In 2022 alone, at least 42 independent abortion clinics have been forced to close or stop providing abortion care. We need everyone in this fight to keep our clinics open.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it made apparent what abortion providers have known for years: that abortion bans harm our communities and force clinics to close. Without those community-based clinics, even the right to abortion is meaningless.
Roe was never enough to guarantee access to abortion, though. Abortion restrictions, systemic inequities, a lack of clinics and growing extremism pushed care out of reach for thousands of people even before the Dobbs decision. Though many experienced the Court’s decision as sudden, in truth, it was the culmination of years of coordinated attacks against bodily autonomy that will impact millions of people for generations to come.
Each year, Abortion Care Network works with our clinic members and www.ineedanA.com to take a census of all the clinics in the U.S., which we publish in our annual Communities Need Clinics report. The landscape of abortion care we described in our 2022 report was not unexpected, but that doesn’t make the harm less devastating.
Today, there are 14 states without a single abortion clinic. … Independent abortion providers take the risks to serve their communities and fight for human rights and dignity.
Independent abortion clinics provide the majority of abortion care in the United States and do so in the states most hostile to abortion access. In 2022 alone, at least 42 independent abortion clinics have been forced to close or stop providing abortion care. Since Abortion Care Network began tracking independent clinic status in 2015, there has never been a state without at least one abortion clinic—but today, there are 14 states without a single abortion clinic. Independent clinics are the majority of clinics providing abortion care after the first trimester and are the most vulnerable to anti-abortion attacks.
We have the numbers, but statistics alone can’t describe what we lose when independent clinics are forced to close. Communities throughout the country rely on independent clinics for not only care, but for technical knowledge, medical innovation and their work challenging abortion bans in the courts. Independent abortion providers take the risks to serve their communities and fight for human rights and dignity.
Before the overturning of Roe, indies were already navigating a difficult environment, providing care amid limited funding, rapidly changing laws, threats of violence and a global health crisis.
In the months following the overturning of Roe, both providers and people seeking abortions have had to grapple with devastating abortion bans, massive confusion, harassment from extremists, and constant political interference in both patient care and personal decision-making. The harm has been especially concentrated in the South and Midwest. Providers and clinics are sending patients out of their state for care, fighting for ballot measures to protect abortion access and sometimes closing their doors entirely.
Roe v. Wade was always the floor. It was never enough to ensure equitable, affordable access to abortion care. Now, without the federal protection of Roe, the United States has fallen even further below the World Health Organization’s global standards for abortion.
By failing to do the bare minimum to legally protect abortion rights, state legislatures can further chip away at abortion access, which will deepen the already grim maternal mortality, contraceptive and health access gaps.
When clinics close, communities lose more than just abortion access: Independent clinics often offer full spectrum reproductive health services like birth control, sex education, gender-affirming treatments and PrEP for HIV prevention. These clinics provide care when and where others do not and serve people who face the greatest barriers to healthcare—including people of color, rural communities, young people, LGBTQ patients, people who need care later in pregnancy, and patients who are struggling to make ends meet.
Though many experienced the Court’s decision as sudden, in truth, it was the culmination of years of coordinated attacks against bodily autonomy that will impact millions of people for generations to come.
The people who work at abortion clinics are rooted in their communities; they are our partners, parents, neighbors, caregivers, family members and friends. Networks like the National Network of Abortion Funds and independent clinics work together to ensure that as many people as possible can get the abortion care they need.
Clinics being forced to close or relocate out of state means that people will be unable to get the abortions they need. Physicians and hospitals are confronting the confusion of changing abortion laws, leaving people who are miscarrying or facing other pregnancy issues without the compassionate care they are qualified and willing—but legally barred from—providing. When abortion clinics are forced to close, everyone suffers.
As deputy director of Abortion Care Network, the only national organization dedicated solely to supporting independent clinics, I’ve seen firsthand how clinics have been impacted by the Supreme Court’s disregard for human rights, healthcare and the well-being of pregnant people, families and entire communities. Despite ongoing challenges, we’ve seen the resilience of independent clinics and providers and heard the voices of voters and the public like never before.
Across the U.S., indie clinics are often the last line of defense, providing care when and where others do not, helping people navigate an increasingly confusing and sparse landscape of care, and challenging damaging abortion bans in the courts.
We have a long fight ahead to reimagine and build a country where abortion is not just legal but available, affordable, supported and destigmatized. To get there, we must stand up for the care providers—independent clinics and the workers who face not only legislative but personal attacks.
Keep Our Clinics is helping to keep clinics open—even if they have to pause abortion services—by providing funding to cover expenses like increased security, staff pay, building repairs, legal fees and community education and advocacy.
We need everyone in this fight to keep our clinics open, support independent abortion providers, and work to ensure that abortion—undeniably a human right—is recognized as a fundamental, constitutional, legal right once again.
U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.