Minnesota hospital to halt abortion servicesRegions Hospital in St. Paul will no longer provide elective abortion services with the closure next month of a clinic inside the medical center. The hospital on Friday announced the closure of GYN Special Services Clinic, which in 2010 provided 545 abortions, according to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health.
By: Christopher Snowbeck, Pioneer Press / MCT
Regions Hospital in St. Paul will no longer provide elective abortion services with the closure next month of a clinic inside the medical center.
The hospital on Friday announced the closure of GYN Special Services Clinic, which in 2010 provided 545 abortions, according to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health.
GYN Special Services Clinic has seen a decline in procedures; it provided 902 abortions in 2000. It was the sixth-largest of seven clinic providers of abortions in the state last year, according to Health Department figures.
The number of abortions performed across Minnesota fell again in 2010, dropping the state's procedure rate to what could be an all-time low. There were 11,505 abortions in the state last year. In 2000, the total was 14,450.
"Community-based providers are available for women seeking confidential abortion care services," said Chris Boese, vice president of patient care at Regions, in a news release. "We're confident that patients will find the care they need from providers in our community."
The closure comes as Planned Parenthood of Minnesota -- the state's largest abortion provider last year -- is scheduled to open a new facility next month on University Avenue in St. Paul. The decision by Regions should not create an access problem for local women, said Jen Aulwes, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood.
"We're really confident that women are going to be able to get the services they need," Aulwes said.
said the closure is consistent with a broader trend of moving services to non-hospital settings. Hospital spokesman Jeff Shelman said he would not comment on whether the hospital bowed to pressure from anti-abortion groups that have protested the service at Regions over the years.
Those groups, however, took credit for and expressed delight over the announcement.
"I'm elated," said Brian Gibson, executive director of St. Paul-based Pro-Life Action Ministries.
Gibson's group tried to present a petition against abortions at Regions during the 2009 annual meeting of HealthPartners, the Bloomington-based health insurer that operates the hospital.
"A lot of folks within the pro-life community would not access the good things that Regions does, because (the hospital is) also involved in abortion," said Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a group that opposes abortion rights.
Like other hospitals in the metro area, Regions might still provide some abortions in rare situations when high-risk patients require hospitalization as part of their care, said Shelman, the hospital spokesman.
About 10 people worked at GYN Special Services Clinic, he said, adding that "they have all found positions either within our organization or at other community providers."
Regions, which previously was known as St. Paul- Ramsey Medical Center, had provided abortion services since the 1970s, Shelman said.
The number of abortion providers in the United States has been declining steadily, according to a March report from researchers at the New York-based Guttmacher Institute. It peaked in 1982 at 2,900 facilities, according to the report, and fell to 1,800 by 2005. But the facility tally in the U.S. held steady from 2005 to 2008, the report found.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.