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Regional Planned Parenthood branches receive $20 million donation

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made the donation to Planned Parenthood North Central States, which operates 28 health centers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

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Planned Parenthood offices in Moorhead.
File / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Planned Parenthood North Central States has received a $20 million donation from philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott — the largest single gift in the organization's history.

The donation will be divided among 28 health centers that Planned Parenthood North Central States operates in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. Twenty other Planned Parenthood affiliates and the national office are receiving a total of $275 million from Scott.

According to Krista Mathews, chief development officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States, the organization is still in the process of deciding how the money will be divided among the regional health centers. She said two areas of investment will include increasing telehealth access and striving to provide health equity in communities.

"It's hugely validating to who we are as an organization and our mission," Mathews said. "It's going to be an incredible catalyst for growth."

Planned Parenthood North Central States provides health care to more than 100,000 people each year, and has a network of 50 educators. The health centers offer gynecological services; cancer screening; sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment; birth control; gender-affirming hormone treatment; abortions and abortion referrals; vasectomies and other family planning services.

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"Providing access to abortion will always be core to who we are and what we do, but we also do so much more than that," Mathews said. "We are a prime provider of family planning services across our region."

Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said the donation comes during a critical time for abortion access and rights as the U.S. Supreme Court nears a decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health.

“MacKenzie Scott’s generosity is particularly important as we are facing the possibility of the Supreme Court wiping out safe and legal abortion in large parts of our country,” Stoesz said in a news release. “We at Planned Parenthood are preparing to transition our health care delivery model in response to whatever the court decides because we know people will be relying on us more than ever for abortions, as well as for the many other health care services we provide. Multiple states in the Midwest could lose access to abortion this summer, and we will be doing everything we can to make sure everyone gets the health care they need and deserve.”

Planned Parenthood branches in Rochester, the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, provide abortion services. However, the branches in Duluth, Fargo-Moorhead, Willmar, Alexandria and Bemidji do not provide abortion services, but offer referrals to area clinics that do.

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In Minnesota, abortion is protected by the state’s constitution and is legal up to the point of viability, which is generally thought to begin at about 24 weeks, when the fetus can survive outside the womb. Those who work with Minnesotans who seek abortions say barriers, both legal and practical, forced some to travel to Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin even prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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