Earlier this year, after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh cemented a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, states across the midwest and southeast began passing draconian abortion restrictions. Three came in just the span of one week. In Alabama, one proposed law would put doctors who perform abortions in jail. Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a "fetal heartbeat" bill that effectively bans abortion six weeks after conception, earlier than most women know they're pregnant. And Missouri, which is now down to a single clinic that provides abortions in the entire state, passed a ban on the procedure after eight weeks.
All of these laws are being challenged in court, and the lawmakers behind them are in a rush to be the first to arrive at the Supreme Court and possibly strike the fatal blow to Roe v. Wade. But women's health providers aren't sitting by idly. According to CBS News, Planned Parenthood has been quietly building a "mega clinic" in Illinois near the border with Missouri, just 13 miles from Missouri's last remaining clinic. Since August of last year, Planned Parenthood has used a shell company to construct the facility, which will be one of the largest women's clinics in the country. Per CBS News:
Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said the facility was built in secret to avoid protestors and delays. Other Planned Parenthood projects had run into problems once the public realized the construction was for an abortion provider. In one instance, a communications company had refused to install telephone and data lines; in another, a cabinet maker never delivered an order, McNicholas said. In Birmingham, Alabama, protestors targeted Planned Parenthood's suppliers, flooding their social media accounts with fake negative reviews.
Threats against abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have been on the rise over the last few years. In August alone, an Ohio teenager with 25 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition was arrested after making threats against Planned Parenthood online; a Pennsylvania man broke into a clinic, shattered windows, and spray-painted Bible verses; and a 19-year-old in Chicago was arrested after threatening to kill doctors who perform abortions.
Women in the U.S. are more likely to suffer health complications from giving birth than they are from getting an abortion, and globally access to abortion goes hand-in-hand with lower rates of maternal mortality. The U.S. by contrast has the highest maternal mortality rate of any wealthy country in the world. And the negative impact of abortion restriction goes reaches well beyond a woman's time in the hospital. According to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics, when mothers are denied abortions, their existing children then struggle to achieve developmental milestones—language, motor, social, and emotional skills—and the economic health of the household also suffers.
While other states have been attacking women's access to health care, Illinois lawmakers this year committed to expanding them by declaring abortion a "fundamental right." In 2017, 5,528 women traveled to Illinois for abortions from more restrictive states, an increase of more than 1,000 from the year before.
Of course, only women with resources to travel and time are able to make the journey across state lines to access health care. But the new Planned Parenthood clinic on the Illinois-Missouri border will hopefully ease the strain for some women at least.
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Originally Appeared on GQ