With Muskegon Clinic Closure, Access to Abortion In Michigan Just Got Harder

In the wake of the news that clinics in Michigan that provide abortions will now be subject to new, unnecessary building regulations, the closure of the Women’s Medical Services clinic in Muskegon, Michigan is an even more alarming tale of what the landscape of abortion access can look like in a state with a TRAP law in place.

Women’s Medical Services was the victim of a break-in during the early hours after the day after Christmas, and as a result of the police investigation was shut down due to concerns over potential fire code and building code violations. Many of the issues revolved around a leaking roof. Most of the rest involved trash and medical waste issues that may or may not have been there before the break-in occurred. However, the clinic owner has chosen not to fix the violations and leave the business shut instead.

That’s a huge problem for women in Western Michigan seeking access to abortion services. One local television station reports that in the western half of the state clinics are in Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Niles. Meanwhile the rest of the state has more choices with clinics in Flint, Saginaw, and in and around the city of Detroit.

A look at a map makes it even more obvious how much the closing of a clinic in Muskegon effects the rest of the state. Despite the fact that there are still more than two dozen abortion providers in the state even after the closure of Women’s Medical Services, the loss of a clinic outside the Detroit metro area is a huge blow for overall access in the state. The danger lies not just in states like Mississippi, South Dakota, and Alabama with just one clinic. To lose a sole provider in a 100-mile radius is just as devastating regardless as if the state has one clinic or thirty.

With the new omnibus abortion bill signed into law by Governor Synder now in effect, replacing Women’s Medical Services in Muskegon is now far more difficult. To reopen the clinic wouldn’t just require a new doctor, but also a revamping of the building codes to have it brought into compliance with H.B. 5711’s new rules (and, obviously, a new roof). With the expense required for both efforts, the women of Western Michigan will be unlikely to regain local services.

Obviously, that’s exactly what the anti-choice politicians hoped to see.

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  • jivinj

    I wonder why Robin doesn’t link to the MLive story which includes photos of the inside of the clinic? 


    Police investigating a broken rear door at a Muskegon abortion clinic Dec. 26 reported unsanitary conditions throughout the clinic including used hypodermic needles in unsecured containers, “blood on the floor and walls in multiple locations” as well as dripping from a sink trap in a patient room, and “uncovered buckets containing unknown fluids” in the operating room.


  • havefaithg

    Although local public health has no authority over the regulation of medical facilities, including abortion clinics, work is already underway to address the unmet need for abortion services in Muskegon County created by the loss of our only abortion provider.  Since a merger created a sole Catholic healthcare provider in the county in 2008, access to medically indicated abortions have been limited.  Recent legislation that prohibits the remote prescribing for medical abortions creates a new barrier that would have otherwise been an option to explore.

  • larino

    Here’s more info about the violations and some photos of the clinic. http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2013/01/muskegon_city_documents_detail.html

  • ljean8080

    for 1 thing,it is a law,that most if not all ORs must be cleaned between operations.That OR IS a breeding ground for infections.

  • kerney

    Even though the article mentions one of the clinics in Western Michigan is in Niles, realize that that clinic closed in December and there is no anticipation that it will ever re-open. I know… one of my partners owned that clinic and informed me he has closed it and will not be making any effort to reopen it.

  • havefaithg

    The “true story” is hard to know without also having photos before the break-in.  As the WZZM article correctly stated, however, our local Planned Parenthood clinic would not refer patients to the Muskegon clinic for abortions, so Women’s Health Services’ reputation was less than stellar.  

  • havefaithg

    Is there any way your colleague can call the National Abortion Federation and ask them to update their list?  I think that was the original source of the information.  National databases are only as good as the updates they receive. 

  • mad-mags

    I realize it’s not an independent provider, but there is a Planned Parenthood clinic that offers abortion services in Kalamazoo, near the WMU campus. Considering how difficult abortion access is in Western Michigan, this is probably useful info for some women.