Wyoming’s only Planned Parenthood clinic will close this summer because of financial reasons, the organization confirmed Tuesday.
“This is a challenging decision,” said Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains official Adrienne Mansanares.
Planned Parenthood’s lone health center in Wyoming is in Casper. It opened in 1975 and serves around 500 patients per year, Mansanares said. It will close July 21.
Mansanares said that most Wyoming patients receiving care from Planned Parenthood do so at the organization’s Fort Collins location in Colorado.
The Casper clinic’s closure is one of six across the Rocky Mountain region, which also includes Colorado, New Mexico and southern Nevada.
“We looked at what services we provided,” she said. “We also looked at the financial health of the health center.”
Wyoming will join North Dakota as the only two states without a Planned Parenthood health center.
“Our No. 1 priority and concern is to ensure that we have coordination of care for our patients,” Mansanares said. “We’ll be working really closely with our patients to make sure we get them connected to another provider.”
Spokeswoman Whitney Phillips said patients would be referred to three local providers: Cedars Health, Community Health Center of Central Wyoming and Casper-Natrona County Health department. All three take walk-ins and appointments and accept Medicaid, she said.
The fact that Casper had other places for women to receive comprehensive reproductive health care was a factor in the decision to close the Planned Parenthood clinic here, Mansanares said.
The Casper location does not provide abortions. It offers services including birth control, testing for pregnancy and other various diseases and abortion referrals.
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It is staffed by a part-time manager and a traveling nurse who visits periodically from northern Colorado.
The manager has been offered work at another Planned Parenthood health center or a “very generous” severance package, Mansanares said.
She emphasized that Planned Parenthood would continue to have a presence in the state through the Wyoming Abortion Fund, which connects women to abortion providers, and by continuing to offer sexual education resources.
The organization will also continue to work with NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming on advocacy issues related to women’s health.
“The political footprint and the education we provide will continue to remain,” Mansanares said.
As an abortion provider, Planned Parenthood has long attracted criticism and calls to shut off Medicaid reimbursement for other women’s health care offered at its clinics.
While Mansanares said the Casper clinic’s closure is unrelated to politics, she acknowledged that closing Planned Parenthood’s only health center in a very conservative state carried a symbolic weight.
“There is always some big hit or big attack out there to close down access to reproductive health care, so that is a constant reality we have to face while focusing internally,” she said.
Mansanares expects donors in the state will continue contributing to the Wyoming Abortion Fund and other Planned Parenthood activities.
“Their generosity was not in any way tied to us having a sign up on a building that was open three days a week,” she said. “It’s the access to care that our donors care the most about — not having a symbolic building in Casper that serves 480 folks a year.”