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1 of Idaho’s 3 Planned Parenthood clinics has closed as abortion access fears grow

Planned Parenthood on Harbor Lane in Boise has closed. A sign on the front doors advises that services have been moved to alternate locations.  (Darin Oswald)
By Nicole Blanchard Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Planned Parenthood’s oldest Idaho location in Boise – in the city with the largest population – has closed, the organization told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday.

The closure of the Boise medical center leaves two Planned Parenthood locations in the state, in Meridian and in Twin Falls, as concerns over abortion access in Idaho have escalated.

The Boise Planned Parenthood, which was located at 3668 N. Harbor Lane off of State Street, closed June 1. The property was listed for sale through Keller Williams Commercial for $999,000. A sign on the former clinic’s door directs patients to Meridian or Twin Falls.

Katie Rodihan, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said it was one of five clinic closures in the region following “a comprehensive review of all of our health centers and patient needs across all six of our states.” Rodihan said the review was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s “likely overturning of Roe v. Wade,” the landmark case that outlined abortion rights.

Rodihan said patients can still visit the Meridian or Twin Falls location and said Planned Parenthood invested heavily in telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic. The organization will soon begin offering gender-affirming care in Idaho through telemedicine, she said.

Three of the six states in Planned Parenthood’s Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky region, including Idaho, are likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Rodihan said Planned Parenthood will shift its focus in those states to offer contraception or help patients access abortion services in states where the procedure remains legal.

The Boise Planned Parenthood location was one of four medical facilities – including the organization’s two other locations and a private medical practice in Boise – offering abortion services in Idaho.

Dr. Kara Cadwallader, chief medical officer for the Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, told the Statesman in December that abortions make up a small fraction of the clinics’ services. They also provide contraception, screening for sexually transmitted infections, family planning, breast cancer screening and other medical care.

Idaho laws would outlaw abortion, allow family to sue providers

The closure comes as concerns over abortion access are at a fever pitch.

Idaho stands poised to ban abortions altogether if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which established a woman’s right to an abortion, as well as a timeline for when abortion procedures could take place. A draft opinion leaked last month showed justices intend to overturn both cases, returning control of abortion to the states. The court is expected to issue its final opinion this month.

Planned Parenthood is suing the state of Idaho over a law passed in March that allows some family members to sue medical professionals who provide abortions for a minimum of $20,000. The Idaho Supreme Court temporarily halted the law from implementation while the lawsuit is pending.

Idaho’s new law would apply to any abortion performed after roughly six weeks – when lawmakers said a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected.

Physicians have said the heartbeat is better described as electrical activity and occurs often before women know they’re pregnant.

Idaho has a trigger law in place that would effectively ban all abortions if control is returned to states. The Idaho law, passed last year, would make it a felony for any medical professional to perform an abortion. The only exceptions are in instances when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest – and then only if the crime was reported to law enforcement.

“We’re not anticipating any decrease in demand for abortion care in Idaho, even if full trigger ban goes into effect,” Rodihan said. “We remain fully committed to the state of Idaho. We will continue to be a presence no matter what the Idaho state laws look like.”