Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, the last remaining abortion provider in Missouri, told CBS News on Wednesday that it’s going to stop complying with a state regulation requiring doctors to perform two pelvic exams on women seeking abortions.
Starting soon, doctors will only perform a pelvic exam when women go in for the procedure, which is when health providers consider it medically necessary. They will stop performing a pelvic exam when those patients come in for an initial consultation, which Missouri state law requires women to do 72 hours before receiving an abortion.
“Over the last few weeks, I have new evidence to say that 100% of the patients who I’ve taken care of who’ve undergone this inappropriate, medically unnecessary, unethical pelvic exam have been harmed by that,” Dr. David Eisenberg, the clinic’s medical director, said in an interview with CBS News. “Because to do so, in my opinion, is just assault.”
Planned Parenthood did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Other doctors in Missouri have spoken out about the effect the extra pelvic exam has on their patients. St. Louis OB-GYN Amy Addante tweeted out earlier this month how “invasive” it was to perform it on one of her patients.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the new pelvic exam policy late last month, which has been one of the issues at the center of an ongoing lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed against the state for refusing to make a decision about the St. Louis clinic’s license renewal.
A judge ruled last week that the state has until Friday to make a final decision. If the state were to simply let the license lapse, Planned Parenthood would not be entitled to a court review of the state’s decision to deny the license.
Missouri is one of several states at the center of a nationwide abortion debate. Last month, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed a bill that bans abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy except in the case of a medical emergency. Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have also all passed extreme abortion restrictions in recent months.
Planned Parenthood also recently opted to defy an upcoming state law in Alabama outlawing nearly all abortions. Last week, the organization said it was going to continue building a large women’s clinic in Birmingham and expected construction to be completed in November. That’s when the state’s restrictive law is set to go into effect, but it will likely be blocked by courts amid an onslaught of lawsuits.