Abortion-Missouri

M’Evie Mead, director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Missouri, speaks to the press on Friday, June 21, 2019, outside the Civil Courts building in St. Louis. Missouri’s health department said on Friday that it won’t renew the abortion license for the state’s lone clinic, but the St. Louis Planned Parenthood affiliate will be allowed to temporarily perform the procedure under a court order.

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s only abortion clinic lost its license to perform the procedure on Friday, though it remains open at least temporarily under a judge’s order.

The state health department notified the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis that its abortion license will not be renewed. A letter from the state cited “serious and extensive” deficiencies.

The state’s decision came at the deadline set by St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer. During a brief hearing, Stelzer said a preliminary injunction he previously issued would remain in place, meaning the clinic can continue to perform abortions at least until he issues a final ruling outlining the next steps. He offered no timetable for that ruling.

M’Evie Mead, director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, stressed after the hearing that the bottom line is that the clinic remains open.

“You can still come to Planned Parenthood today for all of your reproductive health care, and that is a good day for women,” Mead said.

The fight between the Republican-led Missouri state government and Planned Parenthood has raged since the state health department allowed the clinic’s license to lapse effective June 1. Stelzer ruled earlier this month that the state needed to be more definitive and set the Friday deadline to either approve or deny the license.

The fate of the clinic has drawn national attention because Missouri would become the first state since 1974, the year after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, without a functioning abortion clinic if it closes. The battle also comes as abortion rights supporters raise concerns that conservative-led states are attempting to end abortion through tough new laws and tighter regulation.

The state has said concerns about the clinic arose from inspections in March. Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said at a news conference in Jefferson City that Planned Parenthood corrected just four out of 30 cited deficiencies.

Among the problems health department investigators have cited were three “failed abortions” requiring additional surgeries and another that led to life-threatening complications for the mother.