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Bend’s Planned Parenthood clinic prepares for increase in patients due to Idaho’s new abortion law

(Update: Adding video, comments from Planned Parenthood, Oregon Right to Life)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new law in Idaho will ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and allow family members to sue abortion providers -- and that could mean many more would-be patients crossing the state line and coming to Central Oregon.

It's modeled after a bill in Texas, which resulted in a 60% drop in abortions in the state, while neighboring states saw a dramatic increase.

Clinics in Oregon are expecting the same when Idaho's law takes effect in a month.

Joanna Dennis-Cook, manager at Planned Parenthood's Bend Health Center, said Monday the clinic is well aware of what may result. 

“We are pretty well equipped right now for somewhat of an increase, and just preparing for a larger increase than we expect,” Dennis-Cook said. 

She said the center is increasing staff, holding more training and expanding their telemedicine services.

The Bend location typically sees around 50 abortion patients per month. Based on what they’re seeing in Texas, the clinic is preparing for that number to jump by nearly 230%.

Bend has the only abortion clinic on the eastern side of the state, and Dennis-Cook said patients traveling long distances for an abortion is actually nothing new.

“No, not surprising at all,” Dennis-Cook said. “First of all, we already do see people from Idaho, for various reasons, and we have seen patients from Texas, that this is just the place where it makes the most sense for them to be seen.”

The Oregon Legislature recently passed a bill providing $15 million in abortion care funding to help those traveling from Idaho.

In response to the Idaho law and Oregon's new funding, Oregon Right to Life told NewsChannel 21:

“We applaud Idaho for taking the lead in the Northwest to protect the unborn. Currently, it is legal in Oregon to get an abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth. Most Oregonians do not know that our laws are this extreme. We will continue to promote legislation with widespread support. For example, legislation that limits abortions when a fetus can feel pain.

"It’s appalling that legislative leaders approved the use of Oregonian’s tax dollars to pay travel expenses for mothers to come here and end the lives of their unborn children. It seems they have outdone themselves with their pro-abortion policies.”

However, Planned Parenthood in Bend said it plans to continue gearing up, while keeping their doors open.

“We’re going to be here for patients in Oregon that need us. We’re going to be here for people that need to travel from states such as Idaho to come see us,” Dennis-Cook said. “Our plan is to keep our doors open, to continue helping as many patients as we can.”

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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