Missouri denies license to U.S. state's sole abortion clinic

Current and former elected officials including St. Louis Alderman Megan Green former State Rep. Stacey Newman St. Louis County Councilwoman Lisa Clancy and St. Louis Alderman Christine Ingrassia left to right joined a rally outside Planned Parenthood

In May, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services initially refused to renew the license for the Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, which is the last abortion provider in the state.

In a separate case, on June 14, St. Louis circuit court Judge David Dowd ruled that Missouri's legislature can not cut funding from the Planned Parenthood facility, after the facility argued that it not only provided abortions, but other health care services, according to a local Fox News affiliate.

The state of Missouri allowed Planned Parenthood's practicing license to expire, opting to neither renew nor end contractual agreements and operation approval of the facility by the state.

The health department withheld the renewal in part because it insisted that doctors at the clinic needed to submit to questioning about their methods. "Let's be clear - we have always complied with the regulation, but we as doctors reject this new interpretation because it defies patient-centered care", Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OBGYN who works at the clinic, said in a statement released Wednesday.

If the state's efforts are successful, Missouri would become the only state in the USA without a legal abortion provider.

"We should all agree that, regardless of the number of Planned Parenthood facilities in Missouri, every step should be taken to ensure the protection, safety and well-being of women's health care", Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, said in a statement.

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The year 2019 has witnessed significant controversy at the state level over abortion regulations. Planned Parenthood sued the state and the case has been working through the court system.

Under the law, any person who performs an abortion after eight weeks - which is often before many women are aware they are pregnant - could be charged with a Class B felony punishable by five to 15 years in prison.

However, in Planned Parenthood's estimation, Williams is flat wrong on the medical necessity of a pelvic exam conducted days before a procedure.

"The Court does not believe that an "official action" can include non-action", Stelzer wrote in a June 10 ruling granting a preliminary injunction. Since then, the agency and the clinic have been in a legal back-and-forth moderated by a district judge, who has mandated the state make a final decision by Friday. Because of that relationship, the clinic argues it can not force the doctors to be interviewed.

The fate of the last Planned Parenthood facility in Missouri has been up in the air for the last several months. "We need to open our eyes that the politicians have gone well beyond their role in the state Legislature with laws - while those are very extreme and they're pursuing them in my state in a very extreme fashion - they won't even stop at that".

At one point, the facility chose to comply with Missouri's demands, but USA Today reports that "Planned Parenthood appeared to escalate its fight with Missouri on Thursday when it stopped complying with a state requirement that physicians perform two pelvic exams on patients getting surgical abortions". "They're politicizing the regulatory process".

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