Over the weekend, CBS News and Harper’s Bazaar published stories in praise of the Regional Logistics Center, a partnership between Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and the Hope Clinic For Women, that helps patients across the Midwest have access to abortions.
The idea for the Regional Logistics Center was born out of necessity. In May 2019, the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri, St. Louis’ Planned Parenthood, nearly closed. Missouri health officials refused to renew the clinic’s license and only a judge stepping in at the last minute allowed the clinic to continue operating.
Clinics in Illinois saw a surge of patients, many of whom had to be turned away. Erin King, executive director at Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois, wanted to avoid that happening again.
King and Yamelsie Rodríguez, the president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, came up with a more centralized system, where patients could call one number and be connected to all the resources necessary to obtain an abortion.
A draft decision by Justice Samuel Alito indicates the Supreme Court plans to turn abortion-rights decisions over to the states. If that happens, America will most likely become a patchwork of different abortion-access laws. Illinois, where the Regional Logistics Center is located, is surrounded by states that are all but certain to end abortion access. But with the RLC, someone from Oklahoma wouldn’t have to look around for days or weeks trying to find a nearby clinic or be duped into going to a pregnancy resource center or crisis pregnancy center, neither of which provide abortions.
The Regional Logistics Center makes all of the arrangements for patients to get an abortion including booking travel to the clinic, making hotel reservations, finding funding for the procedure and arranging childcare if necessary.
Planned Parenthood built an 18,000 square-foot facility in Fairview Heights in secret to help meet expected need. According to the Harper’s Bazaar article, state bans on abortions don’t reduce abortions. “The vast majority of people denied abortions in Texas went on to have them anyway, according to two studies by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. By the end of last year, an average of nearly 1,400 Texans were leaving the state for abortion care each month.”
The articles also detailed how, despite the facility and clinics being in Illinois, Missouri state lawmakers are still trying to shut it down. State Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Jefferson County) has pushed measures to allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion in another state.
“I don’t think if you live in Missouri or if you live in New York, your value as a person is any less,” Coleman explained about her stance to CBS. “So I’d like to see us continue to try to fight this at a national level as well.”
“Fortunately for the patients who walk through Hope’s doors, King and a small team from the Planned Parenthood about 20 minutes away in Fairview Heights, Illinois, have been preparing for this moment since 2019,” Caitlin Moscatello writes in her Harper’s Bazaar article. “King can’t control what SCOTUS decides, but she can help people get to Hope [Clinic for Women] and get abortion care.”