Without Planned Parenthood in Pueblo, those seeking abortions travel

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While several Colorado cities are expected to become destinations for people seeking abortions, Puebloans remain 50 miles from the next planned parenthood.

Unlike states that ban or are expected to ban abortion, Pueblo’s lack of abortion services has little to do with the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision.

In 2015, Pueblo’s Planned Parenthood location, 955 US 50 West, was forced to close after the building was sold to a new owner, Pueblo Galleria LLC., which refused to renew the lease, according to an article by Pueblo Chieftain from January 2015. After the sexual health organizations’ forced flight from the city, Pueblo was without abortion services.

An agent at Pueblo Galleria LLC. was contacted by the chief about this item but did not comment on why the lease was not renewed

According to Adrienne Mansanares, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, forced relocations of Planned Parenthood care centers can occur for a variety of reasons. There have been instances where locations have been relocated due to opposition from surrounding businesses and landlords alike.

More:As political leaders representing Pueblo respond to the reversal of Roe v. Wade through the Supreme Court responded

“Unfortunately, we see landlords who allow political or religious beliefs to get in the way of our relationship,” she said. “It’s not common, but it happens.”

Some Puebloans seeking abortions or other reproductive health services offered by Planned Parenthood travel about 50 miles to Colorado Springs, which treats about 500 Puebloans each year, Mansanares said. Some Puebloans travel as far away as Alamosa, Durango, or even Farmington, New Mexico, to receive care at Planned Parenthood’s locations.

“While we don’t have a health center on-site in Pueblo, we do have options,” Mansanares said. “I strongly encourage anyone in Pueblo who is seeking information about their pregnancy options to call us.”

Outside of abortion services, Planned Parenthood offers breast and cervical cancer screening, testing for sexually transmitted infections, birth control prescriptions, and other family planning services.

“We are still providing these services at our Colorado Springs health center, and when we see people coming up from Pueblo, it may be because their primary care physician has stopped providing services or justifying the wait times at Public Health Department clinics It’s easier to get to Colorado Springs,” Mansanares said.

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Less than a month after the Roe v. Wade through the Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood’s Colorado locations are already seeing an influx of patients from neighboring states.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy institute, 26 states are “certain or likely” to enact a 6-week, 8-week or near-total ban on abortion following the Supreme Court decision. The list of states that may introduce bans includes Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

“We’re absolutely seeing more patients traveling, mostly from Texas, and we’re already starting to see patients from other states that have banned abortion, like Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho, and I suppose we’ll continue to see them.” said Mansanares.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Colorado is one of six states that do not have an age limit for abortion.

The Pueblo County Health Department’s Family Planning Clinic is doing what it can to reduce unplanned pregnancies

Because of its Title X federal funding, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment’s Family Planning Clinic is unable to perform abortions, but the department is working to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, particularly among teens and young adults.

Historically, Pueblo County has had a high rate of teenage pregnancy. However, rates have declined significantly over the past decade, according to Jody Carrillo, interim program manager at the PDPHE Family Planning Clinic.

In 2009, there were 348 births among 15-19 year olds in Pueblo County. Six years later, the number of teenage pregnancies was reduced by almost 64% to 151 births. Carrillo said the decline in teenage pregnancies was largely due to the adoption of long-acting reversible birth control pills at the Pueblo County Family Planning Clinic and other health care providers.

More:House Democrats pass an abortion bill codifying Roe v. Wade without Republican support

Unlike birth control pills, long-acting reversible contraceptives such as IUDs and hormonal contraceptive implants can be effective for anywhere from three to ten years, depending on the type. Devices can be “expensive, if not prohibitive,” for low-income earners without the contraceptive clinic’s sliding scale of fees, Carrillo said.

“Family planning and contraceptive services are subject to a sliding scale of fees, including little to no fees for adolescents and confidential patients,” according to the PDPHE Family Planning Clinic website. “The sliding scale of fees depends on your income and how many people you support. Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections come with low fees.”

Other birth control options offered by the clinic include oral contraceptives, Depo-Provera injections, condoms, diaphragms, vaginal rings, and patches. The clinic offers educational presentations, STI testing, pregnancy testing, and cancer screening, among others.

“The services provided by the family planning clinic will be critical in preventing unwanted pregnancy,” Carrillo said. “It is vital for a woman of childbearing age to be in control of her health, to be educated and to have access to quality services and contraception.”

Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at [email protected]

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