updated 9/28/2005 9:13:47 AM ET 2005-09-28T13:13:47

A doctor has offered to perform free abortions on hurricane evacuees, saying it may be too dangerous for them to wait until they return home.

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Despite protests from abortion opponents, Little Rock Family Planning clinic director Dr. Jerry Edwards said he has already performed six free abortions. The clinic usually charges between $525 and $600 for a first-trimester abortion.

“If we didn’t provide it now, they would get it later — a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother’s health,” Edwards told KTHV-TV in Little Rock.

Edwards, who runs the only abortion clinic in central Arkansas, was unavailable for further comment Tuesday, a clinic employee told The Associated Press.

Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, said Edwards is risking further traumatizing women who have already lost their material belongings. “This just adds to the devastation these women already have in their lives,” she said.

But Marvin Schwartz, spokesman for Arkansas-Oklahoma Planned Parenthood, said Edwards is providing women with a needed service.

“The timing of the abortion procedure is, of course, extremely critical. The earlier in the pregnancy, the less critical it is,” he said.

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