Abortion services to expand in Missouri after judge issues injunction

Planned Parenthood public policy manager Porsha White. CREDIT Kira Lerner

"Relief should be prompt, given the needs of women seeking abortions and the need for available clinics to serve their needs", wrote Sachs, of the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City. The law was similar to one in Texas that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down last June, after it sharply reduced the number of abortion providers there.

U.S. District judge Howard Sachs in Kansas City ruled women in Missouri were guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling past year that struck down similar restrictions in Texas. That left the St. Louis clinic as Planned Parenthood's only abortion provider.

Spokespersons for Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri said that they will perform abortions at four more clinics as a result of the judge's decision.

Its Columbia center stopped offering the procedure — a nonsurgical type, induced with a pill — in 2015 after its only doctor performing medication-induced abortions lost needed privileges with University of Missouri Health Care.

Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said it was a "great victory".

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Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley told the Associated Press that he will appeal, saying in an email: "Missouri has an obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of women undergoing medical procedures in state licensed medical facilities".

Planned Parenthood officials in Missouri said in a joint statement that the ruling means more access soon. "This decision was wrong".

The state laws are at the center of an ongoing legal challenge brought by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri, who feel the Hellerstedt ruling could open the door for abortions to be performed statewide. Lawder says Planned Parenthood would not be able to offer abortions without the injunction from Sachs.

A new Missouri rule will strip state family planning funds from organizations that provide abortions, including hospitals.

"Especially in Springfield and Joplin, but to a lesser extent in Columbia and Kansas City, the ASC (surgery center) requirement imposes burdens that have closed or prevented development of clinics".

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