What impact has this new clinic had on the community?
It is a lot easier for people to get to. It is more desirable to be at. The client load has grown 18 percent since we opened the new health center a year ago; that’s larger than our state growth, and it’s working out wonderfully.
What do you think accounts for that 18 percent growth?
Nationally, we know through surveys that women are more concerned about being pregnant right now. Our client load is growing statewide, though not as high as in Utah Valley. Women are losing their health insurance. Women may not be in a good position to raise another child—even to birth another child—if they’ve lost their health insurance, and so women are paying closer attention to their contraception.
We also are seeing a change in our demographics, in that older women are coming to us in larger numbers, and I think it’s women who have been employed and have health insurance but have lost it or are more concerned about their jobs and can’t afford to get pregnant.
How has the role of Planned Parenthood evolved in the Utah community?
You know, we fight the same old battles in many respects, but our numbers have grown and our services have grown. People, I think, don’t hide the fact that they use contraception. Family planning is good public health, it strengthens our families and it provides healthier families. If families are planned, moms are healthier, physically and mentally, as well as babies. And so I think some of the stigma is gone, though every year the Legislature tries to put a lot of stigma on people in Utah—the fact that they’re sexual beings.
But we also believe in procreation, and if we’re going to procreate, we should probably do it in the healthiest manner possible. That’s what we’re all about: healthy moms and babies, and we care about the men, too. So, I think that more people realize that being happy about having Planned Parenthood in Utah is not a problem for them politically, religiously or socially.
What do you think is the most important reproductive-rights issue in Utah?
Preserving the rights. We had a very difficult legislative session this past year, and it took a nasty turn in that those people opposed to reproductive rights in general became punitive to women in general. I don’t deny that there are women who make bad choices and will continue to make bad choices, but if we pass laws based on those few bad choices, we’re not doing a good job as a society. And that is creeping into how Utah is approaching some of these conundrums that we have. That’s what scares me.