Don’t Let Feminist Health Centers Become Obsolete

**ORIGINALLY POSTED FOR PARADIGM SHIFT NYC**

I just finished reading a piece on RH Reality Check about a feminist women’s health center in Yakima, Washington, a small town known for it’s agriculture and sunshine.  Since opening in 1979, the clinic offered gynecological exams, first and second trimester abortions, a broad range of contraceptives, etc.  The clinic served as the only facility in the area that provided second-term abortions for nearly thirty years, until 2005 when Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho decided to  offer the procedure at it’s new, more-comprehensive clinic in Yakima.  Due to the economic recession, increasing competition for funding, and the expansion of services at the local Planned Parenthood clinic, the Cedar River Clinic in Yakima shut down.  Even though the clinic has closed, the organization has plans to remain active in the community.  They will continue hosting events and still be available to answer health questions over the phone.

Here is what the Feminist Abortion Network has to say about this situation:

‘The Yakima clinic closing is a wake-up call to all who support access to choice and access to health care. Feminist Abortion Network believes in the value of locally-based locally-responsive clinics, and in the strength of diversity in the health care ecosystem. Now is a critically important time to support your local independent feminist clinic. We urge you to go to the FAN website, find the feminist clinic nearest you, and send them a check for your support. You can count on FAN members to provide personal supportive care to women and families.’” – Anita Keunneun, President of the Blue Mountain Clinic in Missoula, Montana

This past summer, I interned at the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, one of the fourteen remaining feminist health centers in the United States.  The time that I spent there taught me so much, but most importantly, I saw how much hard work and dedication goes into the organization.  Feminist health centers are non-profit organizations dedicated to provide quality sexual and reproductive healthcare to women of all backgrounds.  The centers offer services ranging from contraceptions to pap smears, in vetro fertilization to second trimester abortions.

At feminist health centers, the experience is truly about quality.  The organizations are based on feminist principles, meaning that they see and treat all clients equally, regardless of sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, etc.    Appointments are tailored to the individual needs of patients and prices are determined based on a sliding-scale.  Most importantly, the centers help women work around barriers to access.

From my experience, feminist health centers have numerous programs, initiatives, and services which allow it to serve the needs of diverse populations in the community.  They recognize that all women have different needs and work to ensure their safety, satisfaction, and comfort.  For example, several of the clinics offer “health services sensitive to the needs of lesbian, bisexual and queer women.”  Many times, LBQ women face additional barriers when going in for gynecological services, including verbal harassment, “denial of care, and undue roughness in the physical exam.”

Feminist health centers are a wonderful resource for the community and their work is irreplaceable.  It is crucial that we continue offering our support to these organizations, whether by volunteering our time, donating money, or raising awareness about their work.

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