ILLINOIS, USA — Abortion services on wheels. That's the latest effort by Planned Parenthood, in a post-Roe world.
The agency will launch its first mobile abortion clinic by the end of the year.
Planned Parenthood announced the plans a month ago. But we are told the idea began when Texas banned abortions after six weeks in 2021.
Once the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood officials said their mission became clearer.
Just this week, the RV was delivered.
Inside the 37-foot vehicle, there is a small waiting room, two full exam rooms, and a lab. Once inside, there will be two doctors and another medical staff member to provide help.
Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said their goal is to expand capacity while reducing the number of miles people are traveling from the Midwest and South to access abortion care because their home state banned abortions.
On Tuesday, the JAMA Network published a new study that showed the average travel time to an abortion facility increased significantly for women after the overturn of Roe.
Rodriguez said they saw a 300% increase in the number of patients traveling to southern Illinois outside of Missouri and Illinois.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said people are driving hundreds of miles and navigating days off of work and childcare.
The van will be driven across the southern Illinois border. Before it officially takes off, they will learn about patient travel patterns, monitor patient experience, and solidify logistical plans.
"Initially, we will service out with medication abortion, but we plan to expand with first-trimester procedural abortion as well," Dr. McNicholas said. "We know providing abortions in this setting is safe."
There are also security cameras on the van and they will only disclose the locations to the patients.
However, not everyone is on board with the idea such as the nonprofit Coalition Life.
Executive Director Brian Westbrook said Planned Parenthood is taking its deadly business on the road.
"This mobile abortion facility won't solve the problems they have," Westbrook said.
Westbrook worries about the patients and the services they may need, once the mobile unit moves to another location.
Despite the pushback, Planned Parenthood will push forward.
"We want to send a clear message, we're going to continue to serve patients no matter what," Rodriguez also said.
The RV will officially launch by the end of the year with procedural abortion services up and run by the first quarter of the next calendar year.
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