Accessible, affordable abortion is a fundamental right for everybody, regardless of their zip code, gender, race, disability, or citizenship status. But decades of targeted restrictions on abortion providers (aka TRAP laws) have made accessing and affording abortion diffictult, if not impossible.TRAP laws are state laws that place medically unnecessary and burdensome regulations on clinics that provide abortions, which often create undue burdens on patients and providers. Simply put: TRAP laws are designed to shut down clinics and make accessing abortion almost impossible.
On Monday, June 29th, the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) decided in June Medical Services v. Russo that a Louisiana TRAP law requiring admitting privileges for providers was unconstitutional. The SCOTUS decision is a win for abortion rights and reproductive freedom, but it’s also a stark reminder that abortion is under consistant threat in Missouri — and all 50 states.
Anti-abortion policymakers across the country introduce TRAP laws every year, often guising them as safety precautions. In Missouri, Republican legislatures have used TRAP laws, including a 72-hour mandated waiting period for patients or room size regulations in certain clinics, to shut down all but one clinic that provides abortion in the state, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis and Southwest Region in St. Louis. And while clinic closures impact everybody, they disproportionately hurt low-income individuals, trans and non binary folks, disabled folks, adolescents, and people of color, especially Black folks who already face multi-layered barriers to healthcare. The more abortion is restricted in a state, the wider the gap between people and access to basic reproductive health care.
TRAP laws are used to regulate abortion providers out of providing care. Admitting privileges, which require abortion providers to have the stated ability to admit patients at a local hospital, have nothing to do with improving the safety of those seeking or providing abortions, and places an undue burden on providers. Missouri was the first state to introduce the admitting privileges requirement back in 1986. And admitting privilege requirements are a prime reason only one abortion clinic is left in our state, even though tens of thousands of Missourians need abortions every year.
It’s clear that he sole objective of these regulations is to gut abortion access so that millions of people, disproportionately low-income and Black people, are obstructed from making decisions about their body. Abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure, and abortion providers rarely need to transfer patients to hospitals. Hospitals are less willing to invest in providers who don’t regularly admit patients to the hospitals, which makes it hard for abortion providers to find a hospital that will grant them admitting privileges in the first place.
TRAP laws are a ploy designed to shut down clinics, undermine Roe, and ultimately ban abortion. No person should be forced to jump through hoops to access time-sensitive, essential abortion services. Anti-abortion extremists may continue to use dangerous TRAP laws to outlaw abortion, but we will never stop fighting for legal, accessible, local access to abortion.