After 40 years, Savannah's only surgical abortion provider closes in wake of Roe v. Wade overturn

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Across the country, abortion access continues to shrink as clinics close their doors after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.

In Savannah, a post-Roe world is already becoming clearer.

Savannah Medical Clinic, an abortion provider that opened 40 years ago, announced this week that it has permanently closed its doors. The clinic's website included the following statement:

"After 40 years of serving Coastal Georgia in providing abortion services, Savannah Medical Clinic is sad to announce we have closed our office and are no longer taking appointments.

"We thank you, the women of Savannah, and the surrounding communities, for trusting us with your healthcare over these many years."

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

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Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

The longstanding clinic was the only abortion provider in Savannah that offered surgical abortions. With its closing, the only abortion provider that stands is Planned Parenthood Southeast, which offers the abortion pill for up to 11 weeks.

"Anytime that a healthcare provider closes, that has a huge impact on the community that it serves. I think it's important to note that Planned Parenthood is still here to serve folks in coastal Georgia. Our clinic in Savannah is open to taking appointments if you need care," said Vivienne Kerley-de la Cruz, the Georgia campaigns director at Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Both surgical and medication abortions are safe and effective, however, surgical abortions require fewer appointments, the procedure takes 5-10 minutes, it poses less risk of an incomplete procedure and patients usually do not have heavy bleeding at home.

"While we don't provide surgical abortion services, we can help refer folks to care. Folks can call our patient access center or use the patient navigator system to get the care that they need. And we've been working over the last few months to build a network with other providers and other Planned Parenthood affiliates to make sure that patients can be supported in making their health care decisions and pointed in the right directions with referrals and information to get the care that they need."

Those in Savannah seeking an abortion procedure instead of the pill would have to travel almost two hours to clinics in either Charleston, S.C., or Augusta, Ga., placing a burden on people who neither have the time or the resources to travel for an abortion.

The clinic has declined to comment on the closing to The Savannah Morning News, but it's not the first clinic in the South to shutter its doors in response to the SCOTUS ruling.

Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, abortion bans went into effect in 13 states. Abortion clinics in states like Texas and Louisiana immediately closed as a result of the decision, canceling appointments and turning away tearful patients.

While Georgia's "heartbeat bill" is currently on pause and caught up in federal court, the threat of the bill, which bans abortions after six weeks, could cause other clinics to close in anticipation of the ban and threat of criminal prosecution.

Laura Nwogu is the quality of life reporter for Savannah Morning News. Contact her at Twitter: @lauranwogu_

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: After 40 years, Savannah's only surgical abortion provider closes in wake of Roe v. Wade overturn