BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) – Some 45 abortion clinics across the U.S. ceased performing the procedure in 2020, according to a recent report published by Operation Rescue, a pro-life advocacy organization.
About half of these clinics provided surgical abortion, while the others provided abortion pills, which facilitate chemical abortions, the report said.
“Chemical abortion … is becoming more popular as the abortion procedure of choice,” said Eric Johnston, an attorney with the Southeast Law Institute in Birmingham, Ala.
One reason is because they are more convenient, said Laura Echevarria, director of communications and press secretary for National Right to Life. The rhetoric around chemical abortions “muddies the waters philosophically” for many women.
“A woman could convince herself that all she did is induce a miscarriage,” Echevarria said. “The terminology is different and the way that people think about it is different. And the humanity of the child is lost in all of that.”
Nineteen of the 56 abortion facilities that closed, or indefinitely ceased operations, were in New York and California – states that enacted strict lockdowns in an effort to quell the spread of the coronavirus.
These lockdowns may have contributed to the inability of some facilities to perform abortions, Operation Rescue said.
When factoring in states that added to their number of clinics, there was a net decrease of four nationwide in 2020, the report showed.
Missouri became the first state without a functioning abortion clinic last year. Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming each had a single clinic in 2020.
Planned Parenthood operated 52 percent of U.S. abortion clinics, but 58 percent of abortions were conducted at independent clinics, according to the report.
Prior to the pandemic, very few abortion facilities provided women the option to abort pregnancy through telemedicine programs. Operation Rescue found that in 2020 that number rose to 69.
Most of these telemedicine abortion programs were developed by existing clinics. Two new abortion businesses – Just the Pill, based in Minnesota, and Choix, based in California – launched last year with the sole purpose of providing women in these states with abortive drugs exclusively through the U.S. Postal Service, Operation Rescue said.
These businesses were able to operate because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed a 2000 federal law requiring women to visit a clinic, doctor’s office or hospital before being eligible to receive drugs that induce abortion – a reaction to reduced abortion capacity in many areas from regulations aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
On Jan. 12, however, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the requirement that women must be seen in person before being prescribed abortion-inducing drugs.