With Missouri recently losing its penultimate abortion clinic, the race is on to become the first state without any abortion clinics whatsoever. Missouri joins five other states–Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming–with only a single abortion clinic.
The next to last abortion clinic in Missouri, located near the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, was only doing sporadic abortions in recent years. Abortions were initially halted in 2011 when the abortionist was deployed overseas. According to Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, in recent weeks the clinic stopped maintaining their license to operate.
Missouri is one of many states that have enacted laws that have beleaguered abortion clinics, such as requiring them to upgrade their facilities or requiring the abortionist to have admitting privileges at the local hospital.
Operation Rescue documents women being taken from abortion clinics by ambulance in order to show how unsafe abortionists can be. In many cases, the abortionist cannot go with her. Two new laws under consideration in Missouri may make it harder still for the remaining clinic in St. Louis. Legislators are considering expanding the 24-hour waiting period to 72 hours, which could reduce revenue for the final clinic as the extra time may give the woman second thoughts.
Another bill would require the presence of a licensed physician when a woman gets the first dose of an abortion drug. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, the past two years have been a bonanza for pro-life laws. They report more pro-life laws have passed in the past two years than in the previous ten years combined. According to the report, “24 states enacted 53 anti-choice measures in 2013. Arkansas enacted the most anti-choice legislation in 2013, with 8. Oklahoma enacted 5, and Missouri and North Dakota enacted 4 anti-choice laws.”
NARAL categorizes the laws in ten broad categories including “‘counseling bans and gag rules, insurance prohibition for abortion, refusal to provide medical services” and the one they like the least, “targeted regulations of abortion providers.” In January, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article titled “The Stealth War on Abortion” about the state by state pro-life strategy.
NARAL President Nancy Northrup told Rolling Stone that pro-lifers have resorted to the strategy because they could not win an up or down vote by the American people on abortion. Of course, what stands in the way of any up or down vote by anyone except the Supreme Court is the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right. Any state lawmaker must keep that in mind, although many states have begun to pass outright bans on abortion, one of which could upend Roe.
Are such laws effective in reducing abortion? According to the CDC, low abortion rates correlate with increased restrictions on abortion. Of the six states with only one clinic, Mississippi has the lowest rate in the country. South Dakota and Missouri are in the bottom five. Arkansas and Wyoming are also low. In fact, according to LifeNews, Arkansas’s abortion rate dropped to its lowest level since 1977, and Missouri’s rate dropped 9.4% 2010 alone.
Northrup is right about one thing. The state-by-state tactic is obvious to anyone paying attention. Short of overturning Roe, all pro-lifers can do legislatively is nip around the edges of the abortion regime and in the process make running an abortion clinic so hard that the mom and pop clinics cannot cope, eventually leaving only the Barnes and Noble of abortion, Planned Parenthood. So, which state becomes the first to go abortion-clinic free? Six states are in the running with even more pro-life laws about to pass.