This weekend, women's health advocates celebrated the reopening of a Planned Parenthood facility in East Atlanta.
The new location is a busy spot on Moreland Avenue with a lot of transportation access.
Planned Parenthood partnered with Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health to identify an area where the facility would have maximum impact.
A previous downtown center has been closed for just over a year and a half. Its lease had run out.
Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said its three other Georgia clinics, including two in Gwinnett and Cobb counties, saw about 8,000 patients last year.
“Predominantly our patients are about 15-29 years old, women of color living at 150 percent or more under the federal poverty level and those are the women who qualify for Medicaid,” Fox said.
She said Medicaid help could end if federal defunding proposals were to pass. Fox said the East Atlanta center is opening as service providers around the country face a number of legislative challenges.
“So the Title X grants have been cut down to a year, some of the teen pregnancy grants have been cut out all together,” she said.
Clinics in Atlanta see patients from across the southeast and beyond, Fox said, noting Alabama residents will vote next year on a proposed constitutional amendment to declare Alabama a “pro-life state.”
The measure would be largely symbolic unless Roe v. Wade were to be overturned in the future.
“Georgia actually has one of the least amount of barriers in the country, so we really worry that those barriers are yet to come,” Fox said.
But for now, judging by drivers waving and honking in a steady stream of traffic streaming by Saturday, the facility is getting a warm reception.
“There are folks today in high places trying to take us back to another period,” said Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, who was on hand for the opening.
“We don’t want to go back. We want to go forward.” Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia.
A number of candidates for local office were also present for the event.
Starting in October, the East Atlanta clinic will offer services that include cancer screenings, tests and treatment for STIs and medication abortions, but no surgical procedures.
Across the street, protesters waved signs that read "I am the pro-life generation" from the corner of a Wendy’s parking lot.
Ryan Eyrich drove down from Charlotte, North Carolina, to participate in the protest.
“So, for me personally, I’m just opposed to abortion," Eyrich said. "I see abortion as taking life of someone who’s innocent — taking the innocent life of the pre-born."
Georgia has more than 70 crisis pregnancy centers that aim to dissuade clients from having abortions. Last month many of them began applying for $2 million of state grant funding.
Fox said Planned Parenthood providers frequently see women who've gotten misinformation about their pregnancies.
Georgia has one of the nation's highest maternal mortality rates and ranks in the top 10 states for most sexual infections.