Planned Parenthood to launch first-of-its-kind mobile abortion clinic in Midwest

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In the next couple weeks, a Planned Parenthood branch will launch a mobile clinic in Illinois: A 37-foot-long RV with a waiting room, a standard lab and exam rooms.

The clinic will offer medication abortions, and hopes to later offer abortion procedures. The mobile unit is the first of its kind for Planned Parenthood in the nation, according to Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

The mobile clinic plans to be operational by the end of 2022, and Planned Parenthood will analyze patient travel patterns along the southern Illinois border to determine the routes the RV will take.

In the 100 days since the Supreme Court's decision to repeal Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood's location in Fairview Heights, Illinois, which is approximately 20 miles from the Illinois-Missouri border, has seen a 340% increase in people from outside Missouri and Illinois seeking abortion services and wait times for abortion services has increased from four days to two and a half weeks, according to a press release from the organization.

"When Roe fell 100 days ago, we doubled down on our commitment to patients. Today we march forward, expanding access to family planning in Missouri while we take abortion care on the road in Illinois," Rodriguez said in the release, which added that the clinic could help reduce travel distances, wait times and other barriers to accessing abortions.

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On June 24, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt signed an opinion, which activated the "trigger law" banning abortion in the state.

In addition to the mobile clinic, people in Rolla, Missouri, and its surrounding areas will also be able to access reproductive health services, including birth control and vasectomies, as soon as Nov. 1, said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for the regional Planned Parenthood branch.

The Rolla Planned Parenthood will be the branch’s eighth health center in Missouri where patients can access preventive care including birth control, STI testing and treatment, annual exams, vasectomies, and gender-affirming care," according to the Planned Parenthood press release.

The clinic will help "male-bodied patients take a role in family planning," McNicholas said, including vasectomy procedures.

According to the press release, vasectomy patients have increased by more than 240% in the last 100 days.

Follow reporter Susan Szuchon Twitter @szuchsm.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Illinois, Missouri: Planned Parenthood launches mobile abortion clinic