SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In the coming weeks, a Planned Parenthood branch will launch a mobile clinic in Illinois: a 37-foot-long RV with a waiting room, standard lab and exam rooms.
The clinic will offer medication abortions and hopes to offer abortion procedures later. 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 and southwest Missouri.
The mobile clinic is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2022, and Planned Parenthood will analyze patient travel patterns along Illinois’ southern border to determine the routes the RV will take.
In the 100 days since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Planned Parenthood location in Fairview Heights, Illinois, which is approximately 20 miles from the Illinois-Missouri border, has seen a 340 percent increase in people from outside of Missouri and Illinois. Requests for abortion services and wait times for abortion services have increased from four days to two and a half weeks, according to a statement from the organization.
“When Roe came down 100 days ago, we redoubled our commitment to patients. Today, we’re moving forward, expanding access to family planning in Missouri while addressing roadside abortion in Illinois,” Rodriguez said in the statement, which added that the clinic could help reduce travel distances, wait times and other barriers to accessing abortion.
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On June 24, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt signed an opinion, activating the “active law” that bans abortion in the state.
In addition to the mobile clinic, people in and around Rolla, Mo., will also be able to access reproductive health services, such as birth control and vasectomies, as early as Nov. 1, Dr. Colleen said McNicholas, medical director of the regional delegation of family planning.
Rolla Planned Parenthood will be the branch’s eighth health center in Missouri, where patients will be able to access preventive care including birth control, STI testing and treatment, annual exams, vasectomies and care ‘gender affirming,’” according to Planned Parenthood’s 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 more than 240% in the last 100 days.
Follow reporter Susan Szuchon on Twitter @szuchsm.