(CNSNews.com) — A report released earlier this month by the pro-choice Abortion Care Network (ACN) found that independent abortion clinics in the United States are closing at an “unprecedented rate.”
The report, “Communities Need Clinics: Independent Abortion Care Providers and the Future of Abortion Access in the United States,” states that “independent clinics are closing at an unprecedented rate: the number of independent clinics has been reduced by nearly 28 percent since 2012.”
The ACN found that, as of November 2018, 370 independent clinics remain open, down from 510 in 2012, when the ACN first began tracking clinic closures. This year, 11 independent clinics have closed so far.
In addition, six states only have one abortion clinic: Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Missouri. Among these, four are independent clinics: Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and West Virginia.
According to the ACN, independent abortion clinics “collectively provide the majority of abortion care in the United States.” Independent clinics perform about 60 percent of abortions nationwide, even though only about 25 percent of all abortion facilities in the United States are independent clinics.
In other words, independent clinics serve 3 out of every 5 women who have abortions.
For comparison, Planned Parenthood clinics perform 35 percent of abortions in the United States, while hospitals perform 4 percent and physicians’ offices only perform 1 percent.
Independent clinics play a large role in providing abortions to women who are past their first trimester of pregnancy. During the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, women can have a medication abortion, which is the only type of abortion that many U.S. facilities provide, according to the ACN. After the first 10 weeks, surgical, or “in-clinic,” abortion becomes the only option.
Independent clinics make up 67 percent of clinics that provide surgical abortion and 66 percent of clinics that offer abortion after the first trimester.
The ACN argued that without independent abortion clinics, women seeking abortions after the first trimester “would likely have no options at all.”
“When clinics provide medication abortion only – rather than providing both medication and in-clinic care – the overall landscape of abortion access in a given state or region is more vulnerable,” the organization continued.
The mission of the ACN is to “ensure access” to abortion by supporting independent abortion providers and to “end harassment and shift abortion stigma.” The organization’s poster series, “Celebrate Abortion Care,” seeks to capture “the essence of excellent abortion care by shining a bright light on the spaces where patients are cared for… in independent clinics across the country.”
The ACN collects data each year on every abortion clinic in the United States that “makes abortion care services publicly available or otherwise discloses that they provide abortion care,” and publishes the data in its yearly report. It contacts each clinic for “operational status and information on the scope of services provided.”