The closure of Missouri’s last operating abortion clinic continues to appear imminent, as Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) insisted that the state won’t renew Planned Parenthood’s operating license unless it meets certain conditions.
“Planned Parenthood has until Friday to comply with state law in order to receive its renewal license. No one is receiving special treatment,” said Parson at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood announced that it would have to shut down the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri on Friday unless it gets a new license.
If the clinic in St. Louis closes, Missouri would become the first state in the nation without an operating abortion clinic since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Parson said the state health department has concerns about the care women are receiving at the clinic ever since its inspection in mid-March.
On May 20, the agency notified Planned Parenthood of three issues that could affect its license renewal. The reproductive rights group agreed to address two of them: adding a pelvic exam and addressing who at the clinic provided state-mandated counseling, according to CBS News.
But the state health department said it also had to interview seven doctors who work at the clinic. Planned Parenthood said it could provide interviews with two, but the others weren’t employed by the organization and hadn’t consented to be interviewed.
“We believe that we are entitled to be able talk to those doctors, just like any other agencies when there are violations or deficiencies noted,” Parson said.
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Leana Wen responded to Parson Wednesday, saying his remarks were “simply not based on medicine, facts, or reality” and that the organization does “everything to ensure our patients get the best medical care available.”
She also hit back on his claim that Missouri’s laws were about women’s safety, rather than politics.
“For over a decade, the State of Missouri has enacted arbitrary regulation upon regulation that have no basis in medicine,” she said. “These include: forced 72-hour waiting period for patients; mandating hallways to be a certain width; and even requiring medically unnecessary, invasive pelvic exams. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, limiting access to care by imposing medically unnecessary regulations hurts women by causing delays and hindering the quality of care delivered.”
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood sued to keep operating in the state. Parson warned against any ruling in the group’s favor at this point, saying, “It would be reckless for any judge to grant a temporary restraining order ruling before the state has taken action on a license renewal. No judge should give special treatment to Planned Parenthood in this instance.”
Last week, Parson signed a law banning abortion at eight weeks into pregnancy, with exceptions only for medical emergencies.
This story has been updated with comment from Planned Parenthood.