Will closure of a Planned Parenthood center lead to new facility in a different location that performs abortions?

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

After more than three decades of operation, a Planned Parenthood center in south central Pennsylvania is shutting its doors.

But pro-life advocates fear the closure may be only temporary—and that the operators of the Lancaster facility, which has not performed abortions, may be shopping for a new location where abortions would be part of their daily operations.

In a written statement, Planned Parenthood Keystone President and CEO Melissa Reed said that the facility has moved to telemedicine services and is “thoughtfully planning for the next era of care.”

Could that era include abortions? Reed is not saying, but she did say, “It is clear that our current facility in Lancaster is no longer up to task…We are reviewing other locations to fulfill our future of health care services in Lancaster.” 

Area residents successfully fought back efforts to perform abortions in Lancaster years ago. But with the rise of chemical abortions in Pennsylvania, concerns are growing that Planned Parenthood may attempt to launch RU486 abortions in Amish country.

Concerns have also been expressed that Planned Parenthood may even try to perform surgical abortions in Lancaster. As one veteran pro-life advocate stated, “Since they could not do surgical abortions at this location due to zoning issues, I fear there may be looking for a site that has no such restrictions.”

While Pennsylvania’s abortion totals have been generally on a downward trend over the past few years, abortions did rise slightly in 2018, led by a surge in chemical abortions. Four abortion facilities in Pennsylvania recently applied for telemedicine status, meaning that chemical abortions could take place with the abortionist in a remote location, available only through videoconferencing.

A move to ban the telemedicine distribution of dangerous drugs such as the abortion pill RU-486 failed when Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood clinic escort, vetoed the bill.