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Tenn. clinic will offer repro health care, including birthing and abortion care

October 11, 2016 — Choices - Memphis Center for Reproductive Health plans to open a new, comprehensive reproductive health clinic that will house the city's first freestanding birthing facility, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/10).

The organization bought space, a vacant medical building, in April and will launch a campaign to raise the $3 million needed to update and renovate the facility. A zoning variance hearing is scheduled for later this month (Bailey, Commercial Appeal, 10/8).

Planned services

At the new location, Choices intends to offer abortion care, birthing center services, gynecological care, mental health care and sexual and reproductive health care (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/10). Regarding the clinic's intent to provide abortion care, Choices Executive Director Rebecca Terrell acknowledged that the organization could not afford to comply with the state's ambulatory surgical center requirement. However, citing the Supreme Court's ruling striking down a similar requirement in Texas, Terrell said she was "confident this law in Tennessee will be overturned" (Commercial Appeal, 10/8).

The center will provide women with more options for birthing, the AP/Bee reports. Susan Lacy, the center's director of obstetrics and ambulatory gynecology, said the birthing center will provide an experience similar to home birth in a better equipped facility (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/10). According to the Commercial Appeal, Lacy will oversee the midwives hired at the center, who will act as Choices' primary providers (Commercial Appeal, 10/8).

According to Terrell, the new facility will be the first not-for-profit in the country to provide such a comprehensive array of reproductive health services in a single location (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/10). Kate Bauer, executive director of the American Association of Birth Centers, confirmed Terrell's statement, noting that while there is a separate facility in New York that offers similarly comprehensive reproductive health care, that operation is privately owned (Commercial Appeal, 10/8).

In addition, the AP/Bee reports that the new center wants to meet a need for care in Midtown Memphis. According to the AP/Bee, gynecological care providers over the last few decades have moved into the suburbs, away from the city (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/10).