Missouri’s only abortion clinic — The. Only. One. In. The. Entire. State. — has dodged the bullet and will remain open, at least for now.
Despite protests from Missouri health officials, St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer issued an order Friday that will allow Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic to continue performing abortions open even though the state is refusing to renew its license, the Associated Press reports.
The state’s, er, lack of movement on the license issue should come as no surprise given Missouri’s governor just signed into a law a ban on abortions after eight weeks.
But, as the AP reports, on Friday, citing a need to “prevent irreparable injury” to Planned Parenthood, Judge Stelzer ruled
[t]he clinic’s license will remain in effect until a ruling is issued on Planned Parenthood’s request for a permanent injunction [on the license issue], Stelzer’s ruling says.
Another hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood argued that Missouri was making getting a license renewal harder than it needed to be for political reasons, saying the state was “weaponizing” the licensing process. The organization applauded the judge’s decision.
“We’re still here, because abortion is health care,” Kawanna Shannon, the director of surgical services at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, told reporters, the Washington Post reports. “We’re still here because blocking access to abortion in Missouri threatens the health, rights and lives of people of color and LGBTQ people across our state.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson during a news conference earlier in the week said the state had “serious health concerns” about clinic.
As the Post explained:
the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released a statement that said its annual inspection, conducted in March, found “potential deficient practices,” including noncompliance with a requirement that doctors give patients a pelvic exam three days before the procedure and what the agency called “failed surgical abortions.”
Planned Parenthood said there was nothing wrong with its practices and that it had instituted the additional pelvic exam, but called the invasive procedure medically unnecessary.
If the court ultimately rules against Planned Parenthood, its St. Louis clinic will remain open for general care and services regarding contraception and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and certain cancers.
But women will have to travel out of state to get to the nearest abortion provider, located, according to the Post, in Granite City, Ill., just across the Mississippi River, and in Kansas, more than 250 miles west of St. Louis.