Missouri's Last Abortion Clinic (Potentially) Closing

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Posted: May 28, 2019 4:00 PM
Missouri's Last Abortion Clinic (Potentially) Closing

Source: Timothy Tai/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP

Missouri is slated to become the first state with no functioning abortion clinic since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, representatives of Planned Parenthood Foundation of America (PPFA) said on Tuesday.

“This is the world that the Trump administration and Republican public officials across the country have been pushing for—a world where abortion care is illegal and inaccessible in this country,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO of PPFA in a Tuesday afternoon release.

“This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is a real public health crisis,” Wen also said.

“Just like the Trump administration and the state politicians they embolden, Missouri Governor Parson’s inspections process has become just another vehicle to intimidate doctors like me and to push abortion care out of reach for patients. None of this has one bit to do with patient health or safety, but rather, banning abortion. State officials continue moving the goal post on abortion providers until we can no longer provide care,” said  Dr. Colleen McNicholas, OB-GYN, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (RHS).

Missouri’s potential elimination of its remaining abortion clinic could come as soon as May 31—the date by which their annual license as an abortion provider must be renewed.

RHS, the state’s last remaining abortion clinic, is filing a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis today, according to PPFA’s press release.

The sticking point for the organization reportedly involves state regulations, not Missouri’s recently-signed bill making abortion illegal in the state beyond eight weeks of pregnancy with the exception of medical emergencies.

Last week, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services notified the organization of “three issues that could impact license renewal,” CBS News explained.

One of those issues involves the department interviewing physicians at the clinic in order to investigate “deficient practices.” The snag with this requirement, reportedly, is that the organization employs only two of the seven with whom the state wants to speak, and those who are not employed by Planned Parenthood “have not agreed to be interviewed.”

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PPFA described the interviews as “inappropriate interrogation” in today’s release.

An additional sticking point involves the state’s requirement for a pelvic exam for patients prior to undergoing a medical (pill-based) abortion. Though the organization agreed to administer the required exam for surgical abortions, “the group won’t budge on pill-administered ones,” calling the exam “medically irrelevant” and “bordering on harassment.”

“Planned Parenthood has served Missouri for more than 87 years, and we will fight to provide care for another century. Our top priority is to maintain access to abortion and ensure every patient can access high-quality care in Missouri,” PPFA tweeted on Tuesday.