By SAM METZ
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — There is now one fewer place to access abortion in Utah after Planned Parenthood closed its only clinic outside the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.
The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah said on Thursday that the Logan clinic has long been staffed with one provider, who left to take another position in March. The northern Utah city of 52,000 is home to Utah State University and about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Idaho, where abortions have been banned except for in cases of rape or incest since last year.
Planned Parenthood said in a statement that it was training new staff and planned to reopen its clinic in August, in addition to a new facility in Ogden. In the meantime, it has attempted to help Logan patients schedule appointments at nearby health centers. In addition to abortion, the organization’s facilities provide sexual and reproductive health services including birth control and STI and pregnancy screenings.
“We apologize for the challenges accessing care and appreciate the patience of our valued community members,” Kathryn Boyd, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said in a statement. ”We look forward to welcoming you back.”
Three abortion clinics remain open in Utah’s Salt Lake City metro, including two operated by Planned Parenthood and a third, the independent Wasatch Women’s Clinic. There are broader concerns about specialty care in rural areas like northern Utah, which have in recent years experienced growing provider shortages.
Abortion clinics are reckoning with a new state law that will ban them by gradually phasing out their licenses. A judge put the ban on hold until Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging it can be resolved.
Lawmakers have said licenses for abortion clinics are no longer needed in post-Roe v. Wade Utah. Abortion is legal up to 18 weeks of pregnancy while challenges to a state trigger law that would ban most abortions with exceptions for rape, incest or maternal health progresses through the court system.
Anti-abortion lawmakers who expect to prevail in court have said that the type of procedures allowed under the western conservative state’s laws are best suited for hospitals.