With just hours remaining before its license was set to expire, Missouri’s last abortion clinic received more time on Thursday from a judge to get its license renewed.
The clinic, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, needed to renew its license before it expired on June 1. However, a state audit of the clinic necessary for renewal revealed what Missouri Governor Mike Parson described as “a number of serious health concerns.”
Governor Parson and spokesmen have stated that problems the audit revealed include failure to follow Missouri medical regulations and at least three botched surgical abortions, including one that ended in the woman being sent to a nearby hospital for surgery. While the clinic started to work out a correction plan with the state, the two parties deadlocked over the state wanting to interview some of the physicians that work at the clinic.
“We want to know what took place,” explained Governor Parson. “I think the important thing here is to find out the facts. What really is going on in there? What happened?”
Two physicians were willing to be interviewed, but the clinic would not agree to mandating the interviews. “They refused to discuss the scope of the interview,” commented Helene Krasnoff, head of litigation at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “[W]hen asked about whether or not it could lead to criminal referrals they have said, basically, that’s not off the table.”
Once it was clear that the clinic could shut down before it worked things out with the state, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in an effort to slow down the process. St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ruled in favor of the abortion clinic, issuing a temporary restraining order that prohibits Missouri from allowing the license to expire. He argued that there would be “immediate and irreparable injury” if the license was allowed to lapse.
A Tuesday hearing has been set to further discuss the case. While the future of Missouri’s last abortion clinic remains uncertain, Governor Parson believes that officials will “soon have the opportunity for a prompt legal review of our state health regulators’ serious health and safety concerns.”
Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0