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The Last Abortion Clinic in Missouri Could Be Closed By the End of the Week

“The terrifying reality is that access is hanging on by a thread with a narrowing timeline.”

by Carter Sherman
Jun 24 2019, 7:20pm

The last abortion clinic in Missouri will stay open through Friday, but the clinic’s fate beyond that date is far from guaranteed.

The Missouri health department declined to renew Planned Parenthood of St. Louis’ license to perform abortions last Friday. On Monday, Judge Michael Seltzer instructed the clinic to appeal the ruling to the Administrative Hearing Commission, meaning Planned Parenthood effectively has until Friday to make its case.

If the clinic is forced to close, Missouri would become the first state since 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide, to be without an abortion provider.

“The terrifying reality is that access is hanging on by a thread with a narrowing timeline,” Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said in a statement. “The truth is, if the Administrative Hearing Commission does not act by Friday, abortion access in the state of Missouri will be gone.”

Missouri told the clinic in May that it wanted to interview several physicians over concerns about what the state termed “deficient practices.” But many of the requested physicians were not directly employed by Planned Parenthood, and the organization said it could not compel them to sit for interviews.

Because the clinic’s license was originally set to expire on May 31, Planned Parenthood sued the state to keep its doors open. Seltzer issued a temporary stay that allowed the clinic to continue performing abortions.

Last week, Planned Parenthood announced that it also would not abide by the state’s requirement to perform two pelvic exams, days apart, on patients who wanted an abortion.

“Abortion care is health care and patients in need of this service shouldn’t have to wait day by day wondering if they can access care tomorrow, nor should they have ever had to undergo invasive exams that have nothing to do with their health,” McNicholas added on Monday.

Cover: A Missouri judge says the state’s lone abortion clinic can continue performing abortions, at least in the near future.St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer on Monday, June 24, 2019, ruled to extend a preliminary injunction he previously issued to allow a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis to continue performing abortions through June 28. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP File)