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Boise CPC seeks to draw clients from neighboring Planned Parenthood, director says

Two weeks after moving next door to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Boise, Idaho, Stanton Healthcare, an anti-abortion center for women with unexpected pregnancies, is working on a plan to boost its clientele while simultaneously minimizing Planned Parenthood’s.

Five-year-old Stanton Healthcare recently relocated to the 3000 block of North Harbor Lane, next door to Planned Parenthood’s Boise Health Center, which is one of the few places in the state where women can obtain surgical abortions (another Planned Parenthood clinic in Twin Falls, Idaho, and a few private providers across the state also offer surgical abortions).

Though Stanton Healthcare founder and Executive Director Brandi Swindell recently told local TV station KTVB that her center has no agenda or intention of competing directly with Planned Parenthood, Swindell told The American Independent that the move was strategic. She said the same thing on a video, which was uploaded to YouTube last month. Wanting to expand and provide more medical services, Stanton Healthcare was already looking to move, Swindell said. But the fact that one of the facility’s large windows looks directly into Planned Parenthood’s backyard is no accident.

“The reason we chose [this location] is that it’s significant, knowing that [we would be] right next to Planned Parenthood,” Swindell said. “[The location] will give girls immediate access. Women are already used to going to this area. Now we are there for them.”

Stanton’s goal, Swindell told TAI, is eventually to offer the same non-abortion, non-contraceptive services offered by Planned Parenthood, but for free — in other words, free pregnancy tests, free testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), free cancer screening, free well-woman exams, free counseling, etc.

Swindell refers to her clinic as a medical center, but the only medical services Stanton currently offers are first-trimester ultrasound screenings and pregnancy tests. The center also offers “pre-natal care,” which Swindell explained means vitamins, emotional support and parenting classes. All of Stanton’s services are free. Next door, Boise Health Center offers — in addition to pregnancy tests and ultrasounds – well-woman exams, birth control, abortions, emergency birth control, cancer screenings and STD testing.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest spokesperson Kristen Glundberg-Prossor told TAI that at the Boise Health Center, only condoms are free, but there are discounted rates on various services, based on income level.

In terms of the facility and licensed medical professionals, Swindell said her clinic is prepared to offer more medical services, but they don’t have enough money yet. The first step in this endeavor is to offer free STD testing by 2012, she said. Currently, Stanton Healthcare is funded entirely by donations, but Swindell said her center might consider applying for state or federal grants in the future.

Swindell said that in 2010, Stanton served a little more than 300 clients, but she believes — due to their new location — that number will grow to as many as 3,000 clients in the next two or three years. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest — which operates about 30 clinics in Alaska, Idaho and Washington, including the Boise clinic — saw more than 90,000 first-time patients in 2010, according to its 2010 Report to the Community (PDF).

Sensing the competition, Glundberg-Prossor told TAI that Planned Parenthood might have to consider offering free STD testing or solicit private donations for that very purpose as a way to “even the playing field.”

Misconceptions and assumptions

The clinics have only been neighbors for less than a month, but based on accounts from both sides, already there has been some tension. Swindell told TAI that Planned Parenthood called the police after they spotted a Stanton staff member photographing Planned Parenthood’s sign to obtain measurements for their own sign. Swindell said she thought the action was “silly,” but brushed it off.

“[We do not want] to compete with them or get into debate with them or fight with them,” she said.

Glunberg-Prossor told TAI that police were called before they realized it was a Stanton staffer taking the photos.

“We are very security minded,” she explained.

In general, Glunberg-Prossor said there have not been any problems between the two centers; she did note that one woman looking for Stanton Healthcare accidentally came into Boise Health Center, but she was quickly redirected.

Hannah Brass, legislative director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the Northwest affiliate’s political arm, told TAI that based on national reports on crisis pregnancy centers, she worries that women might be getting biased, inaccurate information about abortion at Stanton. She also worries that Stanton Healthcare might not be abiding by privacy laws — she said she is aware of CPCs that refuse to give patients their records or who call teens’ parents without their consent. Because all of Stanton’s services are free and they do not deal with medical insurance, they are not bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as Planned Parenthood is.

Swindell says because her center employs volunteer doctors and nurses, they do follow HIPAA rules and do not release patients’ information.

“I am happy to hear that Stanton says they voluntarily comply [with HIPAA regulations],” Brass said, “But they can voluntary not comply, so it is an issue.”

Brass repeatedly told TAI that Planned Parenthood provides “compassionate, confidential medical care,” while Swindell said Stanton Healthcare offers women “life-affirming, compassionate, professional care.”

Watch Stanton Healthcare’s YouTube video:

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