‘To our community and beyond’

Colorado’s first abortion clinic celebrates 50 years of reproductive health care


Boulder Valley Clinic served nine patients on its opening day, Nov. 1, 1973, just nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion was constitutionally protected.

It was the first abortion clinic in the state, and Linda Weber, freshly transplanted to Colorado and armed with two years’ worth of experience at a facility in New York, took the helm of the newly launched clinic’s volunteer counseling program. 

“We had patients coming from Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas, traveling great distances,” Weber says. “We had to find places for them to stay. There was a priest at St. John’s [Episcopal Church] here in Boulder … and he would find housing for someone who didn’t have any money who was in town for an abortion.”

Over the next half century the clinic evolved, changing names and locations and incorporating more sexual health services. Today the facility is known as Boulder Valley Health Center (BVHC) and positions itself as a “community-focused clinic” offering gender-affirming care for adults, family planning, and a confidential clinic for teens to access birth control. But the need for BVHC’s abortion services has only grown since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the summer of 2022 with the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling. 

“A lot of clinics across the country had to shutter services right then and there,” says Savita Ginde, CEO and chief medical officer at BVHC. “From that day, we’ve seen a 200% to 300% increase in phone calls per week. More than 50% of the patients we see come to us from out of state. Right now, Colorado is the closest place for reproductive health and abortion care for about 1.2 million people who live in surrounding states that have restrictions on such care.” 

While the Dobbs decision dealt a devastating blow to bodily autonomy, Colorado has protected access to abortion through the Reproductive Health Equity Act, giving Ginde and her team at BVHC a chance to celebrate their golden jubilee and “prep for the next 50 years.”

“To get to this milestone we’ve had to rise out of the ashes of harsh legislation, of COVID,” she says. “I think it’s really brought our mission into sharp focus.”

The clarity of that mission was what drew people like Weber to the clinic 50 years ago. She still meets with former Boulder Valley Clinic staffers like Sarah Jussen, an original volunteer counselor who went on to manage the clinic for more than a decade.

“It wasn’t just terminating a pregnancy,” Jussen says. “We provided emotional support for the women who came.”

Weber says this was by design, as one of the founding doctors, Irwin “Ran” Sclar, was a psychiatrist.

“He and the other [doctors] wanted patients to get psychological support as well as medical treatment,” Weber says. “He knew so many women had issues with relationships, religion, sexuality, and I was absolutely on the same page.”

As the years pass, Weber feels called to share the story of Boulder Valley Clinic, as many of the founding doctors have died: Sclar, Roger Wade, Robert McFarland, Sherburne Macfarlan, and, just last month, Ron Kuseski.

While the name of the clinic has changed, Ginde says the mission is as clear as ever.

“We know that we must continue our deep commitment to providing the highest quality reproductive and sexual health care to our community and beyond.”

BVHC’s fundraising gala, Condom Couture, is Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Boulder JCC, 6007 Oreg Ave. The event features fashion, burlesque and drag from Colorado-based designers and performers. Guests are encouraged to wear ’70s-style attire. Tickets start at $125 and include food, beer, wine and a special cocktail: bit.ly/CondomCouture