We talk a lot about abortion on this blog but we rarely talk about the clinics where the abortions are performed.  We all know about them to some extent but for years their work has been shrouded in secrecy.  As a consequence, there are lots of misperceptions out there.  Let me give you a quick profile. 

The vast majority of abortions in this country are performed by “independent” abortion providers.   By “independent,” I mean clinics that are NOT associated with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.   Many people are surprised to learn that, despite their visible public persona, PPFA clinics actually perform only about ten percent of the abortions in this country.  The other clinics are free standing facilities that are owned by a physician or a private individual.  Abortions are rarely performed in hospitals. 

It’s hard to get an exact count, but there are about 700 independent abortion clinics in the country.  There are some chains of clinics, such as the All Women’s Health Centers in Florida and New York or Family Planning Associates in California.  But, for the most part, each clinic has one owner. 

The average clinic is open three to four days a week.  Saturday is the busiest day, mainly because many women work during the week and Saturday is the most convenient day for them.  The average price of an abortion in the first trimester is $450.  That fee normally includes the abortion, counseling services and a follow up visit.  In rare cases, a clinic will perform an abortion for free.  As the pregnancy advances, the price goes up.  An abortion at 23 weeks can cost several thousand dollars. 

Every clinic has its own personality.   There are some clinics that are purely “medical” in nature in that the waiting rooms look like your average physician’s waiting room.  That is, a little austere.  Then, there are other clinics that might have different “cozy” kinds of furniture or pictures on the wall.  Some clinics that are run by former “hippies” reflect, well, you can imagine what they reflect. 

There is a group of clinics that subscribe to the “head and heart” mode of counseling, where the counseling is a little more intense.  Some clinics do very cursory counseling, just giving the woman her options and talking about the surgery.  Some of these clinics believe it is “insulting” to “counsel a woman to death” because it presumes they are not smart enough to make the decision on their own. 

Some clinics have protestors out front.  But, for the most part, it’s not like it used to be in the 1990’s when dozens and dozens of people would gather in front of the facility and block access to the clinic.  While there are always some exceptions, for the most part the pro-life movement has adjusted its tactics and many of them just stand outside a clinic and pray.   That, of course, is their constitutional right.

Believe it or not, some clinics also have adoption agencies.  Some clinics have a lot of security, some have none.  Some have female doctors but most of the clinics still have male doctors.  Many of the doctors are older as young physicians are concerned about getting into the field.  On the other hand, there are some cities that have too many abortion doctors.   

The clinics belong to national organizations and get together for annual conventions to discuss reproductive health issues.  Speaking of, all of these clinics do more than perform abortions.  For example, they insert IUDs, offer wellness programs, some do botox injections. 

I’ve worked with clinics for many years.  If you have a specific question about how they perform their job, fire away and I’ll respond!

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