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Planned Parenthood opens local facility

Abortions available in Juneau for first time in a decade

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2009

Planned Parenthood opened Thursday afternoon. For the first time in more than a decade, Juneau women can now get abortions without flying to Seattle, Sitka or Anchorage.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Workers at the clinic near Twin Lakes said they'd been well-received.

"It's really exciting," said Pamela Lynn, previously an area services manager at the Western Washington Planned Parenthood, who is helping the clinic open.

Walk-in clients showed up before the clinic even opened, she said.

But not everyone welcomes Planned Parenthood. Abortion opponents picketed outside the day before the clinic opened. But Thursday, the Twin Lakes grounds were quiet of protest.

"Since it's the state capital, we do expect protests," Lynn said.

Employees are trained not to interact with protesters, she said.

The nonprofit Planned Parenthood's most controversial service is abortion, with or without surgery. But the clinic also provides family planning, women's annual exams, contraception, testing and cures for sexually transmitted infections.

In the lobby, a bucket of free condoms was labeled "Love carefully," and educational pamphlets lined one wall.

"We're big on education," said Lynn.

Minors don't need parental consent for surgical abortions in Alaska. That's also true for nonsurgical abortions, which require a patient to take medicine at home. But a clinician may request a parent's involvement and has discretion to decide whether a patient is ready for the procedure.

According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, 1,701 abortions were performed in Alaska in 2007, a drop of 11.5 percent from the 1,923 abortions in 2006.

The clinic charges fees using a sliding scale based on income. Juneau clinic manager Rosie Humphery said she expects the clinic will handle 20 to 25 clients a day.

Planned Parenthood has Alaska clinics in Anchorage, Soldotna, Sitka and Fairbanks, and has nearly 880 clinics nationwide, according to its Web site.

• Contact reporter Kate Golden at 523-2276 or kate.golden@juneauempire.com.



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