POLITICS

Missouri’s Last Clinic Providing Abortions Can Remain Open — For Now

The state’s Administrative Hearing Commission issued an order Friday finding the Department of Health and Senior Services’ argument “unpersuasive.”

The sole clinic that provides abortions in Missouri can continue to offer the procedure until at least Aug. 1, thanks to a state commission’s decision on Friday. 

The St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic nearly lost its license earlier this month, which would have left the state without a single facility that offered abortions. The state had five abortion clinics in 2008, but now is down to one. If the clinic closed, it would make Missouri the only state in the nation to not provide abortion access since 1973, when the Supreme Court codified abortion as a right with its ruling in Roe v. Wade. 

“We are relieved to have this last-minute reprieve, which means patients can continue accessing safe, legal abortion at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis for the time being,” Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN at the clinic, said in a statement about the decision on Friday. 

In anticipation of its license expiring and not being renewed at the end of May, Planned Parenthood of St. Louis sued Missouri. A district judge allowed it to remain open temporarily, though the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services decided on June 1 it would not renew the clinic’s license, citing deficiencies at the clinic

A district judge sided with the clinic on June 10, allowing it to continue providing abortions until June 21 under a preliminary injunction. 

Then, on June 21, the Department of Health and Senior Services made its final ruling to not renew the clinic’s license. In response, Planned Parenthood said the department had “weaponized a regulatory process”

The Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis stepped in, extending the license until Friday. And on Friday, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, in the executive branch of the state’s government, joined the courts’ inclination and allowed Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region to continue providing abortions ― at least until later in the summer. 

The Aug. 1 hearing will review the state’s decision to refuse to renew Planned Parenthood’s license.

The Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri is temporarily allowed to continue providing abortions.
The Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri is temporarily allowed to continue providing abortions.

The Department of Health and Senior Services argued in the order that the clinic had to provide interviews with physicians to help them investigate “stated failures.” The commission found this position “unpersuasive.”

McNicholas said in a statement that patients will continue to face uncertainty and called Gov. Michael Parson’s (R) agenda to ban abortion “unjust and cruel” as well as, following court and Administrative Commission Hearing rulings, “unlawful.”

“Patients should never have to worry that they may lose access to health care tomorrow because of a politically driven campaign to end abortion access,” McNicholas said.

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