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A Missouri judge on Friday temporarily blocked state officials from shuttering the state’s lone abortion clinic.
The clinic, a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis, was set to stop providing abortion services Friday if the state hadn’t renewed its license. Missouri would have become the first state without an abortion clinic since the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.Story Continued Below
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) and state health officials contended that the clinic had numerous violations that must be addressed before its license could be renewed, but Planned Parenthood said the state was unlawfully conditioning its decision on a routine license renewal application on a vague and politically motivated investigation.
Another hearing on the clinic’s license has been set for next Tuesday, Planned Parenthood said.
Missouri is one of six states with just one clinic providing abortions, according to an analysis from Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. The state this month outlawed most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, joining a raft of states enacting early abortion bans. Lower courts have regularly blocked those bans, but conservatives are hoping the new wave of laws will trigger a Supreme Court challenge that could upend Roe v. Wade.
Missouri health officials said there was at least one incident at the abortion clinic in which patient safety “was gravely compromised.” They also said there were instances of failed surgical abortions in which patients remained pregnant, as well as a failure to obtain a patient’s “informed consent.”
“If Planned Parenthood is following all Missouri laws governing abortion and providing a safe environment for women’s care, they shouldn’t have any issues cooperating with a standard and ordinary review required by state law,” Parson said Wednesday.
The state has also demanded interviews with seven physicians, including trainees, who have performed abortions at the clinic. Two agreed to interviews, but Planned Parenthood said it could not compel the others because they are not employed by the organization.
Planned Parenthood executives accused state officials of orchestrating an unfounded probe to stamp out abortion in a state that has strong restrictions limiting access to the procedure.
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