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KY, IN Planned Parenthood groups join forces

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Officials at Planned Parenthood of Indiana announced Monday that the group will merge with its sister organization in Kentucky to create a larger nonprofit with 28 clinics in the two states.

The union will take effect July 1. Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum will serve in the same role in the joint organization.

"This merger is incredibly exciting for our mission," Cockrum said. "We will serve our patients still better and we will strengthen our voice to better educate and advocate for sexuality education and reproductive health care and justice."

However, Indiana Right to Life officials complained that the merger could lead to more abortions. That's because the Planned Parenthood clinics in Kentucky do not do abortions but some in Indiana do.

"This merger will likely result in Planned Parenthood expanding its abortion business south of the Ohio River and driving the abortion rate higher in Kentucky," where abortion laws are less restrictive, said Right to Life President Mike Fichter.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence recently signed into law a bill that puts new restrictions on the use of abortion-inducing drugs. Planned Parenthood officials have said they are therefore likely to stop providing those services at a clinic in Lafayette.

The Planned Parenthood groups have been working on the merger for months and have been operating with some shared administrative functions since February.

"Over the past several months, we've had the opportunity to engage countless wonderful volunteers and supporters in both states to ensure a vital and energized new affiliate is ready to go come July 1," Cockrum said. "It is truly an exciting time with countless possibilities for great things to be accomplished by working together."

The new group will be the Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. Fourteen members of the Kentucky group's board of directors will serve on the joint board and all the existing clinics in both states will remain open.

"The continued well-being of our patients is what drove this merger, and it's our patients - current and future - who will realize the benefits," said Kim Greene, chair of the Planned Parenthood Kentucky board. "Combined, PPINK's strength and ability will allow us to meet the challenges of the swiftly changing health care landscape, and better address the sadly unmet need for family planning services throughout Kentucky."

At one time, the national Planned Parenthood family had more than 200 affiliates; there are now just 73, officials said.

Both affiliates have experience with mergers. Indiana groups merged multiple times to become a statewide affiliate in 2004. Louisville and Lexington joined together in 2008 to become Planned Parenthood of Kentucky.

The combined group will have 190 employees in its 28 health centers and administrative office. The group doesn't anticipate laying off any workers as a result of the merger. The groups eliminated a few positions earlier this year when the Indiana and Kentucky groups started sharing some administrative functions.

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