Politics & Government

Planned Parenthood will provide abortion services at new health center near uptown

Pro-choice activists urge block on 2015 NC abortion proposal

Planned Parenthood and NARAL chapters in North Carolina rallied outside the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh in 2015, to pressure Gov. Pat McCrory not to sign a bill that would require a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed.
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Planned Parenthood and NARAL chapters in North Carolina rallied outside the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh in 2015, to pressure Gov. Pat McCrory not to sign a bill that would require a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed.

Planned Parenthood will open a new health center near uptown Charlotte next month, allowing it to provide abortion services in the city for the first time in decades.

The organization will move into a building on Torrence Street just off Kings Drive in June. It’ll begin offering services in July. Records show the property was purchased for $2.3 million in July 2017.

“Number one it shows our continued longstanding commitment to the community,” said Pam Pearson, who chairs the Planned Parenthood South Atlantic board of directors. “(And) that we’re committed to providing the full range of legal services . . . so our patients can access whatever care is necessary.”

The Planned Parenthood health center is certain to become a new flashpoint in the fight over abortion rights.

A private abortion clinic in east Charlotte has been the scene of protests for over a decade from activists who’ve called it “an abortion mill” and hope to change the minds of women who go there. Those protests have been the center of a debate over an updated city noise ordinance, which would prohibit amplified noise within 200 feet of medical facilities, houses of worship and schools. The ordinance passed a City Council committee in April, and would need to be approved by the full council.

But anti-abortion protesters say the ordinance violates their right to free speech. If passed, it would also apply to the new Planned Parenthood clinic.

City Council member Larken Egleston said the discussion about updating the noise ordinance came long before any plans for a new clinic. Still, he said the ordinance could help provide some relief for nearby neighbors. The facility is located near the Cherry community, across the street from single-family homes.

“It will provide some reasonable controls around people who are rightfully exercising their right to free speech and neighbors who are trying to exist in their community and in their homes,” he said.

And the Planned Parenthood announcement comes as North Carolina lawmakers try to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a controversial bill that details a doctor’s responsibilities if an attempted abortion results in a live birth. Cooper said the measure addresses a problem that doesn’t exist.

For Planned Parenthood, the new center will replace rented offices on Albemarle Road and double the space for services such as cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. It also will provide education programs.

Planned Parenthood says every year more than 3,300 women in Mecklenburg County need abortion services while another 4,700 from surrounding counties come for services. Forty-five percent of its patients lack health insurance.

“We’re very excited about finally having a health center in Charlotte that can meet the needs of the population and also meet the standard of care that Planned Parenthood has become known for,” said Jill Dinwiddie, who chaired the group’s $10 million fundraising campaign for the new center.

Planned Parenthood officials say the Kings Drive location was chosen for its accessibility and security. They know there will be protests and plan to have security and volunteers to support their clients.

“That’s something that’s always been happening,” said Joyce Bellamy, the group’s assistant director of operations and acting director of the Charlotte Health Center. “We’re not concerned. We’re prepared to make sure our patients feel safe.”

Pearson said the protesters focus only on abortion.

“They focus on only one aspect of the services we provide. They don’t seem to credit the rest of the services,” she said.

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