As states around the country write strict abortion laws, some of which effectively ban all abortions, Missouri is set to become the first state without an abortion clinic, ABC News reports.
The Show Me State is one of several states, including Alabama and Georgia, that have passed extremely strict abortion laws in recent weeks. Most of those states have passed so-called "fetal heartbeat laws," which outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, which is generally at about six weeks. Since many women don't even realize they're pregnant until after the sixth week, those laws effectively ban all abortions.
Other states' abortion laws are written in such a way that it's all but impossible for a doctor to be allowed to legally perform abortions; others strictly limit where abortions can be performed, effectively limiting the number of abortion clinics in the state to one or two.
However, in this particular case, it's not directly about recently-passed strict abortion laws. Rather, it's about paperwork and alleged foot-dragging by officials.
In Missouri, only one abortion clinic -- a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis -- remains open. However, that facility's license is about to expire, and a representative from the national agency claims that Missouri officials may not renew that license, effectively making Missouri the only state without an abortion clinic.If or when that happens, it would be the first time since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in the 1970s that any of the 50 states has been without an operational abortion clinic.
The agency has applied to have its license renewed, but Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services, the agency that issued the license, has said that there are "deficiencies" in the application but declined to give specifics.
Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told reporters on Tuesday that what's happening in Missouri is spreading across the nation. "This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is real and it is a public health crisis," she said.
It's a claim echoed by one of the clinic's doctors, Colleen McNicholas. "This is the foreshadowing of what is going to happen in other states," she said, stating that Missouri's closing of its only abortion clinic is a direct assault on "the rights and freedoms we fought for over decades."
Planned Parenthood has filed an emergency lawsuit to allow the state's one remaining abortion clinic to remain open.