Despite strict anti-choice laws, the state of Oklahoma has opened its first abortion clinic since 1974. A Kansas-based foundation named Trust Women began serving patients in Oklahoma City last week at the new South Wind Women’s Center.
Six licensed physicians are now providing services at the center, including abortions, OB-GYN care, family planning, emergency contraception, and adoption.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by making the procedure a felony for performing doctors. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed the measure, however, though not because of her beliefs on reproductive rights. A staunch pro-lifer, Fallin did not approve the controversial bill because it was too “vague” and “would not withstand a constitutional legal challenge.”
Trust Women says Oklahoma City was the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without an abortion provider. The only other abortion providers available in the state are in Norman and Tulsa.
“If you look at this part of the country, there is a lack of access to reproductive health care, and frankly a lack of access to health care across the board,” said Julie Burkhart, the founder and CEO of Trust Women, to Associated Press.
Burkhart estimates the Oklahoma City clinic will provide about 1,500 abortions in its first year.
Lorryn McGarry, a spokeswoman for Holy Innocents Foundation of Oklahoma, an anti-abortion group, expressed her disappointment in the clinic’s opening, “We are grieved to hear of the abortion industry moving into south Oklahoma City,” she told the Associated Press. “We will do all we can to pray for a change of heart for all involved.”
The rate of abortions performed in Oklahoma has dropped by 34 percent dating back to 2002, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The new clinic will provide services to a city with over 600,000 residents.