FARGO, ND — Planned Parenthood said it would offer abortion services at its clinic in Moorhead, Minnesota, if North Dakota’s only abortion clinic does not quickly move from Fargo if the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down Roe c. Wade.
Planned Parenthood said it expected the Red River Women’s Clinic, a private clinic not affiliated with it, to make the short trip across the river by July 1, if needed. .
“However, if not, Planned Parenthood will begin offering abortions at our Moorhead facility so that women in the area do not have a disruption in services,” said Sarah Stoesz, President and Chief from the leadership of Planned Parenthood North Central States.
The Red River Women’s Clinic has long been the only abortion provider in the state. Owner Tammi Kromenaker said she would move to Moorhead if forced to, but told The Associated Press in recent interviews she was too busy to explore the details of such a move.
Kromenaker said Monday “there are too many unknowns to confirm a specific date” for the relocation.
“We plan to continue to provide our unique and excellent brand of abortion care in the region and will work tirelessly to ensure there is no disruption to services,” Kromenaker said. “We are here to stay.”
A leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court suggests a majority of justices support overturning the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Such a move would trigger a law in North Dakota making abortion illegal, giving Kromenaker 30 days to shut down.
The nearest clinics to Fargo-Moorhead are approximately 240 miles away, in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Sioux Falls, SD, although the Sioux Falls clinic would also close if Roe v. Wade was canceled.
Moving to Moorhead, which is part of a metropolitan area with Fargo that includes around 250,000 people, probably wouldn’t be difficult for Kromenaker’s clinic.
Brenda Huston, planner and zoning administrator for Moorhead, said there was plenty of commercial and mixed-use space available in areas already zoned for medical facilities and planning permission for an abortion clinic new or renovated would be a formality.
The Mayor of Moorhead, Shelly Carlson, has anything but approved of this decision.
“I can’t speak to the thoughts of Moorhead residents as a whole, but overall Moorhead is a welcoming community that embraces and respects diversity of thought,” Carlson said. “We know that we don’t and will not all think the same on every issue, but for the most part our citizens strive to exist as one community.”
A spokesperson for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life declined to comment when asked if the group would try to discourage or stop the movement.
Kromenaker, 50, who started working at an abortion clinic while in college, was named director of the Red River facility when it opened in 1998 and bought the clinic in 2016 The patients come mainly from North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.
In an interview with AP last week, Kromenaker said she was unsure how she would fund the resettlement, although she said she would accept donations.
In North Dakota, many donors seeking to support abortion access donate to the nonprofit North Dakota WIN Abortion Access Fund, with the money intended to help pay for abortions, transportation, and follow-up, including birth control tests and prescriptions.
Destini Spaeth, the volunteer manager of the WIN Fund, said donations had quadrupled since the draft notice was published. Spaeth said the WIN Fund hasn’t done any fundraising for a new clinic, but the group is open to that discussion.
West Fargo’s Ken Koehler, a regular protester outside the clinic in downtown Fargo, said if the clinic moves, he and his fellow protesters will follow.
“I think we’ll always be out,” Koehler said.