Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLRSWMO) announced the launch of their new mobile abortion clinic on Monday, Oct. 3.
The mobile clinic announcement was one of two initiatives the group announced on Monday.
Planned Parenthood said the mobile clinic would both bring services closer to patients in Missouri and address the huge increase in demand.
Missouri was one of many states that had trigger laws in place when Roe v. Wade was overturned. PPSLRSWMO did open up two clinics in Illinois, where abortion remains legal, in anticipation of the decision. However, demand went up more quickly than expected. The Fairview Heights clinic, which is about 20 miles from the state line, has seen a 30% increase in new abortion patients. Clinics across Illinois have seen similar increases as the state becomes an island for access.
PPSLRSWMO said that at the Fairview Heights clinic alone, appointment wait times went from four days to two and a half weeks, patients from outside the bi-state area (Missouri and Illinois) increased by more than 340%, and patients coming for abortion after 14 weeks gestation increased by over 115%.
The organization has also opened up a new health center in Rolla, Mo., 100 miles to the southwest of St. Louis. While Missouri bans abortion, the clinic will still offer Planned Parenthood’s other services including birth control, STI testing and treatment, annual exams, vasectomies, and gender-affirming care. The Rolla location is their first facility in a rural area.
“One hundred days post-Roe we stand in defiance to say: we are not backing down,” said Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of PPSLRSWMO. “When Roe fell 100 days ago, we doubled down on our commitment to patients. Today we march forward, expanding access to family planning in Missouri while we take abortion care on the road in Illinois. Abortion bans, ‘defunding’ Planned Parenthood, and attacks on reproductive freedoms writ large are deeply unpopular. We’re standing in the gap created by politicians and ensuring all people can access the health care they deserve, no matter where they live.”
The Rolla health center will start seeing patients in the first week of November and the mobile abortion clinic will be operational by the end of 2022.
“Increasing our capacity to see more patients in Missouri and Illinois is helping combat multiple public health crises — from health care provider shortages, rising STI rates, worsening Black maternal mortality rates, and abortion bans across the South and Midwest,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer. “Planned Parenthood is proud to bring creative solutions to an unjust health care system and doing our best to depoliticize decisions that should be left between providers and their patients.”