UPDATE: The Raleigh-based Planned Parenthood Health Systems plans to open a new clinic in Asheville this summer that will provide abortion services.
Melissa Reed, the company’s vice president of public affairs, told Carolina Public Press this morning:
“Planned Parenthood is very committed to insuring the continuity of care for women in the western part of the state, and we do plan on offering abortion care in Asheville, probably beginning in the mid summer. We’re opening a new health center that will have comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care.
“We have been in constant contact with Dr. (Lorraine) Cummings” — Femcare’s owner — “to ensure her support and make sure that that care continues in the Asheville area.”
ASHEVILLE — Western North Carolina’s only provider of abortion services, Femcare, put its property up for sale last week. And a patient of the Asheville women’s clinic tells Carolina Public Press that she was told by a clinic staffer that it will close soon.
According to a real estate listing from a week ago, Femcare’s building, near downtown Asheville, is now for sale for $1.275 million. Dr. Lorraine Cummings, who owns the business and serves as its sole physician, declined to comment on the matter when contacted on Monday.
Femcare provides a number of women’s health services outside of abortions. An Asheville woman who said she has been a gynecology patient of the clinic told Carolina Public Press on Friday that when she recently tried to schedule a return visit, she was told that the clinic was closing and taking no new appointments. Carolina Public Press agreed to withhold her name to protect her confidentiality.
If Femcare closes and its services aren’t replaced locally, the nearest abortion services in North Carolina that are presently available are in Charlotte.
The clinic drew extensive attention last summer, when it was temporarily suspended from operating by state health regulators in the aftermath of intense debate over North Carolina’s new abortion law. Femcare is the only abortion provider in the state that meets ambulatory care standards that may soon be required, under the new law, of all N.C. abortion clinics.
Last Thursday, Carolina Public Press reported on a sizable trove of internal Department of Health and Human Services documents about Femcare’s brief suspension. The records revealed that while there had been no patient complaints about Femcare’s operations, DHHS and the office of Gov. Pat McCrory staged a sizable publicity push around the suspension, which occurred two days after McCrory signed the new abortion bill into law.