What the possible end of abortions in Missouri means for neighboring states


NS. LOUIS – When the last abortion clinic in Missouri warned it would have to shut down the procedure as early as Friday, abortion providers in the surrounding states said they expected an increase in even more Missouri patients.

At the Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois, just 10 minutes from downtown St. Louis, deputy director Alison Dreith said her clinic was preparing for more patients on Tuesday when the news spread across Missouri.

“Today we are really crawling over the need for additional staff and how quickly we can hire and train,” said Dreith.

And at a Trust Women clinic in Wichita, Kan. That is already having doctors flown in, staff didn’t know what that would mean for their overloaded patient plan.

“God forbid we’re seeing people in Missouri are not getting services,” said Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women. “What does that mean on our limited doctor days?”

If the St. Louis Planned Parenthood Clinic can’t offer abortions, the group said, Missouri would be the only state in the country that doesn’t have an abortion clinic. Five other states – Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia – supposedly just an abortion clinic. And 90% of the US counties didn’t have an abortion clinic from 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and interest group for reproductive rights.

For some, this is reminiscent of the days leading up to the 1973 state-wide legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court Roe versus Wade Decision when patients who could afford to travel would go to more liberal states like California or New York, where abortions were legal.

But vendors in Kansas and Illinois say this Missouri influx isn’t new. above half of their customers come from the Show Me State. In the south, in neighboring Arkansas, where there is a waiting time of 72 hours from July, the vast majority of his patients still live in the state.

In the past 10 years, four abortion clinics in Missouri have closed due to tightened regulations, including a mandatory 72-hour wait after receiving an abortion consultation, requiring two trips to one facility; Requirements for doctors Hospitalization privileges within 15 minutes their clinics; and a rule that requires notification of two parents for minors and notarized consent from one parent. All of these borders left a clinic in downtown St. Louis to serve the entire state.

Now, Planned Parenthood, which runs this definitive abortion clinic, said Tuesday that it will be forced to cease all of its abortion services by Friday, when the State suspends its license. The shutdown has nothing to do with new anti-abortion laws that Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed last week to ban most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. The new laws will not come into force until August.

The number of patients in Missouri who sought an abortion at the clinic from April 2018 to April 2018 had already decreased by 50% compared to the same period of the previous year. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Jesse Lawder attributes two-thirds of the decline to the clinic’s refusal to provide pelvic exams for drug abortions – recently mandated by the state – to force all such abortions carried out outside the state.

For Dreith, she expects the numbers in Missouri at her clinic in Illinois on the other side of the Mississippi to continue to rise, but it’s not the only state sending patients in her direction.

“The patients literally came to us from the last remaining Kentucky clinics … so they wouldn’t come for more than 24 weeks,” Dreith said. “We don’t want these patients to travel to neighboring states [to] new York [or] California as they once had to. “

So it was before Roe versus Wade according to Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University College of Law, who is writing her third book on the history of the litigation over access to abortion. It assumes that the pattern of privileges will repeat itself.

“You would still expect women to be able to travel as far as they need with resources,” she said. “And one would expect that women without resources would not be able to travel. … The more the court withdraws from the protection of the abortion law, the clearer these differences become. “

For Dreith, the historical comparison with the previousroe Era sounds true, albeit with improved medical practices.

There are safer, easier, and more effective ways to perform abortions today than the “horror stories we saw beforeroe“Said Dreith. “But I think the trip will be one of the big setbacks and the scariest part will be the criminalization.”

States like Missouri could face pressure to arrest women who do their own abortions with pills at home or who leave the state, Ziegler said. But, she said, “Punishing women is not something that is considered very popular.”

[Update: The headline on this story was updated on May 29 to clarify the status of the clinic in St. Louis. Planned Parenthood says it may have to stop providing abortions at that location if its license is pulled.]

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