Missouri’s Last-Remaining Abortion Clinic Can Stay Open for Now—but the State Has Yanked Its License

An anti-abortion protester outside the Planned Parenthood of St. Louis clinic, Missouri’s lone abortion provider
Photo: Getty

Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, which happens to be the only abortion provider left in the state of Missouri, can keep providing the service for now, but Missouri officially yanked its license Friday, endangering the clinic’s operation long-term.

If Planned Parenthood ends up closing its doors, Missouri will become the only state in the nation without an abortion provider, NBC News reports.

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However, the clinic remains open, due to a judge’s decision Friday to continue a ruling to delay Missouri’s enforcement of its decision.

“It is still very, very difficult to access abortion in Missouri because of medically unnecessary hoops and regulations, but you can still come to Planned Parenthood today for all of your reproductive health care,” said M’Evie Mead, of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, according to NBC. “And that is a good day for women.”

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It’s the latest skirmish in the battle over abortion in Missouri, a state that just this spring passed one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws, outlawing the procedure after the eighth week of pregnancy, with no exceptions for pregnancies occurring due to rape or incest.

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Missouri contends Planned Parenthood operates a shoddy practice, citing violations including, as the Associated Press reported in May: “at least one incident in which patient safety was gravely compromised”; “failed surgical abortions in which women remained pregnant”; and an alleged failure to obtain “informed consent.”

Planned Parenthood denies the state’s contention, telling NBC it “has consistently provided high-quality care.”

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The state also required women to undergo two pelvic exams before having an abortion, something Planned Parenthood decided to stop doing, saying the medical standard is to have one such exam, The Kansas City Star reports. 

On Friday, the head of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates medical service providers, said it would no longer require such exams three days in advance of an abortion, instead allowing them to take place closer to the procedure date, according to the Star.

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But all this goes to how we got to a point where a whole state (in Missouri’s case, population: 6.1 million, half of them women or girls) has just one abortion provider.

As NBC explains:

Missouri is one of six states that has only one abortion clinic. The other five states are Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

Missouri had more abortion clinics in the past; in 2008, there were five. But in the past decade, the clinics were unable to keep up with the state’s stringent and perpetually evolving requirements, with some closing and then reopening again and then shuttering for good.

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And as we’ve said in this space before, the passage of extraordinarily restrictive abortion legislation in about half a dozen states this year alone — (lawmakers in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi passed harsh abortion bills in addition to Missouri)is all an open move by anti-abortion activists to try to get Roe v. Wade, the nation’s landmark law legalizing abortion, overturned.

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Elections matter, folks. Elections matter.

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