Reproductive rights have increasingly come under threat in recent years, and access to family planning services in several states has become dangerously limited. You may be surprised to learn that approximately one-tenth of U.S. states have only one abortion provider left, according to the Huffington Post, leaving many people in low-income communities unable to obtain safe, legal care. Despite federal protection, crippling restrictions and harsh regulations targeting providers (and, let's be honest, patients) make it unduly difficult to maintain clinics in at-risk states. Now, more than ever, we need to educate and support these lone havens of choice.
Under the new Republican administration, reproductive health protections will face steep challenges. With the inauguration of a president who has vowed to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who would work to overturn Roe v. Wade, advocacy groups are preparing to fight the inevitable roll back of reproductive rights. A win in Texas, where a federal court blocked Texas abortion restrictions concerning the disposal of fetal tissue, is cause for hope. However, this month alone, two new states join the list of those with only one licensed abortion clinic to service its thousands of female residents.
Statistics have shown that limiting women's access to abortion does not actually decrease the number of abortions that occur; indeed, research suggests that it's actually education concerning the use of contraception and access to abortion that lower the risk of abortion. So join the fight for women's reproductive rights and learn where abortion rights are most in danger. As the commonly repeated refrain goes, we won't go back.
These are the states with a sole abortion provider remaining:
As of Tuesday, Jan. 17, the second-to-last abortion provider in the state of West Virginia closed its doors. According to The Charleston Gazette-Mail, abortion has come under considerable fire in recent years, "legislators in 2014 outlawed abortion after a fetus gestates for 20 weeks. Last year, they outlawed the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions." After the Kanawha Surgicenter in Charleston was shuttered this month, the only provider standing in the state of nearly two million people is the Women’s Health Center, and the simple truth that there are simply not enough clinics to service the people in the area who need them is clear.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization is Mississippi's last remaining licensed abortion facility. Recently profiled in the documentary Jackson, the clinic continues to fight to keep its doors open in the face of harsh TRAP laws restricting abortion access. Sex-education in Mississippi public schools is solely abstinence-based, and the state holds one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births, as well as STDs.
In 2014, there were only two abortion-providing facilities in Missouri, one of which was a clinic; now the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis is the only remaining facility to provide these services in the state. The legal hoops patients must jump through to obtain a legal abortion along with the expense, time-constraints, and the extremely limited access makes it incredibly difficult in Missouri. According to the Guttmacher Institute, "A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 72 hours" before being able to have an abortion — which, as we keep having to say time and time again, is a safe, legal procedure. What's more, studies show that such waiting times are pretty much pointless, as women generally feel confident in their decisions to have abortions. No one should have to drive over 100 miles several times to receive safe, federally protected care.
This state is home to some of the harshest abortion restrictions in the entire country. North Dakota's 2013 "fetal heartbeat" law, which would have banned women from terminating pregnancies before they were even viable, may have been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016; however there is still only one certified abortion provider in the state — The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo.
A Planned Parenthood facility in Sioux Falls is the only abortion clinic servicing the state of South Dakota. They must have in-person counseling and a 72 hour waiting period, which necessitates two trips to the single facility (certainly not feasible for all who need it). Further limiting reproductive healthcare choices, a bill passed in March 2016 banned abortions after 20 weeks.
Since the closing of EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington on Jan. 27, the EMU Women's Surgical Center in Louisville is the only remaining gynecologic surgery center in the entire state offering abortion services. With only one clinic left and strict restrictions on abortion, access to safe reproductive healthcare is crippled.