June 1, 2019 Liz Borkowski, MPH 0Comment

Friday, May 31 was nearly the last day on which Missouri residents could obtain abortion care in their state. Missouri had stated that it would not be renewing the license of a Planned Parenthood that was the last remaining health center in the state offering abortions, and only last-minute judicial intervention prevented more than a million reproductive-age Missouri residents from losing access to abortion services. The clinic can remain operating while the court hears arguments in Planned Parenthood’s suit against the state.

As the prospect of abortion access disappearing from Missouri loomed, Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen told HuffPost’s Alanna Vagianos, “If anyone had any doubts before, what we’ve seen in recent weeks has made it very clear that we are in a state of emergency for women’s health in America.” Planned Parenthood summarizes the bleak situation:

  • 19 million women in the U.S. live in reproductive health deserts (geographic areas with a dearth of medical providers)
  • 90 percent of counties across the nation lack a provider of abortion care
  • 27 large cities are abortion deserts, where women must travel 100 miles or more to get abortion care
  • There is a nearly 1,200-mile-wide desert of abortion providers stretching from Idaho to North and South Dakota
  • Six states currently have only one provider (KY, MS, MO, ND, SD, WV)
  • Six states [Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky] enacted bills that ban abortion care before most women know they are pregnant, including a near total ban on abortion care enacted in Alabama
  • In 2019, 303 bills restricting abortion care have been filed in 47 states; 135 of these bills are bans on abortion in some, or all, circumstances
  • Since 2011, more than 430 [non-science-based] abortion restrictions have been signed into law

The news isn’t all bad: several states have adopted constitutional or statutory protections for abortion rights. But emergency conditions will continue until durable protections for reproductive rights are in place.

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