For more than 30 years, Planned Parenthood health center staff served the New Orleans community from an actual house: the living room served as the waiting area, the kitchen as the lab, the bedrooms as exam rooms.
Some might call it cozy or even charming, but it was far from ideal – which is why I’m so thrilled to announce that last week Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast officially opened our brand new, state-of-the-art health center in New Orleans.
This victory didn’t come easy. From the day Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast announced plans to build a new health center, its opponents were on the attack.
First, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals tried to stop the new health center from being built with unnecessary, politically motivated regulations against abortion that were eventually thrown out. Then former Governor Bobby Jindal and his cronies in the state Capitol launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's existing health center operations in Louisiana, and attempted to block Medicaid patients from seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers. He failed too.
Even when an arsonist poured gasoline on the foundation of the new building last summer, we weren’t swayed. We at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast knew it was more vital than ever that we push forward to expand care for the women, men, and young people of New Orleans.
So we did — thanks the thousands of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast supporters who have stood with us every step of the way. Because of their compassion and support, our doctors, nurses, and other staff in New Orleans will be able to provide birth control, STD testing, and other critical care to twice as many patients as before. And soon, our health center staff will also be there for women who have made the decision to end a pregnancy. It’s an enormous milestone in Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's efforts to fight for reproductive rights and health care access in the South.
Melaney A. Linton is the President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast