After a new state law in 2011 seriously limited the number of places in Arizona where abortions could be performed, Planned Parenthood once again is providing abortion services in Flagstaff.
Planned Parenthood stopped providing abortion services at several of its Arizona locations (including Flagstaff) after those new regulations were made official.
Among other things, that law prevented nurse practitioners from dispensing the medications that induce abortions, instead requiring a doctor to do it.
That made it nearly impossible for abortion providers to operate in rural areas. Indeed, state health department records show there are currently nine licensed abortion facilities -- all of them in metro Phoenix and Tucson.
According to a 2011 Arizona Republic article on the reduction of abortion providers, a Planned Parenthood official said women were coming to Flagstaff from as far away as the Four Corners area to get an abortion.
The law also requires the physician to meet with the patient 24 hours before dispensing those pills, so women from all stretches of Northern Arizona would not only have to make a trip to Phoenix to get an abortion, but they'd also have to stay an additional 24 hours.
"Northern Arizona women who have come to our health center over the last two years have expressed heartache when they learned that abortion was not available in their community," Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner Beth Otterstein says in a statement. "We are fortunate to be able to once again serve the needs of women in this community. These are the stories that kept us determined."
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According to Planned Parenthood officials, the Flagstaff location will only be offering the medicated abortions. The window of when medicated abortions can be performed is shorter than the window for surgical abortions.
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