Planned Parenthood to start offering abortions in Naples next month

August 24th, 2009 by
Planned Parenthood of Collier County will begin offering abortion services Sept. 14 after laying the groundwork for the past year to start the service, according to local clinic directors

Letters are being sent Monday to 350 local obstetricians/gynecologists, internists, and family practitioners letting them know the clinic will start performing first-trimester abortions and for referrals, said Char Wendel, president and chief executive officer of the local Planned Parenthood.

“The letters are only going to Collier doctors. However, we will serve women from other communities,” she said.

Wendel met with officials from the NCH Healthcare System this past week to let them know and to arrange for NCH hospitals to accept patients if something goes wrong after clinic hours, although first-trimester abortions are a low-risk procedure, she said.

Abortion has not been available in Collier since 1996 when Dr. Wallace McLean stopped performing it because of opponents protesting outside his Naples office and his home. Since then, women have had to travel to Miami or Fort Myers for an abortion.

Planned Parenthoods in Sarasota, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach offer abortion services but that’s not the case for all Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida. For instance, Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers does not do clinical abortions but it does offer the abortion pill.

“By the end of 2010, all will be doing abortions,” Wendel said.

In Collier, Planned Parenthood has hired a Cape Coral physician, Dr. Philip Waterman, to perform the outpatient procedure. He does abortions at other Planned Parenthood sites in the state.

Patients must schedule appointments and abortions will only be done on Mondays. No other medical services will be offered on that day. The cost for an abortion will be $475 and insurance will be accepted. A sliding scale fee will be available to uninsured women based on income.

The Collier clinic will do abortions in cases of rape and incest but will not accept Medicaid for reimbursement, which in Florida pays when the crime has been proven.

“We will do abortions for rape or incest but we will not accept government funding for it,” Wendel said.

Starting in October, the clinic will offer the abortion pill, which can be used up to the ninth week of pregnancy, but that is not to be confused with emergency contraception which prevents pregnancy, she said.

The chapter’s 12-member board of directors had been talking about offering abortions for quite some time, even when the clinic moved to its current location at 1425 Creech Road in 2001. Likewise, supporters and donors have been inquiring why the clinic had not been offering it, Wendel said.

“I think it’s going to offer a service to the community that has been missing for a long time and should be available and it’s a service that we hope gets used appropriately,” said Paul Kardon, chairman of the local Planned Parenthood board of directors and a retired obstetrician/gynecologist. “Planned Parenthood has excellent protocols, I met at length with Dr. Waterman and I am very impressed with him. He is superbly trained. His motivation and beliefs in women’s reproductive health and freedom is wonderful.”

Kardon expects Planned Parenthood’s decision will have the support of the medical community.

“We feel we have a job to do for our community, that people in our community should not have to leave it to get appropriate medical care,” Kardon said.

For years, abortion opponents have demonstrated outside Planned Parenthood on Saturday mornings and on the annual anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in 1973. The protesting is expected to continue. Planned Parenthood has enhanced its security cameras around the property.

“My biggest fear is there will be people out there trying to deny women access to this service and will be trying to deny access to other services,” Wendel said.

Joe Hennessy, president of the Naples Pro-Life Council, said members were shocked by the news Friday.

“We’re very upset to hear this, we think it’s going to be a sad day for Naples. Different towns have abortion clinics and up until now, for whatever reason, Naples was not a place associated with abortion,” Hennessy said. “I just think it’s going to be a shock to people who live in Naples, for people who consider sleepy little Naples, like it used to be called, that you now can get an abortion.”

Hennessy could not say whether he will expect more abortion opponents to demonstrate outside the clinic starting today.

“I’m no good at guessing,” he said. “I think it has to sink in,” he said. “Quite truthfully, it is a terrible shock.”

Wendel said they estimate 1,600 women in Collier have an abortion somewhere each year, based on the number of live births and a formula by the Guttmacher Institute to project abortion utilization in the United States. The Guttmacher Institute, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., was founded in 1968 as a semi-autonomous division of The Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

About half of American women have experienced an unintended pregnancy and, at current rates, more than one third will have had an abortion by the time they reach 45 according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Planned Parenthood from a national perspective is the largest abortion provider because of the number of clinic locations, Wendel said. But that is not the case in Florida, she said. In Florida, there are 100,000 abortions a year and Planned Parenthood did about 8,000 abortions last year, she said.

“A lot of private doctors do abortions,” Wendel said.

When a woman makes an appointment for an abortion, the protocol includes counseling before and an ultrasound to ensure she is in her first trimester.

“She is offered the opportunity to look at the ultrasound,” Wendel said, adding that all women will be given a year’s worth of birth control.

One Response

  1. The Masked Blogger

    Based on what I’ve seen lately, we could use a lot more abortions. If “God” is so “pro life”, then why do so many fertilized eggs never make it to full term? That was pretty clever,so I’m going to treat myself to a beer.

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