Missouri Set to Become First State Without Abortion Clinic Since 1973

The battle over women’s health rights in Missouri will likely take a hard hit this week.

The last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri says it expects to be shut down this week — basically ending legal abortion in the state, according to a statement released Tuesday by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood said Missouri’s health department has refused to renew its annual license to provide abortions.

The state health department has until Friday to renew the license though it’s very unlikely that it will. That decision will make Missouri the first state without an abortion clinic since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit for a restraining order against the state in order to restore the license and avoid service disruption. A circuit court judge will hear arguments on Wednesday.

Planned Parenthood will still be able to offer other health services.

“This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is a real public health crisis,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told CBS News.

Missouri has been slowly losing its abortion clinics as the state has tried to add additional, regulations, such as requiring an additional pelvic exam, even for women who are having medical abortions. The clinics have been refusing to do the additional pelvic exams for non-surgical abortions.

“When I say an unnecessary pelvic exam what I mean is that the state is forcing me to put my fingers in somebody’s vagina when it is totally medically irrelevant,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, a Planned Parenthood physician in St. Louis. “That is really bordering on harassment… I am really proud of our clinicians for taking a stand and saying you know we just won’t do that to patients.”

Just in 2019, six states have passed laws banning basically all abortions, including Missouri. Although the laws have not been enacted yet anywhere, Missouri has already ended abortion healthcare for women through regulations, not through law.