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The following is the text of an article printed in THE DAILY STAR (Oneonta, NY) about the closing of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Hancock, NY.

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Tuesday, June 15, 1999

Planned Parenthood office to close

By Steve Justice

Delhi News Bureau

The Planned Parenthood office in Hancock will close its doors for good at the end of the month in order to reduce operating costs for the Delaware and Otsego counties branch of the organization.

Debra Marcus, the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Delaware and Otsego counties Inc., said the organization didn't want to close the Hancock office, but the not-for-profit agency needed to cut costs.

Hancock's part-time site has held monthly clinics since its opening in 1993. Marcus said the Hancock clinic was "opened to satisfy a gap of women's reproductive health services available in that community."

Members of the Delaware County Right to Life organization have picketed the Planned Parenthood clinic in Hancock since it opened.

"Of course we're very happy and pleased" Planned Parenthood is closing its doors in Hancock, Right to Life Vice President Edward Szymkowiak said.

He attributed the closing to a combination of "faithful prayer and consistent legal picketing."

Marcus said Right to Life efforts played no part in Planned Parenthood's decision to close the Hancock clinic.

"Since (1993), other medical providers have come into the area and our operating costs have continually increased in that market," she said. "Six years ago it was a very underserved area" and now it's not, Marcus said.

"We've accomplished what we set out to do," she said.

Szymkowiak's efforts in Hancock actually increased visibility and support of the Planned Parenthood organization, Marcus said.

"Every time he pickets we get more support," she said.

The Right to Life group opposes Planned Parenthood because it promotes abortion, provides clients with the "morning after" pill and promotes promiscuity by providing teen-age girls with contraception without parental approval, Szymkowiak said.

"They make a lot of money by selling contraceptives," he said.

Marcus said Planned Parenthood does not promote abortion; it simply advises women of all their legal options.

"Planned Parenthood promotes responsible decision-making," she said. The organization "encourages abstinence and provides educational and medical services to decrease risks."

Hancock Planned Parenthood patients can still see their regular health-care provider at the Planned Parenthood office in Walton, Marcus said. Hancock residents can call 637-3346 for information including appointments, supply pickups or billing.

Planned Parenthood will increase its appointment hours in Walton to help make the transition easier, Marcus said.

Planned Parenthood services include annual exams, Pap tests, pregnancy testing and options counseling, STD testing and treatment, mid-life services, confidential HIV testing and counseling, general primary care and all forms of federally approved birth control and emergency contraception.

Local health centers in Oneonta, Walton and Sidney will continue to provide service on a sliding fee scale, and Planned Parenthood will not turn away those in need due to an inability to pay, Marcus said.

Most insurance plans and Medicaid are welcomed. Planned Parenthood can be reached at 432-2250 in Oneonta, 563-4363 in Sidney and 865-6579 in Walton.

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