Missouri governor threatens state's only abortion provider, says it broke laws

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) on Wednesday said that the state’s sole abortion provider will be unable to perform abortions after Friday if it doesn’t comply with an ongoing investigation into potential violations of state law. 

Parson said the Planned Parenthood clinic is suspected of breaking several state laws and regulations, including one that requires patients receive pelvic exams 72 hours before getting abortions. 

Planned Parenthood’s license to perform abortions expires Friday, and Parson said the state will not renew it unless the clinic makes five of its doctors available for interviews and resolves the issues. 

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“In this instance, if you break the law, there are serious consequences,” Parson said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. 

“If you don’t provide a standard of care that ensures the safety of women, you shouldn’t be allowed to operate. It’s that simple.” 

Planned Parenthood, which says the investigation is politically motivated, filed a lawsuit against the state Tuesday. 

A hearing that was scheduled to take place Wednesday has been postponed.

Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said Wednesday that the state is weaponizing abortion regulations that have no impact on patient health. 

“All of these regulations have only one purpose, which is to shut down the ability of health centers to provide safe, legal abortions, which is not going to stop abortion, but it will stop safe, legal abortions,” Wen said in an appearance on CBS. 

Parson said Wednesday the state found “numerous violations of state laws and regulations” after conducting an annual inspection in March. 

Parson said there is also “significant medical evidence” showing three surgical abortions at the clinic were unsuccessful, and the women later found out they were still pregnant. 

The state requested interviews with seven doctors who work at Planned Parenthood, but only two were made available. 

Planned Parenthood says the other five are not considered employees of the organization and have not consented to interviews.

But the state will not renew the license without finishing its interviews, Parson said. 

“If they meet the demands, and if they correct the deficiencies, they’ll be able to obtain a license,” Parson said. 

If the clinic loses its license to perform abortions, it would become the only state in the U.S. without an abortion clinic. It would still be able to offer other health care services.

In its lawsuit filed Tuesday, Planned Parenthood argues that it is illegal for the state to allow the clinic’s license to expire and to make its renewal conditional upon receiving interviews with doctors. 

But Parson said no judge should give “special treatment” to Planned Parenthood in this case. 

“It would be reckless for any judge to grant a temporary restraining order ruling before the state has taken action on a license renewal,” he said.

Several Democrats running for president responded Tuesday to the news that the clinic could stop performing abortions. 

“Leaving an entire state—and 1 million people—without a single abortion provider is the definition of an ‘undue burden’ on access,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday. 

“This is an attack on Missourians’ civil rights, and it cannot be allowed to stand.” 

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