March 26, 2013 in Idaho

Abortions rise 36 percent among Idaho women

Associated Press
 

BOISE — The number of abortions among Idaho women rose 36 percent between 2001 and 2011, with about 40 percent of the procedures happening in other states, according to a report released by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The number of abortions peaked at 2,348 in 2009 and fell to 2,005 in 2011. Agency figures also show a slight increase in the number of repeat abortion seekers and a more significant rise in the number of women opting for nonsurgical means to end their pregnancies, the Idaho Statesman reported today.

But some Idaho trends haven’t changed, according to the report. For example, Idaho has about two-fifths the national average of abortions per live births, and a large share, about 40 percent, occur in other states.

Every Idaho county had women traveling to another county or state to end their pregnancies in 2011. In northern Idaho, women likely traveled to the eastern Washington cities of Spokane and Pullman, where the nearest Planned Parenthood clinics are located. Washington made up about 72 percent of the out-of-state abortions between 2001 and 2011.

But the exporting of abortions might also be due to the lack of options in state for women seeking to end their pregnancies. Idaho has just two clinics that provide the services, in Boise and Twin Falls, and a third is expected to open next month in Meridian.

“When women need it, they find it difficult to access,” said Kristen Glundberg-Prossor, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.

Abortion services at Planned Parenthood cost $600 to $1,200, depending on the provider, Glundberg-Prossor said.

Few of the patients come for abortions, she pointed out. Most seek reproductive health and contraception services.

The Boise Health Center had 5,218 patients come for 8,087 visits in 2011 and the clinic performed 973 abortions that year. At the Twin Falls clinic, 203 of the 1,436 visits included abortions. Planned Parenthood found that Meridian would be convenient for many patients who have been driving to the Boise clinic, so it decided to open an office there, instead of in neighboring Canyon County.

The fact that many uninsured Idahoans will acquire health insurance in 2014, under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also motivated the organization to open the clinic.

“The brunt of our patients are women in their childbearing years, and they access more health care” that Planned Parenthood provides, such as testing for sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer screenings, well-woman checkups and yearly exams, Glundberg-Prossor said.

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