Planned Parenthood expands in Kansas with Pittsburg clinic

Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ Pittsburg health center will offer abortions, contraception and other care beginning this fall.



May 16, 2024 - 2:12 PM

Planned Parenthood’s Wichita clinic has provided care to out-of-state patients for years. Photo by ROSE CONLON/KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

WICHITA, Kansas — Planned Parenthood Great Plains is expanding in Kansas in the face of immense demand for abortions in the state, driven by a surge of people traveling from states with abortion bans.

The organization is planning to open a new health center in Pittsburg, Kansas, later this year, according to the organization’s president and CEO, Emily Wales. It will initially offer abortions — both medication and procedural — as well as contraception, and sexually transmitted infection and HIV testing and treatment. The clinic will eventually offer gender-affirming care and vasectomies.

Wales said the move will allow the organization to expand its capacity to provide abortions in Kansas, making it easier for patients in Kansas and across the broader region to secure appointments.

“In this moment of the abortion crisis, we could be in no better place than southeast Kansas,” she said. “We cannot have too many appointments for the amount of people who are desperate for care right now.”

The clinic is slated to open in the fall. Wales said construction on the building is underway and the organization will begin hiring staff shortly.

It will be the third clinic providing abortions to open in Kansas since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, prompting many surrounding states to severely restrict or ban abortion care. The result, according to data from the state health department and researchers, has been an unprecedented swell of patients crossing state lines to access procedures and pills that are now outlawed where they live.

Many are turning to Kansas, where providers say they can’t come close to meeting the demand — forcing many patients to travel even further from home.

The Pittsburg clinic will be Planned Parenthood’s fourth health center in the state and its first in southeast Kansas.

Wales said the organization chose Pittsburg for the new health center, in part, to help alleviate intense demand for abortions at its Wichita clinic, which has become one of the closest access points for large swaths of the South and Midwest.

But she said the new clinic will also help address a lack of access to health care in Pittsburg and the surrounding region.

“There are not enough health care providers there,” she said, “and there are certainly not enough providers of sexual and reproductive care — particularly gender-affirming services.”

Wales noted that Crawford County residents are more likely to have an STI than Kansans overall, according to a Kansas Health Institute analysis. A report by the reproductive rights group Power to Decide indicated 37% of Crawford County women ages 13-44 are in need of publicly funded contraception.

Abortion opponents criticized the announcement. In an email, Danielle Underwood, a spokesperson for the anti-abortion advocacy group Kansans for Life, drew a contrast between the new clinic and anti-abortion pregnancy centers — which provide resources to people with unplanned pregnancies but often discourage them from getting abortions.

“As we predicted, the abortion industry is moving quickly to open more abortion facilities … While they profit off a woman’s vulnerability, pregnancy resource centers will continue to offer no cost support to any woman who wants a caring and compassionate alternative,” Underwood said.

Record demand at a Wichita clinic

Dr. Lydia Prevost, a family medicine physician who provides abortions at Planned Parenthood’s Kansas clinics, sees the consequences of abortion bans in neighboring states first-hand. Often, she said, it means patients can’t get an abortion appointment until further into their pregnancy, making the procedure more complicated.

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