Missouri’s only abortion clinic expects to be shut down this week after the state health department refused to renew its license, which would make it the only US state without a legal abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood said on Tuesday.
“This is not a drill,” said Dr Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which runs the clinic.
“This is not a warning. This is real and it’s a public health crisis,” she added. “More than a million women of reproductive age in Missouri will no longer have access to a health centre in the state they live in that provides abortion care.”
Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the clinic would sue the state health department on Tuesday to preserve access to legal abortions in the state.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Missouri abortion ban
On Friday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill into law that bans abortion beginning in the eighth week of pregnancy.
It was one of several states that have passed anti-abortion legislation this year in an effort aimed at provoking the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 landmark case that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy organisation, nearly 380 abortion restrictions were introduced across the country between January 1 and May 20. About 40 percent of the proposals have been abortion bans.
The Guttmacher Institute has also found that 17 bans have been enacted across 10 states so far this year.
“It is not unusual to see hundreds of abortion restrictions introduced every year, but this high proportion of proposed bans is unprecedented, signaling a substantial shift in tactics at the state level,” the organisation recently said on its website.
Supreme Court avoids abortion question
Separately on Tuesday, the US Supreme Court sent a mixed message on abortion, refusing to consider reinstating Indiana’s ban on abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus while upholding Indiana’s requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated after the procedure is done.
Both provisions were part of a Republican-backed 2016 law signed by Vice President Mike Pence when he was Indiana’s governor.
In an unsigned ruling, with two of the nine-member court’s liberals dissenting, the Supreme Court decided that a lower court was wrong to conclude that Indiana’s fetal burial provision, which imposed new requirements on abortion clinics, had no legitimate purpose. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority.
Although the fetal burial provision was not a direct challenge to the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion, the ruling gave anti-abortion proponents a victory at the Supreme Court.
But the court also indicated a reluctance to directly tackle the abortion issue at least for now, rejecting Indiana’s separate attempt to reinstate its ban on abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus. The court left in place the part of an appeals court ruling that struck down that the provision.
“While this ruling is limited, the law is part of a larger trend of state laws designed to stigmatize and drive abortion care out of reach. Whether it’s a total ban or a law designed to shut down clinics, politicians are lining up to decimate access to abortion,” said Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which was part of the legal challenge to the Indiana law.
Al Jazeera and news agencies