Missouri’s only abortion clinic will stay open at least a few more days after a judge on Friday granted a request by Planned Parenthood for a temporary restraining order, allowing the facility to keep operating until a hearing on Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood sued Missouri this week after state health officials said the license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis was in jeopardy, meaning the clinic could have closed at midnight unless the judge granted the request for a temporary restraining order.
“Today is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over,” Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said in a statement after Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer agreed to the organization’s request. Representatives for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services could not immediately be reached for comment.
Health officials had refused to renew the clinic’s license because, they said, they were unable to interview seven of its physicians over “potential deficient practices,” according to documents filed in a St. Louis court.
The legal battle in St. Louis comes a week after Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill banning abortion beginning in the eighth week of pregnancy, making Missouri one of nine U.S. states to pass anti-abortion legislation this year.
On Friday, Stelzer said the clinic’s license would remain in effect until a ruling is made on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction against the state. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday. Outside the clinic on Friday, a handful of anti-abortion protesters stood holding “Choose Life” signs.
Abortion is one of the most socially divisive issues in U.S. politics, with opponents often citing religious beliefs to call it immoral, while abortion-rights advocates say the bans amount to state control of women’s bodies.
Anti-abortion activists say they aim to prompt the newly installed conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade by enacting laws that are virtually assured of facing court challenges.
A series of prominent U.S. media companies said they will rethink working in Georgia, if a new state law takes effect, banning abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected by doctors. That standard effectively bans abortions at about six weeks into a pregnancy, before some women would even be aware they were pregnant. Those companies include AT&T Inc’s WarnerMedia, CBS Corp, Viacom Inc, Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal, AMC Networks Inc, Walt Disney Co and Netflix Inc. (VOA)
Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services rejected a license renewal Friday for a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, but the clinic can temporarily continue to provide abortions. The rejection was the latest development in a long legal battle over the state’s last remaining abortion clinic.
The health department told Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region that its license would be rejected, minutes before a court hearing for the organization was to begin.
Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer, who had previously granted Planned Parenthood a temporary injunction allowing the clinic to continue providing abortions when the health department refused to renew its license, ruled Friday that his injunction was to remain in effect until he presented both parties with a list of next steps.
Planned Parenthood advocates in Missouri alleged Friday that the health department “weaponized a regulatory process” as part of a broader campaign to end abortion access in the state.
A spokesperson for the health department told reporters the Planned Parenthood location had resolved only four of the 30 deficiencies the department had identified, prompting officials to deny the license renewal. The health department also cited the unwillingness of physicians at the location to sit for interviews with the health department.
Planned Parenthood asserts it cannot compel the physicians to testify, as they were not full-time staff.
If the Planned Parenthood clinic were to lose its license, Missouri would be the first state since 1974 not to have an abortion provider. That’s a year after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. In recent months, states across the country have enacted laws to restrict abortion access, with some seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide. (VOA)