Today was a dark day for women and everyone in need of abortion care in Missouri, which already left people seeking such medical services severely underserved as there's just one abortion provider in the entire state. One Planned Parenthood clinic to offer reproductive health care services to approximately 1.1 million women of reproductive age in the entire state, as NPR reported. Now it has gotten much, much worse. On Tuesday, according to NBC News, the state of Missouri refused to renew the St. Louis clinic's license to provide abortions, which is set to make Missouri the first state without an abortion provider since Roe v. Wade was passed more than four decades ago. With a grim reality ahead, here's how to help protect abortion access for women in Missouri.
The news that Missouri could be without a single abortion provider within the next few weeks comes on the heels of some other terrible news. On Friday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill into law that bans abortions after eight weeks gestation with no exception made for rape or incest. This law would also seek to force minors seeking abortions to notify both parents and ask doctors providing emergency abortions to persuade health officials that the abortion was indeed a medical emergency, according to Vox.
This dangerous abortion law is expected to be challenged in court, but what do the women of Missouri do if the only abortion clinic in the state does close down? Here's how you can help protect this important care.
Stand Behind Planned Parenthood
Despite anti-choice opposition, Planned Parenthood promises to continue to stand behind the women of Missouri.
"Missouri’s governor just signed an extreme ban into law, but he is not waiting until the law goes into effect: his administration is ending access to safe, legal abortion care. Planned Parenthood will not stand for this," Dr. Leanna Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement on Tuesday, adding:
We are filing a lawsuit today against the state of Missouri. We want our patients to know that we will never abandon the women of Missouri. We will help you to get the care that you need — no matter what.
Also on Tuesday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement supporting Planned Parenthood in Missouri and condemning the decision to close the only clinic in the state, saying.
"ACOG strongly opposes the latest efforts to restrict women’s access to health care in Missouri; to force physicians to practice outside the bounds of evidence-based medicine; and to create unnecessary obstacles for women trying to access constitutionally protected, medically appropriate care," the statement read. "Abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure. Policymakers should not place undue burdens on the clinicians who provide abortion care or the patients who need it."
In a statement, Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN from Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, reminded women in the state that they're still "open for all services." She said, "... our top priority is to ensure access to abortion continues so that every patient can access high-quality care in Missouri."
To donate to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri in danger of being closed within the next 72 hours, just click here.
Planned Parenthood is suing the state of Missouri to keep their doors open and provide abortion services, and they need every ounce of support they can get.
Have The Conversation
Talk to people who might have voted for President Donald Trump. Talk to your family, your friends, anyone who will listen about how this historic invasion of reproductive liberty cannot stand. Try your best to speak from a place of education instead of judgment; the issue of abortion rights is more divisive than ever, and this Medium article is a good place to start this important conversation.
Those of us who support reproductive rights need to stay on message if we hope to convince people that abortion rights are actually rights for everyone. And that abortion bans aren't protecting anyone.
Share Your Story
If you've had an abortion, if you've loved someone who had an abortion, if you've been touched by abortion in any way... now is the time to share these important experiences, if you're comfortable. To stand tall against the longstanding cultural stigma against abortion and open up the lines of communication. Because it's much harder to dismiss someone's personal story than it is to dismiss an ideal.
For inspiration, check out this photo series I Had An Abortion shared by BuzzFeed. News
As more and more states continue to ban abortions and enforce tighter restrictions, humanizing abortion stories can only strengthen the cause.
Donate To Gateway
Gateway Women's Access Fund was established in 2015 to support women by providing funds for reproductive health care services and promoting awareness through public education. Now that Missouri looks as though it might be without a clinic, these funds are going to be more necessary than ever to help low-income women find access to abortions.
Contact Your Local Politician
If you live in Missouri and want your politicians to know that you want to protect reproductive rights and abortion access, find your representative and contact them here. The same goes if you live in another state and want to express your horror that Missouri could be without a single abortion provider within days. You have to make your voice heard, now more than ever before. Because reproductive rights are being stripped away faster than anyone might have thought possible... now is the time to speak up.