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Planned Parenthood in Moorhead sees increase in patients

FARGO-The Planned Parenthood clinic in Moorhead is seeing a surge in demand for services from women who fear that access to birth-control services could be curtailed as a result of the election.Patients ordinarily can get an appointment at the Pl...

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Moorhead. File photo.
The Planned Parenthood clinic at 803 Belsly Blvd. in Moorhead. File photo.

FARGO-The Planned Parenthood clinic in Moorhead is seeing a surge in demand for services from women who fear that access to birth-control services could be curtailed as a result of the election.

Patients ordinarily can get an appointment at the Planned Parenthood clinic within two or three days, but the wait time has grown to six or seven days as a result of the spike in appointments, said Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The increase began after Republican Donald Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential race, Stoesz said, with women seeking longer-acting forms of birth control, such as an intrauterine device.

"People are worried that Planned Parenthood won't be there," she said. "Women have been quite alarmed by the election."

Similar increases have occurred at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country since the election. Trump has said he will appoint a conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark 1973 decision affirming a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.


Another possibility is that Congress could move to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control and reproductive health services as well as abortions in some of its clinics.

Talk of defunding Planned Parenthood is not new. It's also not as simple as erasing a line item in the Medicaid budget-there is no such line item. Instead, as with other health providers, Planned Parenthood clinics bill for services, Stoesz said.

"It's unclear what's going to happen," she said Monday, Nov. 28, in a meeting with The Forum Editorial Board. "I don't think it would be a popular thing to do. It's indisputable that women use birth control."

She added: "I don't have any idea who would fill that void if we aren't here."

Stoesz is in town preparing for a Planned Parenthood event here Tuesday, Nov. 29, that will feature Wendy Davis, a former Texas legislator who has been a staunch supporter of preserving women's access to abortion.

More than half of the patients who seek care at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Moorhead-almost 2,800 yearly-are from North Dakota, Stoesz said.

Nationally, one in five women has used Planned Parenthood's services, typically when they are young, Stoesz said. That translates into a broad base of support for the organization, which has been a target for abortion foes.

If the widespread availability of birth control services, such as those provided by Planned Parenthood, were curtailed, the economy would suffer, Stoesz said.


Since birth control and abortion became readily available, women have found it easier to advance in their education and careers. "If that were to change, it would have an effect quite soon economically," she said, a result at odds with Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan, she said.

Because of a possible threat to its services, support for Planned Parenthood and offers to volunteer have soared, Stoesz said. Advocates in North Dakota give 3,500 volunteer hours each year, speaking in support of reproductive health rights in the state, which Planned Parenthood said equates to $83,000.

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