seeking an abortion, allows states to set regulations on the termination of pregnancies.

The high court’s decision has led to a patchwork of access across the country, resulting in a surge of people traveling across state lines for abortions. Oregon has some of the most robust abortion protections in the United States.

Currently, Oregon has no significant abortion restrictions – such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement, or limitations on publicly funded abortions – in place in other states.

In Oregon, it is legal to receive an abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Still, the Guttmacher Institute and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that pregnancies terminated past 21 weeks account for about 1% of all abortions and 90% of all abortions occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Oregon requires insurance companies to cover abortion and the state picks up the cost for Medicaid patients, the uninsured and undocumented immigrants.

Last year, the Oregon Legislature approved $15 million in state funding for clinics to expand services and access to abortion across the state in anticipation of Idaho enacting one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

In 2020, Idaho lawmakers barred nearly all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the pregnant person’s life.

John Kirby, an Ontario city councilor and a staunch supporter of the high court’s decision said that while he disagrees with the clinic’s opening, the state law stipulates that local governments could not interfere with an organization such as Planned Parenthood opening in Ontario. Kirby emphasized that he was speaking on his own behalf and his opinions do not reflect those of the city. 

He said the opening of the Planned Parenthood Clinic underscores the stark difference in his conservative values compared to the left-leaning politics that govern the rest of the state. 

“Because of where we live, in my mind, I identify more as an Idahoan than we do as Oregonian, but we have to live by Oregon law. And in this case, where you take the life of a child, to me, that’s wrong,” Kirby said. 

Scdoris said the clinic would include local staff and some providers from other areas.  

She said the clinic would have “robust and comprehensive” security and that the safety of staff, patients and the community is a priority. 

“We have had a number of valuable conversations and have expanded our relationship with state and local law enforcement, including the Ontario Police department, to ensure we have the support and resources ready to jump into action as needed,” Scdoris said. Those looking for more information, or interested in making an appointment can call 888-576-7526 or go to its website.

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