This clinic sees nearly 7,100 patients a year, most of them young and poor. The clinicians administer 3,400 pregnancy tests, write 2,900 prescriptions for birth control and provide 13,200 screenings for sexually transmitted infections to the women and men walking into a boxy building between a restaurant-supply store and a used-car dealership. Inside the clinicians’ office, a pamphlet on the wall reads “Bomb Threat Checklist.”
Like nearly half of Planned Parenthood’s facilities nationwide, Akron doesn’t perform abortions. Three of the organization’s 27 centers in Ohio do; the nearest is in Bedford Heights, where protesters regularly picket. When pregnancy tests come back as unwanted positives, those patients are referred to Bedford Heights, 26 miles away.
That referral had now become enough of a metaphorical tie to the organization’s more controversial mission that one patient had come in and said, angrily, “I saw those videos,” and one employee’s husband found himself defending his wife’s profession to colleagues who had never before shown an interest. Earlier that morning, at the weekly staff meeting, Stephanie Kight, the Ohio state director, told the workers that a large antiabortion demonstration was announced for the coming weekend in front of the clinic.
“I don’t think we should wear our uniforms that day,” said Harriet Schaefer, the clinic director. “To be safe.”
“We’ll get back to you with a security briefing — parking and whatnot,” Kight told the staff, and she moved to the next part of the meeting, a presentation by education manager Constance Dunlap about the stigma of working for an organization that performs abortions.
Employees should think about the risks of disclosing their workplace, Dunlap said. They also should think about the emotional risks of not telling people. Dunlap said that her own parents did not know where she works. They are in their 80s and devout Baptists.
“My dad thinks I’m a teacher,” she said, and the meeting ended and it was time to open the clinic.
Here is what they do, day in, day out. Help women get basic health services because there aren't any other Medicaid providers that will take new patients in Akron, and the local non-profit clinic has a six-week waiting list.
And this is what Republicans are going to shut down the government over, so they can make that a three-month waiting list instead.
But there's no War on Women.