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Missouri could be first state in U.S. without an abortion clinic

Posted at 8:49 AM, May 30, 2019

ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Planned Parenthood earlier this week sued the state of Missouri for threatening to pull its license to operate and conduct abortion procedures.

If the clinic in St. Louis closes, Missouri would become the first state in the nation without an abortion clinic.

“This is not a drill. This is not a warning,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a news release. “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.”

Planned Parenthood said the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is refusing to renew the clinic’s license, claiming it is non-compliant.

Outside of the clinic Tuesday, pro-life supporters distributed information, much like any other day. But inside the clinic, Planned Parenthood officials were gearing up for another legal fight.

"Always moving the goalpost on us, always reinterpreting certain regulations,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas with Planned Parenthood.

McNicholas is the only doctor in Missouri who performs abortion procedures.

“One in four women will have an abortion in their life. That is a lot of people,” McNicholas said. “It is an incredibly common and safe procedure and one that in just a few minutes allows me to help people get to a better place.”

On Friday, Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed an eight-week abortion ban into law. The ban does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

"We are going to sign the bill as is, I’ve answered that a couple of times,” Parson said in a news conference last week. “I believe in the pro-life side of the issue, and I am going to sign the bill.”

Parson on Wednesday doubled down on the state's threat not to renew the clinic's license.

McNicholas said that if the clinic’s license is not renewed, it would create an unsafe environment for women.

"People of color, people of low income, rural women, those are the people that will be affected most,” McNicholas said.

Also on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said it would try to obtain 100,000 Missouri signatures to place the abortion ban issue on the ballot in 2020.