A Planned Parenthood abortion clinic could be opened in Juneau within the year if abortion rights groups can raise about $45,000.
Planned Parenthood Alaska and the Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition have raised $80,000 toward the project so far, according to Alex Johnston, director of development for Planned Parenthood Alaska.
Once the groups have raised $125,000, a matching donation for an unspecified amount by an anonymous donor will complete the fund-raising phase of the project, Johnston said.
She said it would take about $500,000 to open a reproductive services clinic in Juneau that provides abortions. Once the money is raised, Planned Parenthood will write a business plan for the operation and begin looking for a place to set up shop, Johnston said.
"We'll look at the area and find a building that will meet our needs, or it is possible that the better thing to do is to build a building," Johnston said.
Although it could be as soon as six months when a clinic opens, Johnston said it could take much longer. She said it took Planned Parenthood about two years just to move a clinic to a different location in the Anchorage area.
"It's very specific to the community and real estate issues," she said.
Planned Parenthood masquerades under an image of compassion but "it's just a big business," said Sid Heidersdorf, vice president of the anti-abortion group Alaskans for Life.
"They're not a charitable organization, let's put it that way," he said.
Heidersdorf said it's been about 20 years since abortion services were provided in Juneau.
"It's sad news for Juneau in many ways," he said of the potential clinic.
If a clinic opens and abortions drop off, Planned Parenthood will close and leave, he said.
But LaRae Jones with the Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition said women in Southeast Alaska who seek an abortion now must fly to Anchorage or Seattle, because no abortion facility exists here.
"We've been fund-raising and will continue to until we get that match," she said. She said the fund-raising effort began in March 2003. "One nice-sized grant will do it, and we're hoping," she said.
Jones said Planned Parenthood provides many services other than abortions.
"Planned Parenthood is about education and the sexual health of all Alaskans - men and women," she said.
Johnston said Planned Parenthood also provides HIV testing, birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, sexually-transmitted-disease testing and treatment, cervical cancer screening, and other services.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at email@example.com.