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Sole abortion provider in Northern Mich. to close

July 18, 2016 — The only abortion provider in Northern Michigan is closing her 15-year-old practice the end of the month, Interlochen Public Radio reports.

Rising Star Wellness Center -- operated by Flora Biancalana, a family practice physician -- is not an abortion clinic, but Biancalana provides medication abortion through the practice. Currently, Planned Parenthood's clinic in Traverse City provides a list of abortion providers, including Rising Star Wellness, to patients seeking abortion care.

After the center closes, women in the area need to travel to Grand Rapids or Marquette to access abortion care. As a result, Biancalana and Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said low-income women who cannot make travel arrangements likely will have a harder time seeking care.

That lack of access to safe abortion care could "leav[e] the door open for women to take things into their own hands ... and then potentially have unsafe methods of trying to abort a pregnancy," Biancalana said. She added that it is "ridiculous" that she is the only abortion provider in the area.

Carpentier said Planned Parenthood is considering providing abortion care in the region, but as it stands, "We aren't going to have a ready answer for those women" who lose access. She added, "Certainly that has become glaringly obvious that abortion services are missing any place north of Saginaw or Bay City" (Springer, Interlochen Public Radio, 7/14).