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Cyr: New abortion provider could be in the works for Cape Cod and the Islands

Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts

The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has brought new attention to the absence of abortion providers on Cape Cod, the Islands, and the South Coast.

Now some state legislators are urging healthcare providers to bring the services here.

Sen. Julian Cyr said he’s been talking with several members of the local delegation about ways that Cape-area healthcare providers could work together to offer abortion.

“We actually think that the way that we're going to get this done is in partnership, through several health care providers here that are currently on Cape Cod and the Islands, and maybe a new one or two,” he said.

The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts does not have any plans, right now, to open a brick-and-mortar clinic in the region, according to Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of the organization and a physician.

“I think folks would love to have Planned Parenthood put up a brick-and-mortar health center in every town across Massachusetts,” she said. “It's just a not — it's an unsustainable model. So I think we have continued to look for partnerships and collaborations.”

She said Planned Parenthood is interested in talking with Cape and Islands healthcare providers about how those organizations could begin to offer abortion services. The same was true before the Dobbs decision and before the COVID-19 pandemic, and those conversations could be renewed now, she said.

“Early surgical abortion care and medication abortion is well within their wheelhouse for taking care of folks who are pregnant and don't want to be, who have pregnancy complications and don't want to be pregnant anymore,” she said.

Planned Parenthood does offer local access to medication abortion, via telehealth, up to about 10 weeks of pregnancy.

But that alone does not solve the problem of access in remote places, Childs-Roshak said.

Transportation to a clinic in Attleboro or Boston takes hours from the Outer Cape, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

Cyr said he hopes one or more local providers will open a clinic.

“There may be several paths for this to occur,” he said.

He said he hopes to have more information in a few months.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.