(Image: Paul Sableman, Creative Commons)

These are bleak times for women’s reproductive rights.

Emboldened by the conservative tilt of the Supreme Court, legislatures across the country are effectively outlawing abortion. This disturbing trend has become painfully evident in Missouri, which nearly became the first state without an abortion clinic.

Since 2008, Missouri’s legislature has gradually passed a number of onerous laws that have forced clinics to close. Most recently, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a law banning abortions after eight weeks. This law infringes heavily on women’s reproductive rights, rendering abortion a crime before many pregnant women are able to confirm that they are pregnant.

The state’s last clinic, operated by Planned Parenthood, nearly lost its license this week. Since March, state authorities have accused the clinic of unnamed “deficient practices.” Officials refused to renew the license until the clinic’s doctors sat for interviews, which carried the explicit threat of criminal prosecution. The strategy behind this campaign is transparent: instead of outlawing abortion outright, authorities have made it nearly impossible for organizations offering the procedure to operate legally.

Hours before the clinic’s license was set to expire on May 31, a judge ruled that the facility can remain operating for the time being.

This minor victory does not change the fact that state officials have violated women’s reproductive rights while using the levers of government to prevent nonprofit healthcare workers from pursuing their missions.

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