Things are looking pretty bleak in the world of abortion care. A wave of states has already been disturbingly successful at shutting down abortion providers by passing medically unnecessary restrictions on clinics, despite the new laws frequently being blocked in court. In the past three years, 27 states have lost 54 clinics, and while not all closures were due to anti-abortion regulations, plenty were. Considering how few abortion clinics are left in the country—a count in January by The Daily Beast found only 724 left—this loss represents a dramatic decrease in abortion accessibility, especially in states like Texas and Arizona, where huge numbers of clinics shut their doors.
Because of this, pro-choice efforts to increase abortion availability have become all the more important. Luckily for pro-choicers, there is one advantage they have in the abortion arms race: In the first trimester, at least, abortion is incredibly safe and quite simple. Particularly in the era of the abortion pill, you don’t actually need expensive equipment, separate facilities, or even necessarily a medical doctor in order to provide one. As reproductive-rights advocates in the pre-Roe days understood, early abortion is safe and easy enough that even people who were previously not too familiar with the human body can be trained to do it. It’s this straightforwardness that has allowed pro-choice activists to come up with some innovative options to expand access.