A state judge ruled Monday that the last abortion clinic in the state of Missouri can remain open for now, according to Politico. The judge blocked state officials attempts to close the clinic over supposed licensing problems.
If the clinic were to close, Missouri would be the first state without any abortion clinics since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide.
State officials claimed that the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis was violating health statutes, and refused to renew their license. In one incident, officials said, patient health “was gravely compromised.” They also accused the clinic of failing to successfully perform surgical abortions or obtain “informed consent” from patients. The state demanded interviews with doctors who worked at the clinic, which Planned Parenthood refused.
Planned Parenthood says that the state is using this investigation as a politically motivated excuse to close down the state’s last abortion clinic. This isn’t hard to believe, considering that the state recently passed a law banning almost all abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. Missouri’s law follows in the wake of similar Draconian bans in Alabama, Georgia, and other states.
The clinic’s license was scheduled to expire on May 31st, and since the state refused to renew it, that would have meant closing the clinic. Thanks to this ruling, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood will remain open for now.
“Today’s ruling gives doctors like me the ability to wake up tomorrow and continue providing safe, legal abortion in the last health center in the state that provides abortion care,” Colleen McNicholas, an abortion doctor at the clinic, said in a statement. “For patients, that means for now, they can continue to make decisions about their bodies, lives and future in their home state.”
There are currently six states with only one abortion clinic: North and South Dakota, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri. Mississippi is working on its own abortion ban which could theoretically lead to that clinic’s closure.
The judge wrote in the injunction that the state must make a decision on the clinic’s license before June 21st.
“Today’s decision is a clear victory for our patients—and for people across Missouri—but the threat to safe, legal abortion in the state of Missouri and beyond is far from over,” Leana Wen, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
“We are in a state of emergency for women’s health in America,” she added. “In Missouri, and across the country, Planned Parenthood will do whatever it takes to combat the extreme, dangerous, and unconstitutional efforts by politicians to ban access to health care including safe, legal abortion. We will never stop fighting for our patients.”