Jackson, Wyoming’s only abortion clinic to close December 15

By Dave Andrusko

After 30 years of ending the lives of unborn babies, the Women’s Health and Family Care clinic, located in Jackson, Wyoming, is shutting down permanently on December 15.

According to Hanna Merzbach, reporting for KHOL radio, a sign hanging on the front door attributes the closing to rising costs, particularly rent.

“With the rising costs of overhead, including rent, labor, and supplies, our private practice is no longer sustainable,” it read. “We have had the privilege of serving the community for over 30 years and plan to continue doing so, just at different locations.”

According to State health statistics, 98 abortions were performed in 2021 and 91 in 2020.

December 15 is the day after Judge Melissa Owens considers Wyoming’s appeal to uphold Wyoming’s Life Is A Human Right Act which prohibits abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save a woman’s life. Back in March Judge Owens blocked the law from taking effect.

“Rent for the clinic has been going up every year,” Office Manager Tulsa Versey told Merzbach. “She didn’t have the numbers for rising wages or supplies on hand, but she said — just this spring — rent went up about $1,100, from $8,300 to $9,400.”

A brief aside from Merzbach placed the closing in a broader perspective:

Private clinics closing is a trend nationwide. According to a report from the American Medical Association, between 2012 and 2022, the share of physicians working in private practices dropped by 13 percent — largely due to financial reasons.

The immediate backdrop is what happened to Dr. Mary Girling, who stopped serving patients in June, and whose office is located in the same building. The high cost of housing in the region is “out of reach for even doctors.”

Speaking of rent, the clinic rents its office space from its neighbor, St. John’s Health.

Karen Connelly, chief communications officer at St. John’s, said the hospital is required by law to charge “fair market values” to its renters.

“Unfortunately in Jackson, it’s like chasing your tail sometimes,” Connelly said. “Those fair market values have risen, just like all of our rents, for the apartments we rent, our property taxes.”

“It’s just becoming harder and harder for independent providers to have a sustainable practice nationally and definitely in high cost of living places,” Connelly said.