Signs from a 2019 abortion rights rally in Portland.
Signs from a 2019 abortion rights rally in Portland. Blair Stenvick

Portland's first new independent abortion clinic in at least 20 years is about to open its doors.

The Lilith Clinic, located in downtown Portland, will begin seeing patients this Friday, March 19. The clinic will be unique among Portland abortion clinics in that it will provide abortions up to the 22nd week of pregnancy. Most providers in the area only provide abortion up to around 17-20 weeks, as the process becomes more medically complicated after that benchmark.

Lilith Clinic's opening comes just two months after Lovejoy Surgicenter—a historic local abortion clinic that also provided later-term abortions—closed in January after 50 years.

According to a recent report from the Abortion Care Network, about a third of all independent abortion providers in the United States closed or stopped providing abortions between 2015 and 2019. That trend made Lovejoy's closure even more worrying for abortion advocates in Oregon—and makes the Lilith Clinic's existence crucially important for abortion access in Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest.

From the Mercury's previous reporting about Lovejoy's closure:

No other standalone abortion clinic in the Portland area offers abortions through the end of the second trimester. While larger medical centers, such as Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), do perform them, those procedures can cost “tens of thousands of dollars” depending on medical insurance, the Cascades volunteer said, and registering with a large healthcare network can be more difficult to navigate than Lovejoy’s streamlined registration and financial assistance system.

“Lovejoy has been a partner in going above and beyond in ensuring that cost, especially, has never been a barrier for people,” said Christel Allen, executive director of reproductive rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon. “Lovejoy has always been an active partner in eliminating those barriers, or at least lowering them.”

And Lovejoy didn’t just fill in that abortion access gap in Portland—it also served people from across Oregon, as well as those from Washington, Idaho, Northern California, and Alaska who had difficulty accessing an affordable abortion where they lived.

“People at Lovejoy made that non-judgemental space,” Allen remembered, “and were able to be there in those situations where it gets complicated, and it gets difficult.”

The Lilith Clinic aims to fill the gaps left by Lovejoy's closure. Owned by Washington-based doctor Charlie Browne, the Lilith's sister clinic in Seattle provides abortion through 26 weeks.

In a press release announcing the opening, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown welcomed Lilith Clinic's presence in Portland.

"I applaud The Lilith Clinic," Brown said, "for opening its doors to welcome patients from throughout the state who are seeking abortion care.”