Great News: Missouri may soon be down to one abortion clinic

By Dave Andrusko

ppnote6Having ceased providing abortions as of Monday, Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Columbia, Missouri, is warning it is “likely to pursue legal action” if a way is not found to meet the state’s requirement that its abortionists have admitting privilege at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortions are taking place.

If the clinic does not resume performing chemical abortions, it will mean that Missouri has one abortion clinic–in St. Louis–a clinic which performs both surgical and chemical abortions.

Since last August, the Columbia clinic has performed 20-25 chemical abortion two days a week, according to Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid Missouri.

The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear a challenge to a Texas law, part of which includes that abortionists have admitting privileges.

The situation in Missouri is, in some ways, similar to other states that have admitting privilege requirements but in other ways is much more complicated.

The Columbia clinic was able to meet state law because it enjoyed “refer and follow” privileges with University of Missouri Health Care. Under such an arrangement, the abortionist could refer a patient to the hospital’s doctors for follow up care, typically in an emergency.

All that changed last September, according to Rudi Keller of the Columbia Tribune, when the Center for Medical Progress began publicizing its undercover videos featuring high-ranking Planned Parenthood officials:

A legislative investigation into the disposition of fetal tissue in Missouri also dug into the new license and put a spotlight on the relationship between the university and Planned Parenthood. Former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin initiated reviews that brought the cancellation of contracts for students to do clinical work and the decision to no longer offer “refer and follow” privileges.

Technically, the clinic will not lose its license to perform chemical abortions until next Tuesday, December 1. McQuade told reporters that supporters “plan to hold a vigil Nov. 30 and then march to a University of Missouri administration building.” According to the AP, McQuade

said they’re hoping to pressure interim Chancellor Hank Foley into canceling or delaying the end of the “refer and follow” privileges. The university and medical board didn’t respond to phone or email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

An extension through the end of February would provide enough time for the clinic’s abortion provider to apply for other privileges or for Planned Parenthood to hire another physician with admitting privileges, McQuade said.

“We are likely to pursue legal action if we don’t have a physician that meets the privileging requirements of (state law),” McQuade told the Kansas City Star, adding “that it can be difficult to find a physician willing to perform abortions in a ‘politically hostile environment.’”

Planned Parenthood “first opened a clinic in Columbia in 1970 and began offering abortions locally in 1974,” Keller explained. “The clinic stopped offering abortions in 2012 after the staff doctor moved away. The clinic’s abortion license was renewed amid a national controversy over videos produced by abortion opponents who accused Planned Parenthood of commercially trading fetal tissue.”

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