Missouri’s Last Abortion Clinic Says It May Lose Its License This Week
Published in May 2019 / Updated in Aug 2021
In Missouri, the last abortion clinic may lose its license this week, leaving women throughout the state without access to safe abortion care.
Planned Parenthood’s license to provide abortion services at St. Louis health center will not be renewed by the state health departments. The current one expires on 31 May.
During a call with the reporters on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen said:
“This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is real, and it is a public health crisis.”
“This will be the first time since 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade was decided, that safe, legal abortion care will be inaccessible to people in an entire state.”
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging the plan and requesting a restraining order that’ll allow the clinic to continue providing abortion services after 31 May.
Dr. Leana Wen said:
“I can use no other word to describe what is happening other than the weaponization of the licensing process.”
“This has nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with politics.”
On Tuesday the Planned Parenthood’s license was ‘under review.’ But the spokesperson didn’t respond to any further questions regarding the issue.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services notified Planned Parenthood about the three issues that could impact the license renewal.
And on 22 May, Planned Parenthood said that it’d only address two issues, adding pelvic exams for abortion patients and adjusting the specialists who’re allowed to provide state-mandated counseling.
But Planned Parenthood reported that the third request was out of control, and the department was investigating “deficient practices.” It also needed to interview seven physicians who performed abortion care at the clinic.
The Department of Health wrote in a letter that it couldn’t complete its investigation “until it interviews the physicians involved in the care provided in the potential deficient practices.”
The department also added that “the investigation needs to be completed and any deficiencies resolved before the expiration of [the clinic’s] license on 31 May 2019.”
A Planned Parenthood physician at St. Louis, Dr. Colleen McNicholas, said the department hadn’t yet shared the details concerning the investigation nor their potential concerns.
Dr. Colleen expects to be interviewed by the Department of Health on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are 100 percent committed to the best care that we can provide for patients. So certainly if there is an issue with the care, we’re providing we want to know about it.”
“We want to be able to address that. But we can’t do that when we’re being attacked.”
Although six states, including Missouri, have voted into law and banning all abortion practices, the law hasn’t yet been enacted.
Planned Parenthood agreed to administer a pelvic exam on surgical abortions, but the group wouldn’t interfere with pills-administered treatments.
Dr. Colleen said:
“When I say an unnecessary pelvic exam what I mean is that the state is forcing me to put my fingers in somebody’s vagina when it is totally medically irrelevant.”
“That is really bordering on harassment… I am really proud of our clinicians for taking a stand and saying you know we just won’t do that to patients.”
As per now, only two abortion clinics are operating in Missouri. If St. Louis fails to renew its license, only one abortion provider will be left.