Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced on Monday that it would keep its abortion clinic in Appleton closed. The reason for this, the organization says, is domestic terrorism. While some abortion opponents denounce threats of violence, they’re glad the clinic won’t reopen.
There are two abortion providers in the state - Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services, which only operates in Milwaukee.
Planned Parenthood will now offer abortions only in Madison and Milwaukee, according to spokeswoman Nicole Safar. “We determined that the facility and the site in Appleton could not be secured to the level that we need to in this sort of environment,” she says.
Safar did not cite specific threats.
She says state leaders’ recent attitude toward abortion providers hasn’t helped. “The continued restrictions that are being passed in our state capitol that limit action. Birth control and sex education and that limit action to abortions. Those certainly impact the overall environment of trying to be a woman’s health provider in the state of Wisconsin,” Safar says.
“There are women who will fall through the gaps. More and more women will be pregnant when they don’t want to be and also, we’re at risk of seeing increased maternal deaths,” Eliza Cussen says. She is executive director of the pro-choice advocacy group NARAL.
Cussen says she’s concerned about a possible increase in the number of people who attempt abortion at home, if they can’t travel hundreds of miles to the nearest provider.
Julaine Appling, president of the group Wisconsin Family Action, calls the change a win for women.
“Keeping a Planned Parenthood facility shuttered is in the best interest of women. They like to say as Planned Parenthood that they’re the only option for women in crisis pregnancies or for women who think they are, but we know that’s not true,” she says.
Appling says people should denounce violence against abortions clinics, such as the deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs facility last year. However, she does not believe Planned Parenthood is closing its Appleton facility because of security concerns. She believes the reason is either financial or the fact that people in that area are not seeking out abortions.
“I think I’m safe in saying this, I have not heard a large outcry from women in Appleton saying 'oh my word, this facility closed and what am I going to do,'” Appling says.
Appling says she believes women are finding the help they need, and she hopes they’re deciding to keep their babies.
The Appleton Planned Parenthood provided around 600 abortions in 2014.