The only clinic that performs abortions in Missouri reported today that it will surely have to cancel that service this week because the state government refuses to renew its license, something that would make that Midwestern state the only one in the country where there is no access to this medical benefit.
Planned Parenthood, which operates the clinic based in Saint Louis, has sued the state of Missouri to try to prevent the center from aborting from this Friday, when its license expires.
“This week, Missouri is going to be the first state in the country to go into darkness, without a health center that provides legal and safe abortion care. Over one million women of reproductive age in Missouri will no longer have access to health center that provides abortion services in the state where they live” Planned Parenthood director Leana Wen warned in a telephone press conference.
The gynecologist at the Saint Louis clinic, Colleen McNicholas, said in the same call that “this is harassment, it is an attempt to intimidate doctors at the highest level of the Government”.
According to this doctor, the Missouri Department of Health has decided not to renew the clinic’s license after undertaking “an investigation that seems to have no basis” on possible “deficiencies” in the center’s work.
On May 20th, the Missouri Department of Health notified Planned Parenthood three issues that could influence in the renewal of their license, according to documents accessed by CBS News.
Two days later, the network of reproductive health clinics ensured that it would address two of these issues: “Adjusting” the person from the clinic that provides legal advice, something the state requires, and adding an additional pelvic exam to patients who come to abort.
Planned Parenthood warned that the third point was beyond their control, since, according to this organization, the Health Department had announced that it was investigating “poor practices” and needed to interview seven doctors who work in the clinic.
The group said it could provide interviews with two of its employees, since the rest were not hired by Planned Parenthood and did not want to be questioned.
Last Friday, the governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, enacted an abortion law that prohibits the termination of pregnancy after the eighth week of pregnancy, adding to other states with similar laws.
“With the signing of this law, today we send a firm signal to the nation that in Missouri we defend life, protect the health of women and advocate for the unborn,” the governor said in a statement on the occasion of the signing of the law.
“All life has value and deserves protection,” he added.
Alabama also recently enacted an abortion law that does not provide for exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest, and threatens life imprisonment for doctors who practice abortions.
In the case of Missouri, the law prohibits abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy, once the fetus’ heartbeat is detected, although by then many women know that they are.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood reported today that “it is not a new practice for politicians in Missouri or other states to use a combination of state laws and regulatory harassment to target abortion providers.”
The organization recalled in the note that Missouri requires doctors to perform practices to patients as “invasive and unnecessary pelvic exams” and impose dozens of unnecessary restrictions that make it almost impossible to access abortion.
“This is the world that the Trump Administration and Republican public officials across the country have been promoting – a world where abortion care is illegal and inaccessible in this country,” Wen said in the statement.