In the latest in a series of dramatic developments affecting the fate of Missouri's last remaining abortion clinic, the Planned Parenthood branch has been allowed to continue providing abortions after receiving a "motion to stay" from a state administrative commissioner on Friday afternoon. This means the clinic can operate despite the state declining to renew its license last week.
The clinic had been allowed to continue providing abortions by a judge-ordered injunction that was meant to expire on Friday at 5 p.m., making this under-the-wire decision the only thing keeping the state from becoming the first without a legal abortion provider since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
"We are relieved to have this last-minute reprieve, which means patients can continue accessing safe, legal abortion at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis for the time being," Dr. Colleen McNicholas, OB-GYN at the clinic, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "This has been a week-to-week fight for our patients and every Missourian who needs access to abortion care. There are two things that remain unchanged in Missouri: the uncertainty our patients face, and our will to continue fighting for their right to access safe, legal abortion."
Last month, Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed a measure into law banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, which is meant to go into effect by the end of August. Shortly after that, Missouri Health Department officials moved to stop the clinic from offering abortions, citing safety concerns.
"Patients should never have to worry that they may lose access to healthcare tomorrow because of a politically driven campaign to end abortion access," said McNicholas. "Yet, here we are, facing this reality week after week because of Gov. Parson’s agenda to ban abortion. It is unjust and cruel, and as the court and now the Administrative Commission Hearing recognize, unlawful. Planned Parenthood will continue responding to these political attacks on reproductive rights and healthcare with unrelenting vigor. Because abortion is healthcare and every person deserves the right and freedom to decide when and whether to be pregnant — no matter what."