An abortion provider based in suburban Washington, D.C., has chosen Augusta as the location for its third health center.
The company, carafem, the brand of Chevy Chase, Md.-based FemHealth USA Inc., opened the office at 1115 Garredd Blvd. three weeks ago but is not yet providing surgical abortion procedures.
Melissa Grant, carafem’s vice president of health services, said the west Augusta facility is currently offering birth control, sexually transmitted disease testing and abortion pills.
She said she anticipates surgical abortions will be performed in the future considering that about 15 percent of abortion patients at carafem’s Atlanta office come from Augusta and other communities outside a 100-mile radius.
The 5,300-square-foot building, which was previously occupied by Augusta OB/GYN Specialists, is open only one to three days a week, based on current patient volume.
“We’re looking to see what the demands are,” she said. “It’s important that you learn about each community independently … Generally, it takes us a few months to get the word out.”
Since the closing of Augusta’s Planned Parenthood office in February 2016, the only provider of surgical abortions in metro Augusta has been the A Preferred Women’s Health Center at 2903 Professional Parkway, which is just a mile from the carafem offices outside the campus of Doctors Hospital. That clinic is affiliated with a Charlotte, N.C.-based practice and has been in operation since 2003.
The former Augusta Planned Parenthood office opened in 1978. Its building at 1289 Broad St. was purchased last year by a local real estate investor who is leasing it to a local partnership working to redevelop it as a nightclub.
Grant said she expects carafem’s Augusta center to serve women in the metro area in addition to the Carolinas, south Georgia and north Florida.
“I can tell you the reason we chose Augusta is we’re seeing a significant number of clients traveling to Atlanta from out of state,” she said. “There are so many states surrounding Georgia where women have long waiting periods and fewer providers … so we wanted to try to move a little closer.”
Susan Swanson, the executive director of the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center, a faith-based anti-abortion and abstinence education organization, said she believes it is only a matter of time before the office moves beyond contraception and abortion-pill dispensation.
“The only reason for an abortion clinic is abortion,” she said.
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.