Repro Roundup: Abortion is inaccessible in Missouri, women must cross state lines to receive compassionate care

Welcome to my column, The Repro Roundup, in which I summarize abortion news happening around the country, why it matters, and what you can do about it — in 250 words or less.

What's the issue? According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, many Missouri women are traveling across state lines to Illinois to access abortion care. Missouri is one of the six states in the country with only one abortion clinic and has a slew of restrictive anti-abortion laws on the books that make traveling for abortion care appealing despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. And despite the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that some states can still access abortion care via a no-test telehealth protocol, Missouri is not a state that can legally participate due to its own restrictions, even though 46% of patients chose to have a medication-induced abortion last year making it an extremely popular option. But because Illinois does allow patients to meet virtually with an abortion provider and be prescribed abortion medication without having to enter a clinic, many Missouri patients are choosing to travel.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 97% of counties in Missouri did not have an abortion clinic and 78% of women in the state lived in those counties. Statewide abortion restrictions include:

  • A trigger ban that would automatically make abortion illegal if Roe is overturned
  • A requirement that a patient be given incorrect, biased, and misleading information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion that must be in-person
  • A 72-hour waiting period after the patient is “counseled,” which means a patient must make two separate trips to the clinic
  • Private insurance, insurance for public employees, and insurance through the Affordable care act do not cover the costs of abortion care unless the life of the pregnant person is at risk of death. People can purchase a rider to their private insurance at an additional cost that will cover the expense.
  • Telemedicine is illegal
  • Minors must obtain either parental consent or judicial bypass in order to obtain abortion care
  • Abortion clinics must obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital and are subject to meeting rigorous and unnecessary building standards

Why does this matter? It’s telling that patients would choose to travel extensively out of state during a global pandemic in order to receive abortion care rather than be subjected to the misinformation, pressure, multiple trips, and strict laws in their own state. This proves that abortion restrictions simply do not prevent abortion but make it harder to access safe abortion, especially for low-income, BIWOC, and marginalized groups. People who need and want an abortion will find ways to obtain it.

What can I do about it?

  • Learn more about the politicization of abortion medications with this Reproaction resource
  • Watch this webinar from Reproaction called Understanding Self-Managed Abortion
  • Volunteer as a clinic escort with NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Clinic Escort Program
  • Donate to the Missouri Abortion Fund
  • Purchase badass swag from the Missouri Abortion Fund
  • Sign this petition demanding the FDA loosen its restrictions on telehealth
  • Read this article about mailing the abortion pills from the National Women’s Health Network
  • Learn more about why admitting privileges do not help patients from ANSIRH
  • Subscribe to The Repro Queen of DC, my monthly newsletter on abortion access, activism, and writing on the frontlines of DC.
  • Subscribe to Repro 101, a seven-week educational email series about all things repro. Topics include the basics of funding abortion, clinic escorting, anti-choice violence, and more.

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Steph Black

Steph Black

Jewish, feminist, queer. Activist, writer in DC. Pro-abortion clinic escort and chronic volunteer. Get in touch, read my newsletter: linktr.ee/stephreflects