Abortion provider Planned Parenthood announced a lawsuit Tuesday against the state of Missouri, following news that the state’s only abortion clinic could be shut down.
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) May 28, 2019
Just days after Missouri legislators passed a ban on abortions later than eight weeks of gestation, Planned Parenthood announced that the St. Louis clinic — the only abortion provider remaining in the entire state — would likely shut down.
The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services notified Planned Parenthood that there were several issues concerning the clinic that needed to be addressed before the state would renew the clinic’s license to operate, according to a report from CBS News.
On May 22, Planned Parenthood said it would address two of them: adjusting who at the clinic provided the state-mandated counseling and adding an additional pelvic exam for abortion patients.
The third issue, what the state called “deficient practices,” potentially involved physicians who were providing care at the clinic. The state requested interviews with all seven physicians who treated patients at the clinic, but five of the seven were residents who were not actually employed by Planned Parenthood and declined to be interviewed.
The Health Department responded in a letter, explaining that without the interviews, the investigation could not be completed — and without a completed investigation, the license could not be renewed.
Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen noted that, if the clinic closed, it would be the first time that any state had no access to abortion services. (RELATED: Does Protesting Planned Parenthood Make You A Racist?)
If Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis health center cannot provide abortion care, this will be the first time since 1974 that safe, legal abortion care will be inaccessible to people in an entire state. https://t.co/WVFzLjG0CW
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) May 28, 2019
And it wasn’t long before a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates began to weigh in on the topic.
Reproductive rights are not just protected by the Constitution of the United States but must be guaranteed in every state. This is a direct attack on women’s health.https://t.co/zDekzGXLib
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 28, 2019
For the first time since Roe v. Wade was decided, thousands of women and families in Missouri will be left without safe, accessible reproductive health care services of their choice. This is disgraceful and dangerous. https://t.co/nRlA6UJjhT
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 28, 2019
Leaving an entire state—and 1 million people—without a single abortion provider is the definition of an “undue burden” on access. That makes it unconstitutional.
This is an attack on Missourians’ civil rights, and it cannot be allowed to stand. https://t.co/eci0ZTWwe3
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) May 28, 2019
We cannot go back to the days when women in America didn’t have the right to control their own bodies. Access to a safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right. https://t.co/KKSuAGFlVO
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 28, 2019
Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the issue, saying, “We are at a fork in the road for reproductive rights in America.”
We are at a fork in the road for reproductive rights in America.
There has never been a more important moment to recommit to protecting access to a full range of health care—including safe and legal abortion—for all. https://t.co/ws7zrFD1Yo
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 28, 2019
If Planned Parenthood does not reach an agreement with the Missouri Health Department, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic will be forced to shut down as of May 31.