Missouri’s Last Abortion Clinic Has All But Stopped Performing the Procedure

Supermajority Education Fund

March 13, 2020

The last abortion clinic in Missouri has essentially stopped performing the procedure, according to NPR. A new Planned Parenthood analysis shows that the vast majority of patients in Missouri who need the procedure are traveling to a new Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights, Illinois — about 15 miles from St. Louis. Just three patients received abortions from the Missouri clinic in February, while 323 patients from Missouri obtained abortions in Fairview Heights. 

The Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, the sole abortion provider in the state, has been at the center of a licensing dispute with Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s administration for close to a year. The state commission’s decision could render Missouri the only state in the U.S. without a clinic that provides abortions.  

The elimination of this clinic would disproportionately impact low-income Missourians. This sole clinic is already hours away from people in other parts of the state. What’s more, Missouri requires people seeking abortions to receive state-directed counseling that would discourage the procedure — and after receiving this counseling, patients must wait 72 hours before receiving the abortion, per the Guttmacher Institute. Many low-income residents already do not have the option of paid leave at work or the expendable income that would pay for a hotel stay for days or the money for transportation to go to this clinic in their own state, let alone clinics in other states. 

“No person should be forced to travel outside their state to receive abortion care, regardless of their zip code or income,” Mallory Schwarz, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, told Supermajority News. “But the striking shift in the number of Missourians leaving the state to access abortion didn’t happen overnight—nor was it by accident. Anti-choice extremists have spent the past decade chipping away at access to abortion. Planned Parenthood still offers and provides evidence-based abortion care. But when faced with these medically unnecessary and burdensome restrictions, Missourians are choosing to cross state lines to receive the compassionate, dignified care they need.”

Missouri is also one of eight states in the nation that have trigger laws, meaning that there would be full abortion bans in the state should Roe v. Wade be overturned or limited. As the Supreme Court considers June Medical Services v. Russo, some believe this event could be imminent.

Schwarz added that pro-choice Missourians must take a stand against restrictive laws that hurt the most financially vulnerable in the state. She said concerned residents can call their elected officials and donate to the Missouri Abortion Fund

“Right now, every Missourian who supports legal and accessible abortion has an opportunity and responsibility to be on the frontlines of defense against attacks on reproductive freedom,” she said.