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Planned Parenthood supporters rally in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 31, 2019. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

Womb wars

Missouri’s sole abortion clinic remains open — for now

By WITW Staff on June 4, 2019

Missouri’s lone abortion clinic remains open for the time being, after a judge gave the clinic more time to resolve a dispute with state health officials that had threatened to shut down its abortion services, according to The New York Times. The shutdown would make Missouri the first state where abortion is inaccessible since around the time of Roe v. Wade.

The dispute began when the state health department said it did not intend to renew the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to provide abortion care when it expired on May 31. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging the plan.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said that the license would be renewed if Planned Parenthood corrected “deficiencies” uncovered by state investigators.

Parson recently signed a restrictive abortion bill that criminalizes the procedure during and after the eighth week of pregnancy, but he maintained that the clinic’s licensing issue was not “a pro-life issue,” according to TIME. He said the clinic had experienced “a series of incidents that raised concerns about quality of care,” including failed surgical abortions and at least one complication that required emergency surgery.

Documents provided to CBS News by Planned Parenthood gave further insight into the dispute. According to the documents, the health department had alerted Planned Parenthood to three issues that could impact license renewal. Planned Parenthood said it could address two of the issues: adjusting its providers of state-mandated counseling and adding an additional pelvic exam for abortion patients. It said a third request — that the health department interview seven physicians who provide care at the clinic — was beyond its control. Planned Parenthood said it could offer interviews with only the two who are its employees; the other five are residents in training and not employed by Planned Parenthood.

The residents declined to be interviewed for the state’s investigation. The health department said it could not “complete our investigation until it interviews the physicians involved in the care provided in the potential deficient practices,” CBS News reported.

As a result of the impasse, the clinic’s license expired on May 31, technically barring it from continuing to provide abortion services. But Judge Michael F. Stelzer of Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis gave the clinic permission to continue operations given the “immediate and irreparable injury” it would suffer if its license were allowed to lapse.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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