Several states have recently pushed forward staunch laws intended to limit abortion access within their borders. But, Planned Parenthood says that that Missouri's last abortion clinic may close as the result of a bureaucratic issue. In a press release, the organization said that they may have to stop providing abortions in Missouri in as little as 72 hours, if the state refuses to renew the clinic's license.
"This is not a drill," Leana Wen, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says in a statement. "This is not a warning. This is a real public health crisis. This week, Missouri would be the first state in the country to go dark — without a health center that provides safe, legal abortion care. More than a million women of reproductive age in Missouri will no longer have access to a health center in the state they live in that provides abortion care."
If the clinic does lose its license to perform abortions, Missouri would become the first state to not to provide access to the procedure since the Roe v Wade decision was handed down, CBS News reports. In a press release, Planned Parenthood said that it plans to sue in order to continue providing abortion care in Missouri.
Bureaucratic issues appear to be at the heart of the problem. CBS News reports that on May 20, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) flagged three potential problems that could stand in the way between Planned Parenthood and its license renewal, which is scheduled to take place at the end of the month. While Planned Parenthood addressed the first two problems within days, according to CBS News, the third has become an issue.
Specifically, Missouri's DHSS told Planned Parenthood that it needed to interview seven physicians who work at the clinic, in order to investigate "deficient practices," CBS News reports. But, Planned Parenthood said that it could only provide interviews with two physicians. The other five, per CBS News, aren't actual Planned Parenthood employees, even though they provide care at the clinic.
"Just like the Trump administration and the state politicians they embolden, Missouri Governor Parson’s inspections process has become just another vehicle to intimidate doctors like me and to push abortion care out of reach for patients," Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN at Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said in a statement. "None of this has one bit to do with patient health or safety, but rather, banning abortion. State officials continue moving the goalpost on abortion providers until we can no longer provide care."
Although it wasn't clear on Tuesday how the licensing situation would unfold by the end of the week, Planned Parenthood appeared stalwart in its commitment to fighting to protect access to abortion care in the state.
"We are 100 percent committed to the best care that we can provide for patients," Colleen McNicholas, a Planned Parenthood physician in Missouri, told CBS News. "So certainly if there is an issue with the care we're providing we want to know about it. We want to be able to address that. But we can't do that when we're being attacked."