ST. LOUIS– Abortion providers in St. Louis are preparing for an uptick in out-of-state patients now that Texas’ new 6-week abortion ban is in effect.
The Texas law prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks and before most women even know they’re pregnant.
Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (RHS) is already fielding calls from Texans who are looking for access to abortions.
Last year, RHS and Hope Clinic for Women, another southwest Illinois abortion provider, say they saw patients traveling from Texas for care.
Planned Parenthood and Hope Clinic have invested nearly $10 million in clinical capacity and infrastructure in preparation for more abortion bans and restrictions from neighboring states.
The organizations says the number of women crossing state lines to have an abortion in Illinois has gown each year since 2014.
At least 12 other states have enacted bans on abortion early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.
Missouri’s 2019 bill banning abortions at eight weeks is still in the middle of a legal battle. In July, a full federal appeals court panel reheard the case.
Missouri has only one abortion provider. Earlier this year, it said it was performing fewer abortions because the state restrictions are prompting many women to drive to Illinois.
“RHS in Missouri is currently fighting one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. The Eighth Circuit is hearing that case in a matter of weeks. Today it’s Texas, tomorrow it could be Missouri,” says Yamelsie Rodríguez, President and CEO, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.
Abortion providers are asking the Supreme Court to step in over the Texas law. They say the law would rule out 85% of abortions in Texas and force many clinics to close. Planned Parenthood is among the abortion providers that have stopped scheduling abortions beyond six weeks from conception.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.