The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi is about to become an official health provider for insurance companies, including Medicaid, according to the Jackson Free Press, meaning the clinic can soon provide covered contraception to its patients.
The three doctors at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO), all certified OB-GYNs, currently must send women outside of the clinic to get contraception or related testing after an abortion. Patients younger than 21 are referred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s adolescent health clinic, while older patients are referred to the public health department.
When an Rewire reporter contacted the health department, the waiting time for an appointment was longer than a month.
“Why should women have to jump through so many hoops just to keep themselves healthy?” Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis, a provider at JWHO, asked the Jackson Free Press. “It doesn’t seem fair.”
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Doctors at the clinic hope that cutting out the middleman will make women’s access to services easier in a state where reproductive health is under attack. A woman in Mississippi seeking an abortion must receive state-directed counseling designed to discourage abortion, observe a forced 24-hour waiting period between counseling and the abortion, and receive an ultrasound before the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has stated that his goal is to “end abortion” in the state.
The Pink House, as the clinic is often called, plans to provide a wide range of contraception, including the birth control pill, patch, ring, and IUDs.
Mississippi residents on Medicaid are eligible for family planning services, including all types of contraception that the clinic will soon offer. The clinic received a private grant to fund an employee to set up a system for billing insurers, according to the Jackson Free Press.
Carr-Ellis said that contraception counseling takes place during the intake process at the clinic, before a woman obtains an abortion. Doctors explain to patients the different types of contraception, including their risks, and rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for which type of contraception works best for which patients.
“I don’t believe in a single kind of care,” Carr-Ellis told the Jackson Free Press. “We know that comprehensive care is better.”