Abortion services resumed Thursday at a Bloomington clinic that organization leaders dubbed a "safe haven" for women from Minnesota and other states with increasing restrictions on pregnancy termination.
The Whole Woman's Health clinic at Interstate 35W and I-494 closed to in-person patients last summer but was purchased last month by a national nonprofit provider that operates clinics in Texas, Indiana and Virginia.
A new Texas law has so far withstood legal challenges and restricted abortions by empowering private citizens to sue anyone supporting or providing the elective termination of a pregnancy at six or more weeks gestation.
Other states might copy the bill, and Whole Woman's Health leaders said the Bloomington clinic and its proximity to the airport will be a valuable option for women from those states with unwanted pregnancies. Whole Woman's says it can provide abortions up through 18 weeks at its Minnesota clinic, with plans to extend that to 24 weeks.
"We will be working with abortion funds and allies all over the South and Midwest to help pregnant people migrate out of their state to get the abortion they need that they're being denied in the place they call home," said Sean Mehl, associate director of clinical services for Whole Woman's Health, in a statement.
Abortions have been declining in Minnesota from 19,028 in 1980 to 9,922 in 2019 for varied reasons. Abortion opponents have cited Minnesota's parental notification and 24-hour waiting period as influences, while abortion-rights supporters have credited expanded access to contraception and sexual education programs that teach young people to make more conscious choices for their future.
Women from other states make up about 10% of abortion patients in Minnesota.
A state report in July claimed a dramatic 8% one-year decline in abortions in Minnesota to 9,108 in 2020, but that might be an undercount. The report appeared to exclude abortions provided by Whole Woman's Health when it moved its clinic from Minneapolis to Bloomington.
A consolidation of abortion clinics has left Planned Parenthood in St. Paul as the dominant provider in Minnesota in recent years, but new options are emerging. A company called Just The Pill started offering medication abortions in late 2020 in Minnesota and reported 53 that year.
Whole Woman's Health started in Minnesota in 2012 with the takeover of the former Meadowbrook and Midwest Health clinics. Under the latest acquisition, the clinic is being operated as a nonprofit under the name Whole Woman's Health of Minnesota, rather than Whole Woman's Health of the Twin Cities.