A judge in Missouri issued a temporary order on Friday to ensure that the state's only abortion clinic could continue to provide the service, acting several hours before the license of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility expired.
Both parties will appear in court on Tuesday to continue the legal battle.
The Department of Health and Senior Services in Missouri had not renewed the clinic's license because it was concerned about & # 39; failed abortions & # 39 ;, had compromised patient safety and legal violations at the clinic. Agency officials also insisted on interviewing additional doctors at the clinic as part of an investigation.
Planned Parenthood has taken preventive action this week to prevent a possible gap in the coverage of abortion. St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer heard arguments on Thursday.
His verdict prevents Missouri from becoming the first state without an abortion clinic since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court that legalized the nationwide procedure.
A protest meeting about the recent restrictive abortion laws outside the Columbia City Hall in Missouri
Stelzer did not choose a party in the Friday afternoon order, instead of saying that an additional hearing was necessary.
& # 39; A (temporary restraining order) is not intended to pass on the merits of a controversy or to clean up anything, & # 39; he wrote.
He also said, however, that Planned Parenthood had met the legal standard, which shows that damage would occur without a temporary restraining order.
Planned Parenthood & # 39; has demonstrated that immediate and irreparable damage is the result if the license of the submitter is granted & wrote the judge.
& # 39; Today is a victory for women all over Missouri, but this struggle is by no means finished & # 39 ;, said President and CEO of Leandro Wen, Planned Parenthood.
& # 39; We have seen how vulnerable access to abortion care is here – and in the rest of the country & she added. & # 39; We are pleased that the governor has been prevented from endangering women's health and lives – for now – and calling on him to stop this blatant politicization of public health in an effort to secure all safe, legal abortion care. the state. & # 39;
The temporary stay is because restrictions on the procedure are becoming more severe now that Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, has signed a bill prohibiting abortion in eight weeks of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest.
The Department of Health and Senior Services in Missouri has expressed concern about, among other things, patient health and violations of state laws and regulations.
Planned Parenthood officials say that Missouri arms the licensing process & # 39 ;.
The health service said inspections in March revealed deficiencies. The agency cited & # 39; at least one incident that seriously compromised patient safety & # 39 ;.
It also quoted what it called & # 39; failed surgical abortions in which women remained pregnant & # 39; and an alleged failure to & # 39; informed consent & # 39; to obtain. The department has not explained the allegations.
Planned Parenthood lawyer Jamie Boyer told Stelzer that state concerns have been resolved, but the health department will not renew the license unless it can interview five contract doctors about seven cases of patient care highlighted by the inspection.
Boyer said that while both staff doctors were interviewed at the clinic, contract doctors refuse, partly out of concern, they will say something that could lead to criminal charges due to restrictive abortion laws in Missouri.
Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, a Republican, is shown here at a press conference in which he said it was "reckless" & # 39; would be if a judge took action to keep the only abortion clinic in the state open because of what he described as health and safety deficiencies at the St. Louis facility
Supporters of abortion rights March 30, 2019 in St. Louis. A judge on Thursday heard an hour of arguments about Planned Parenthood's request to issue a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the state from revoking the license for Missouri's only abortion clinic at midnight on Friday
& # 39; Planned parenthood, with the exception of the interviews, has turned back & # 39; to work with the state, Boyer said.
Assistant Attorney General John Sauer said the request to interview the doctors is reasonable.
& # 39; The facility has the ability to say: & # 39; You must work together & # 39;, & # 39; said Sauer.
The hearing happened as the abortion rights defenders rally elsewhere in downtown St. Louis on Thursday.
The closest clinics that perform abortions are in a suburb of Kansas City and in Granite City. The Kansas Clinic is approximately 300 km from St. Louis.
Missouri is half a dozen states that have withstood far-reaching anti-abortion measures in recent months.
Missouri already had some of the most restrictive abortion regulations in the nation, including the requirement that physicians who perform abortions have partnerships with nearby hospitals.
A total of 2,910 abortions took place in Missouri in 2018, according to preliminary data from the National Health Service. This includes 433 abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy and 267 after six weeks or earlier.
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