ST. LOUIS - Today, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLRSWMO) announced two new initiatives that address the post-Roe reality just 100 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. First, PPSLRSWMO is launching Planned Parenthood’s first-ever mobile abortion clinic in the country. It will serve the border regions of southern Illinois to meet patients closer to where they are. Secondly, PPSLRSWMO is expanding its footprint in Missouri and opening its first rural health center in Rolla.
Abortion bans are about power and control over peoples’ bodies and lives. Expanding access and meeting patients where they are gives people the power to make decisions about their health, their families, and their future. Since the end of Roe, PPSLRSWMO has seen thousands of patients overcome a politically designed obstacle course just to access abortion care and other essential health services that politicians in states like Missouri have worked hard to dismantle.
Statement from Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri
“One hundred days post-Roe we stand in defiance to say: we are not backing down. 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.”
Statement from Dr, Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri
“Over the past 100 days, I’ve cared for people from across the country who traveled to southern Illinois for abortion care. These patients are navigating a politically designed obstacle course to access abortion and other basic health care. 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 (sexually transmitted infection) rates, worsening Black maternal mortality rates, and abortion bans across the south and Midwest. 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.”
PPSLRSWMO’s Fairview Heights health center — 20 miles from the Illinois-Missouri border — has seen a 30 percent increase in abortion patients. The health center was built for a post-Roe reality, but the surge in patients came much faster than anticipated. Abortion 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 percent, and patients coming for abortion after 14 weeks gestation increased by over 115 percent.
Critical access states like Illinois are seeing surges in patients fleeing their home states. Taking abortion care on the road will help reduce travel distances - wait times, and other logistical barriers- and free up capacity at our brick-and-mortar health center in Fairview Heights. The mobile abortion clinic will serve patients along the southern border of Illinois, an area surrounded by states that have banned or severely restricted abortion access in the last 100 days. The clinic is equipped to provide the full suite of services available at Planned Parenthood’s brick-and-mortar health center. It is outfitted with two exam rooms, a lab, and a waiting room. During the first months of operation, the unit will provide medication abortion up to 11 weeks gestation with plans to offer procedural abortion. Before the Dobbs decision, medication abortion accounted for more than half of abortions provided in the U.S.
The Rolla Planned Parenthood will be PPSLRSWMO’s eighth health center in Missouri where patients can access the full spectrum of preventive care including birth control, STI testing and treatment, annual exams, vasectomies, and gender-affirming care. In the past 100 days, vasectomy patients have increased by more than 240 percent compared to the same time last year. Rolla will be PPLSRSWMO's fifth Title X health center (others are: Springfield, Joplin, and two St. Louis locations), which means patients can access services on a sliding-scale fee. With abortion banned in Missouri, access to affordable birth control, emergency contraception, and other preventive care are more important than ever.
PPSLRSWMO operations are guided by a strategic vision centered around patient access and patient experience. By bringing care closer to patients via a mobile abortion clinic and opening its first health center in rural Missouri, PPSLRSWMO is helping to break down barriers created by discriminatory and racist systems. 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.
Virtual Press Conference Recording is available HERE.