Brainerd’s Planned Parenthood clinic, a fixture here since 1972, will close Aug. 1.
Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, said cuts in the nation’s 41-year-old Title X family planning funding program were the reason clinics in Brainerd and five other Minnesota locations were closing.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Stoesz said in a phone interview. “We’ve been mulling it over. That’s the last thing we want to do in Brainerd or anywhere in the state.”
The other clinics that will close are in Thief River Falls, Red Wing, Owatonna, Albert Lea and Fairmont.
In a news release, Planned Parenthood officials said the closings were prompted by a 5.5 percent cut to Title X funding. The cut is retroactive to September of last year and therefore represents an 11 percent cut to Planned Parenthood’s budget. The Title X program provides low-income women with such services as birth control, annual gynecological exams, STI testing and treatment and cervical and breast cancer screenings.
Two people are employed at the Brainerd clinic other staff members travel to Brainerd to provide services, Stoesz said. The two employees who work in Brainerd have been offered positions at other Planned Parenthood locations.
Stoesz said Title X has had broad bipartisan support, until recently, when it has become and “ideological football.” She said in a statement that the cuts were driven by ideological attacks on women’s health, not a desire to fix the economy.
Jan Anderson, director of Patient Care Services at Essentia Health Brainerd Clinic, said all of the services provided by Planned Parenthood would be available at Essentia Health Brainerd Specialty Clinic at 2024 S. Sixth St.
Anderson said the specialty clinic has some funded programs available for people who cannot afford the services but probably not all the funded programs that were available at Planned Parenthood. She said the planned addition of six physicians in primary care in late summer and early fall should help medical personnel deal with any increased demand for services currently being handled by Planned Parenthood.
Although abortions were not performed at Brainerd’s Planned Parenthood clinic it was sometimes a location that drew controversy.
An August 1994 fire gutted Planned Parenthood and destroyed three other businesses. The other businesses that were also gutted by the fire were Giovanni’s Pizza, Bresnan Communications and the office of Bruce A. Johnson, C.P.A. On July 4, 2002, five shots were fired into the office, breaking windows, damaging a door and leaving bullet holes in walls and ceilings.
Pro-life rallies routinely mark the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision by marching from the corner of Sixth and Oak streets, near the clinic, to the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse.
MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.