A few months ago we opened a new Carafem health center in Atlanta, Georgia. The question of where to open was simple: Where is the demand high and the supply low? The answer was equally simple: in areas where women’s rights are constantly under attack.
The southern states have dominated headlines all year for promoting restrictive abortion legislation intended to limit women’s access to legal abortion care. While the Texas TRAP laws hoped to further restrict access in the South, the Supreme Court ruling on June 27th was an important step in the right direction.
Nearly 6 months have passed since we launched our new family planning and abortion health center in Atlanta, GA. While it has been exciting to watch carafem grow, what is more exciting is to see the need we are meeting within women’s reproductive healthcare. We have seen hundreds of women and are pleased to be able to continue to offer modern, convenient and affordable care in the South. Over the past few months, the most popular question we’ve heard is, “Why Atlanta?”
First, there is limited access to abortion in the South. What may be surprising is there is a misconception about the correlation between supply and demand: “if abortion clinics are closing, it must be because there isn’t a demand for abortion.” In the case of the southern United States, it is not that cut and dry. While statistically speaking, there has been a reduction in the number of abortions each year, thanks to improved access to contraception; this does NOT mean abortion is no longer needed. What it does mean is women are traveling further distances and incurring sizeable expenses to access abortion care when they need it. Some travel hundreds of miles and because of state-specific, restrictive laws, they may have to stay in hotels, miss days of work, and pay for childcare while being forced to adhere to a “mandatory waiting period.” There has to be a better way. What if a health center opened in an area accessible to many of the surrounding states? What if it could use technology to simplify the logistics? What if it provided client-centered care and did so in a way that truly benefitted its clients from start to finish? We believe carafem can do all this from its new Atlanta location.
Second, since one in every three women in the US will have an abortion in her lifetime, we believe it is important to stand up and support women in a practical way. One of the best ways we can do that is by allowing our actions to speak for themselves. When there was a call for these kinds of services, we answered by bringing family planning and abortion care to Atlanta.
Third, we felt we could do better. Long lines, limited availability, and outdated practices are unfortunately common in health care. carafem is bucking this trend by focusing on the what our clients have asked for. Want a next-day, evening or even weekend appointment? No problem. We do that. Want to call us late at night or early in the morning, even on the weekend? We are here. Can’t take time away from work or home responsibilities but need care? Nearly all of our appointments take less than an hour. What about cost? Our pricing is lower than the national average, we take insurance, and we work with low-income women to provide funding options. All this because we respect our clients and feel they deserve professional, flexible and contemporary health care provided by medical professionals who truly care.
So, why Atlanta? Because women in the South us asked for it. We look forward to continuing to provide 5 star family planning and abortion care and are excited to answer the next call…wherever that may be.
Christopher Purdy is the president and CEO of DKT International and carafem. From 1996 to 2011, he served as country director of DKT programs in Turkey, Ethiopia, and Indonesia, where he managed the largest private social marketing family planning program in the world. He served as executive vice president of DKT from 2011-2013. His professional interests center on advancing the cause of social marketing for improved health, and socially responsible capitalism.