UPDATE: St. Louis abortion clinic denied license to remain open for now

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Missouri State Capitol

Missouri State Capitol (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

Missouri State Capitol (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

ST. LOUIS — Missouri has denied the license for Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, the last clinic providing abortion services in the state.

UPDATE: The clinic is remaining open. Judge Michael Stelzer’s injunction is still in place the clinic can continue operating. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it will remain open until Stelzer issues a ruling.

The Kansas City Star reported on Friday that the state Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the decision just before a hearing in St. Louis City Circuit Court. The newspaper said there isn’t an immediate impact but that could change depending on the outcome of the Friday morning hearing.

From the Kansas City Star:

DHSS had allowed the clinic’s license to lapse May 31 without weighing in on its renewal application. Planned Parenthood preemptively sued the week before its license expired and court orders have allowed its clinic to continue to provide abortions.

Up until Friday, DHSS withheld its decision on the application, saying it needed to first interview seven physicians that provided care at the clinic about the specific cases unearthed from a review of medical records during the clinic’s March annual inspection.

Two doctors, who are employed by Planned Parenthood, complied, while the remaining five, all of whom are contracted through teaching hospitals and medical schools, declined interviews. Since they are not employees of the clinic, Planned Parenthood has argued it cannot compel them to comply.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ordered DHSS to formally approve or reject the application by Friday. A request to reconsider — which Stelzer denied — included the clinic’s inspection records, which showed that DHSS was investigating four failed abortions.

Planned Parenthood submitted a fourth plan of correction to DHSS Tuesday in response to the statement of 30 deficiencies presented to the judge last week. In the plan, it announced it would defy a health department mandate to perform pelvic exams at least 72 hours prior to the abortion procedure, saying doing so was medically unnecessary and “inhumane.”

The formal denial by DHSS will allow the clinic to appeal the decision to the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC), which serves as an tribunal that resolves disputes between state agencies and individuals or businesses. In a previous order, Stelzer agreed with DHSS that the appropriate venue for the Planned Parenthood to challenge the state on licensing matters was in front an AHC commissioner.

(H/T Planned Parenthood Illinois Action)

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