Upcoming Supreme Court Decision Could Determine Whether Missouri’s Reality Spreads To Other States Across the Country
New Analysis Comes Days Before State Could End Abortion Access at Last Health Center Providing Abortion in Missouri
St. Louis — New data reveals the vast majority of Missouri residents seeking abortion are crossing state lines just to get care. Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (RHS), the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, has found that all but a handful of patients are accessing abortion outside of the state. Many patients have told RHS the same thing: The long list of medically unnecessary abortion restrictions make it too difficult to access the care they need. This comes just over one week after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case about whether similarly harmful and medically unnecessary restrictions in Louisiana are constitutional. If the Supreme Court rules the wrong way, what’s happening in Missouri — and in other states down to one abortion provider — could soon be the reality for states across the country. For decades, Missouri has imposed restriction after restriction on people’s access to abortion. As a direct result of those restrictions, there is only one health center left providing abortion in the state.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams are weaponizing Missouri’s health center licensing process to try and end access to abortion at the last health center providing abortion in Missouri. The same administration invaded patient privacy by logging menstrual cycles in a spreadsheet to track abortion patients. In addition, last year Gov. Parson signed into law one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the country — chock full of various abortion bans targeting all stages of pregnancy, all in one.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“No one should be forced out of their home state just to access health care. This is what it looks like when abortion is a right in name only — and when patients are punished for seeking health care. What’s happening in Missouri could soon be the reality for many more states and millions of other people. It is no coincidence that just over a week ago, we were rallying in front of the Supreme Court — the right to control your body, life, and future is on the line. What’s happening in Missouri, and in other states down to one abortion provider, is unacceptable and we won’t stand for this — not in any state in this country.”
Statement from Yamelsie Rodríguez, President and CEO, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region:
“When our patients weigh their options, it’s clear to them that abortion access is so difficult in Missouri that the majority of people choose to cross state lines instead of accessing care in their home state. Missourians are fleeing medically unnecessary restrictions that force them to make two trips to our St. Louis health center, sit in time-out for at least three days, and undergo state-mandated ‘counseling’ designed to shame them for their choices. At one point, the state even required patients seeking an abortion to needlessly take off their clothes and undergo an extra, medically unnecessary pelvic exam before we said, ‘no more.’ The right to abortion without access to care is meaningless. We continue to keep our doors open, and we will continue to care for all patients who choose to access reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion, in Missouri and across the region.”
This dramatic increase in the number of patients fleeing Missouri to obtain abortions comes as RHS fights to keep the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri open. As Planned Parenthood in Missouri waits for a decision in RHS’ abortion license case, politicians in the state have used every avenue to ensure that even having a licensed provider no longer ensures access for patients.
But this isn’t just happening in Missouri. Nationwide, more than 450 abortion restrictions have been passed since 2011. Just last year, 12 states, including Missouri, enacted 25 abortion bans. Abortion access is hanging on by a thread in many places in this country. What’s happening in Missouri, and in other states with limited access or only one abortion provider, could become the reality for states across the country.
Planned Parenthood’s Missouri affiliates continue to provide high-quality sexual and reproductive health care and education at 12 health centers in Missouri. To find a health center near you, go to plannedparenthood.org.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region provides options counseling, pregnancy testing, abortion care and other reproductive services for thousands of people in Missouri, Illinois and across the region each year. Our highly trained physicians and medical staff provide expert care in a supportive setting, no matter what. Patients can make an appointment online at www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center, or by phone at 314-531-7526.