Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Abortion access in Missouri is booming. Until this month, the state had only one abortion provider: a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis. On Monday, the organization announced that its clinic in Kansas City is now offering medication abortion. Its Columbia outpost will soon offer surgical abortions, too, and two others will likely follow.
For the past several years, Planned Parenthood and other women’s health clinics in Missouri have been targeted by restrictions that forced abortion providers to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and retrofit their facilities to meet surgical center standards.
Those laws eventually became common goals of anti-abortion legislators around the country, but Missouri was ahead of the curve: In 1986, it was the first state to enact mandatory hospital admitting privileges. After the Supreme Court’s historic ruling that overturned similar restrictions in Texas, Planned Parenthood and two other reproductive rights groups took Missouri to federal court, arguing that it had four clinics in the state that could provide abortions—in addition to existing contraceptive care and health services—if the regulations were lifted.