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Bay Area Loses Nations Oldest Feminist Abortion Clinic: Women’s Choice Clinic Closes Doors
by WCC
Tuesday Apr 7th, 2009 10:50 AM
Oakland, CA: Women’s Choice Clinic of Oakland, the venerated feminist health clinic
that has provided non-judgmental, culturally sensitive abortion and reproductive health care services to Bay Area women for 36 years is closing its doors (Press Conference, Wed. April 8: Oakland City Hall, 1:00). WCC is the oldest feminist health center providing abortions in the nation. However it is not anti-abortion protests that are forcing the clinic to close, nor is it a decline in demand for services. California’s chronic low and slow reimbursements for MediCal services, and the current freeze on reimbursements is the culprit.
“The final straw is the state of California’s deep cuts in funding and insufficient and terminally slow reimbursement process. To balance the state budget California has frozen payments for services already provided, and for us, that is a fatal decision,” says WCC Executive Director Linci Comy who has been with the clinic since 1977. “ Unlike other clinics, we never turned women away if they were on state aid or didn’t have insurance to cover their medical treatment. We saw people for less than actual costs because it was the right thing to do. But more and more women are unable to pay for services. Ten years ago it was half the people needed help, now 90% of our clients need help.”

Women’s Choice Clinic began in 1972 as an independent feminist women’s health clinic with a mission to provide quality affordable reproductive health care. In its 36 years WCC served over 64,000 clients and until its close was seeing approximately 2,000 clients a year.

The closing of Women’s Choice Clinic is being mourned by community members, health and women’s groups alike.

“Women’s Choice Clinic was a safe haven for underserved women, a place where women knew they would receive health care with dignity,” according to Destiny Lopez, Executive Director of ACCESS, which connects poor women throughout California to reproductive health information and services. “This is truly a sad day for Oakland. We are losing an independent community clinic that made comprehensive reproductive health services available to all women.”

“Women’s Choice Clinic showed us a whole new way to approach health care that valued patient education and empowerment. And they have left an important legacy-- there are literally hundreds of
health care professionals now in the field who did their clinical hours and certifications at Women’s
Choice Clinic. We are better off for WCC’s work, and it is a crying shame that they can’t continue.” Said Kim Barstow from Street Level Clinic in Fruitvale.

“This is a wake up call for feminists old and young and anyone who cares about women’s empowerment, abortion services and health care,” said Rachel Jackson, community activist. It doesn’t
really matter if we have a pro-choice president when real women in need can’t access abortion services. We can’t sit idly by. The years of antiabortion propaganda and the insufficient reimbursements from the state are strangling our community health centers and it has to stop.”

Despite its closure, clinic has a responsibility to maintain medical records and respond to medical record requests for a minimum of seven years and therefore continues to need funds to maintain this responsibility. “We are going to keep up our sex education outreach work as a street level outreach project. However we will not be able to provide health services,” says Comy.

###
Interested reporters and editors, please contact Laura Weide (510-387-1739, laura [at] sparkactionconsulting.com) or Linci Comy (510-390-1966) to arrange interviews.
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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There is a time for mourning, and there is a time for fighting.Heather TidrickSunday Apr 12th, 2009 1:46 PM
Many thanks WCCTiyeshaTuesday Apr 7th, 2009 11:18 AM

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