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Oregon’s only abortion clinic east of the Cascades braces for more patients

The front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bend, Oregon, on June 28, 2022, which expects to see an increase in those seeking services. The reversal of Roe v. Wade has led to trigger bans, like one in Idaho.
Joni Land
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The front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bend, Oregon, on June 28, 2022, which expects to see an increase in those seeking services. The reversal of Roe v. Wade has led to trigger bans, like one in Idaho.

While abortion remains legal in Oregon, many residents could still find it harder to access services once planned bans in other states go into effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade decision has already led to 13 states imposing bans on most or all abortions, according to the Washington Post.

Planned Parenthood’s Bend location — the only clinic in Oregon providing abortion services east of the Cascades — is expecting an increase in traveling patients, further straining a limited number of resources available.

That’s on top of the surge in patients they’re already seeing from Idaho, where demand for reproductive health services exceeds availability.

Kenji Nozaki, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette’s director of affiliate operations, said the organization’s clinic in Boise has a long waiting list and that more people are traveling to Bend for services.

Nozaki said calls to Oregon Planned Parenthood locations increased by 40% during the weekend after the Supreme Court announced its decision, and they cover a wide range of different services.

“Most of the calls that I’m hearing from our call center managers … they’re for abortions, they’re for vasectomies and they’re for long-acting reproductive contraception,” he said.

Idaho’s trigger ban, which will ban most abortions in the state later this summer, could result in even more Idahoans traveling long distances. Planned Parenthood is suing that state in an effort to block the ban.

Bend has one of three Planned Parenthood clinics in Oregon that provides surgical abortion procedures, Nozaki said.

When the majority of abortions become illegal in Idaho, many Oregonians could feel an impact as well. Nozaki said for many residents in Eastern Oregon, Idaho has often been the closest option for reproductive health care.

Those living near the state line in Ontario, for example, are an hour from the clinic in Boise, but more than three hours from Bend and Kennewick, Washington, the next closest clinics.

“There are Oregonians, for sure, that rely on Idaho for care that they’re no longer gonna have,” Nozaki said. “They’re gonna have to go elsewhere.”

Planned Parenthood has leased a building in Ontario, but has not provided any details on what services it will offer in the area. Nozaki said his organization is also looking at expanding to other areas of Oregon in the future, but he did not specify where.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Joni Land