Planned Parenthood of Alaska announced last week it is opening an office in Juneau to provide sexual health education to area schools, the University of Alaska Southeast, community centers and other health and educational agencies.
Katherine Davey, the director of education and training for Planned Parenthood of Alaska who will head Juneau's office, said the organization eventually wants to open a clinic to provide abortion services, birth control, pregnancy testing, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, breast and cervical cancer screening and other services.
"We're a pro-choice organization and believe abortion should be a safe and legal option," she said. "But 98 percent of our efforts are to prevent unintended pregnancies and therefore the need for abortions."
Davey has worked for the organization in Anchorage since 1988. She provided prevention education to at-risk youths, training for peer education groups and sex health education classes for educators, counselors and nurses. She also has worked as adjunct professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, teaching courses in human sexuality.
Davey said she plans to visit middle school and high school classes in Juneau to present "age-appropriate and medically accurate" information on sexual development, healthy relationships, methods of birth control, sexually transmitted infections and teaching strategies for sexual health curricula.
"We present programs on abstinence as well as methods of birth control," she noted.
She also plans to speak to students at UAS, and resident assistants who work in the dormitory on sex health issues. The organization also plans to provide outreach to various social service agencies, such as teen residential treatment centers and rape crisis centers, Davey said.
The Juneau office will give Planned Parenthood an opportunity to attend local events such as health fairs, Davey said.
She said Planned Parenthood is uncertain if it will open a clinic in Juneau, but noted: "We could fill a need."
Planned Parenthood's Sitka clinic is the organization's lone clinic in Southeast. Davey said fundraising is the primary obstacle to opening a clinic in Juneau. The primary goal for the Juneau office will be to provide educational resources, she said.
She said the Planned Parenthood annually serves about 4,000 Alaskans at locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Sitka and Soldotna. That number includes men, women and teenagers, Davey said.
"A lot of people think that Planned Parenthood is just for teens," Davey said, noting that the clinics offer a broad range of services for everyone, ranging from annual exams to hormone replacement therapy.
For more information, contact the Juneau office at 321-7526, at P.O. Box 20389, Juneau, AK, 99802, or visit www.plannedparenthoodalaska.org.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at email@example.com.