Why Planned Parenthood is Opening a Clinic Really, Really Close to Missouri

Headlines read “Planned Parenthood Quietly Builds Large-Scale Abortion Clinic in Fairview Heights” and “Planned Parenthood opens Illinois 'mega-clinic' secretly built to counter tough Missouri anti-abortion law.” 


Opening a new clinic in Illinois is neither a“secret” nor “quiet.” This clinic is a response to decades of targeted action that makes abortion nearly impossible to acquire for folks in the state of Missouri.


Missouri lost its second-to-last nonprofit abortion-providing clinic in 2015. There is only one Planned Parenthood in the state of Missouri that can provide abortion, located in St. Louis.


“Ending Roe v. Wade” would be a hefty task for anti-abortion advocates to undergo. Though reversing Roe and other landmark reproductive rights Supreme Court decisions would effectively end legal abortion, there are many ways in which legislators can break down abortion access. 


TRAP, or Targeted Restriction of Abortion Providers, are regulations passed generally at the state level. Through active or passive means, these regulations siphon abortion access. Examples of TRAP laws include mandating facilities that provide abortion care to have hallways with ridiculous dimensions down to the inch and forcing providers to acquire admitting privileges at a local hospital. 


Each of these policies doesn’t “end Roe v. Wade,” they just strip health care centers of validity or strip folks with uteruses from access. For example, there is a 72-hour waiting period in which patients seeking abortion in Missouri have to undergo an initial exam and from their chosen method of abortion. The Heartbeat Bill filed in Missouri was frozen in August of 2019. Similar bills passed in different states. 


So- let’s say you’re a single, low-income working mother in Springfield, Missouri. Springfield is a 3-hour drive from St. Louis. You’re working in a restaurant as a server. Though the money is nice, it’s unstable, and the industry does not provide space for taking time-off. You don’t have a car. Some folks have to request off a month in advance for service industry work. If you find out you are pregnant and wish to seek an abortion, there are an insane number of hoops to jump through: 


  1. Realizing that you’re pregnant as early as possible. Some of the most affordable and accessible types of abortion are only legal to take up to 11 weeks into the pregnancy. For further information, most folks find out they are pregnant in the 6th week of pregnancy. 

  2. You are on Medicaid because of your work. Medicaid will not cover abortion care unless you have survived rape or incest.

  3. You have to figure out how to pay for the care. Abortion care may cost upwards of $1000 alone. 

  4. You have to get transportation to St. Louis. Do you borrow a car? Does someone drive you? Do they support your decision?

  5. Finding 4-days’ worth of affordable childcare.

  6. Where are you going to stay in St. Louis? 


Abortion care is not accessible. Restricting who can and cannot access reproductive and sexual health care and education exponentially truncates who can and cannot have autonomy over their lives. Restriction impacts women and folks from every identity in entirely different ways, exponentially restricting reproductive and sexual freedom from low-income women. 


Making abortion illegal will never end abortion care. Making abortion illegal is a public health disaster. Accessible abortion care is essential. We must listen to women and gender-expansive folks who seek this type of care. We cannot refuse care. 


We can minimize the frequency of unplanned pregnancies by providing comprehensive, frequent,  accurate sex education to every student and person in the country. We can make condoms free. We can make hormonal contraception free. We can reform the adoption and foster care system. We can make parenthood cheaper. Ending abortion ethically begins with making it not need to exist. Until then, we cannot restrict abortion care in the name of women’s rights.


The new abortion-providing Fairview Heights health clinic is a step towards access. There are a thousand reasons to open more affordable reproductive and sexual health care facilities in states and regions where safe, legal abortion access is drained. 


It is not a secret that people need care.