Court Blocks State’s Egregious Actions that would have Left Missouri as the First State Since 1974 Without a Health Center that Provides Abortion
Court Allows Health Center to Continue Services for Now — Sets Another Court Date
St. Louis – Today, the Circuit Court of St. Louis stepped in to protect the last remaining health center in Missouri that provides abortion — for now. The judge today issued a temporary restraining order against the State of Missouri, allowing Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (RHS) — the last remaining health center in Missouri that provides abortion — to continue to provide abortion for the time being. The ruling means that abortion services will continue in the state for now. The judge also set another hearing on Tuesday, June 4.
Statement of Dr. Leana Wen, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Today is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over. We have seen just how vulnerable access to abortion care is here—and in the rest of the country. We are glad that the governor has been prevented from putting women’s health and lives in danger—for now—and call on him to stop this egregious politicalization of public health in an attempt to ban all safe, legal abortion care in the state.
“We want our patients to know that we will never abandon the women of Missouri. We will keep fighting these attempts to end access to health care, to ensure all people can get the care that they need—no matter what.”
Statement of Dr. Colleen McNicholas, OB-GYN, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region:
“This is a huge sigh of relief for the many patients who need access to safe, legal abortion in Missouri. The fight goes on. While temporary, we celebrate today, and tomorrow we go back to work to ensure access to abortion does not go dark at the last health center that provides abortion in Missouri. Planned Parenthood has served Missouri for more than 87 years and we aren’t going anywhere. While Gov. Parson abandoned our patients, we will not. Our doors are open today, our doors will be open tomorrow, and we will fight to make sure all patients continue to receive the care they need and deserve.”
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and RHS announced they expected the state health department to block services at the state’s last remaining health center that provides abortion by refusing to renew its license to provide abortion services — a move that would have left 1.1 million women of reproductive age in Missouri without a health center in their state that provided abortion.
RHS filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis on Tuesday asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the state’s egregious actions. Today’s ruling means that abortion services in Missouri are protected — for now.
It is not new for politicians in Missouri or elsewhere to use a combination of state laws and regulatory harassment to target abortion providers — in fact, Missouri already used similar targeting to block the only other health center in the state that provided abortions from continuing to do so in 2018. Last week, Gov. Parson signed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bills, which bans abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy and also adds more medically unnecessary abortion restrictions. Missouri’s long list of medically unnecessary restrictions are no longer just targeting clinics they are directly impacting patients and their right to evidence based healthcare free from harassment. Missouri’s demand that doctors perform invasive and medically unnecessary pelvic exams on patients is a clear indication that they have no regard for the wellbeing of their citizens. The medical literature is clear: restrictions including a 72-hour mandatory delay for patients accessing abortion that requires patients to make two trips to the health center, and demanding that abortion providers hold local hospital admitting privileges have no basis in science.
Already, 1 in 3 women of reproductive age lives in a state where abortion could be outlawed if Roe is overturned. That’s over 25 million people. While abortion bans impact everyone who can become pregnant, they hit people of color and those who are struggling to make ends meet the hardest — the people who already face barriers to accessing good health care. While those with wealth may be able to find a way around abortion bans, far too many people — especially those who already face racism, homophobia, and transphobia — will be left with no options at all.