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Planned Parenthood Resuming Abortion Services in Two Arizona Cities

December 16, 2011

PHOENIX - Four months after eliminating abortion services in rural Arizona, Planned Parenthood is expanding its locations in the state where abortions will be performed from three to five.

However, abortion services remain unavailable outside of the state's two largest cities, says Bryan Howard, Planned Parenthood Arizona's president.

"While we continue to work to identify physicians in rural communities to provide abortion care, we have so far been unable to do so. That means rural Arizona women must still travel to metro Phoenix and Tucson and face significant burdens as a result."

A new Arizona law prohibits abortions, even by abortion pill, unless performed by a physician. Planned Parenthood had offered abortion services at 10 of its 13 Arizona locations, including Prescott Valley, Flagstaff and Yuma. Abortions are being resumed in North Phoenix and Chandler.

It's difficult to find physicians to perform abortions in rural areas, Howard says, because of harassment and threats by anti-abortion groups at clinics and private homes.

"For the medical professionals, it's like we do know who could do it. It's who really wants to take that step."

Although overall abortions in the state are returning to levels seen before the new law took effect, Howard says the increased restrictions have reduced the number of rural women coming to Planned Parenthood.

"What we don't know is what happens to the patients who aren't coming to us or to another provider anymore. Are they going out of state? Are they just continuing pregnancies that they are unprepared for? And of course, right now we don't know the answer to that."

Howard emphasizes that all of Planned Parenthood's 13 Arizona locations continue to offer annual exams, cancer screenings and all Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of birth control.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ