Missouri will become the first state in the country without a clinic that performs abortions if a court does not intervene to keep a St. Louis clinic from closing this week, NPR reports.
Planned Parenthood officials said they filed a lawsuit in state court seeking a restraining order to keep the clinic open after its state license expires on Friday. The clinic has been unable to reach a deal with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which is now pushing to require the clinic to have several doctors submit to questioning as a condition of renewing their license.
Planned Parenthood officials have opposed the questioning, arguing that it could be used to push criminal proceedings against doctors.
"This means that more than 1.1 million women of reproductive age in Missouri will live in a state where they cannot receive the health care they need," Planned Parenthood President, Dr. Leana Wen, said in a statement to NPR. "This is a world we haven't seen in nearly half a century."
Wen called the demand to question doctors “harassment” that was intended to “intimidate” doctors that perform abortions.
Missouri has cracked down on abortion:
The news comes just days after Republican Governor Mike Parson signed a law that would criminalize abortion after just eight weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.
Doctors would face prison time for performing abortions under the law.
The law is being challenged in court. Federal judges have already blocked similar laws in Mississippi and Kentucky.
“But even without banning the procedure, restrictive health regulations can force clinics to stop offering abortions or close altogether,” NPR reports. “A Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Mo., stopped performing the procedure in October 2018, after it was unable to fulfill a state requirement that doctors performing the procedure have admitting privileges at a hospital within about 15 minutes of the clinic. Planned Parenthood officials say there are some hospitals in Missouri that will perform abortions under rare circumstances, such as a medical emergency.”
6 states have just 1 remaining abortion clinic:
Missouri is one of six states where abortion restrictions have left just one remaining clinic that performs the procedure. If the St. Louis clinic is forced to close, women would have to travel hundreds of miles to Illinois or Kansas to get an abortion.
"This is a tragedy for Missouri women and doctors. And it's a disturbing preview of what anti-choice politicians are trying to implement across the country," Wen told NPR.
Dr. Sarah Horvath, a fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told NPR that these policies "harm the patient-physician relationship and erode patient trust."
Abortion is already "highly over-regulated due to stigma and politics,” she said. “Doctors should be able to provide health care without fearing interrogation."