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Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the last provider of abortion services in Missouri. It could lose its license this week.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1:55 p.m., June 24 with comments from an attending physician at the Planned Parenthood clinic  — A circuit court judge has allowed Planned Parenthood in St. Louis to continue providing abortions until late Friday afternoon.

A ruling Judge Michael Stelzer made Monday would allow Planned Parenthood to make its case for keeping its license to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, which resolves disputes between state regulators and private entities.

Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri M'Evie Mead addresses reporters outside the St. Louis Circuit courthouse on Friday. June 21, 2019
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:15 p.m., June 21 with comments from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and the state health department director — The only abortion provider in Missouri has lost its license, but the clinic’s future remains unclear after a court hearing Friday morning in St. Louis.

Citing patient safety concerns, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Friday declined to renew a St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to perform abortions. Officials said some abortions were not performed properly and failed.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer said the injunction he previously issued keeping the clinic open will remain in effect for now. It’s not known when he will make a final decision.

Current and former elected officials, including St. Louis Alderman Megan Green, former State Rep. Stacey Newman, St. Louis County Councilwoman Lisa Clancy and St. Louis Alderman Christine Ingrassia, left to right, joined a rally outside Planned Parenthood
File photo|Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the deadline nears for the state’s decision on whether to renew the license for Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic, doctors at Planned Parenthood have announced they have stopped following a state rule that, in effect, makes them conduct two pelvic exams before providing the procedure.

The St. Louis clinic had started conducting the exams several weeks ago as part of a corrective plan between the organization and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The plan was put in place after the agency found Planned Parenthood wasn’t in compliance with state rules, which include an initial pelvic exam as part of its 72-hour consent law.

A state court judge in St. Louis on Friday ordered Missouri to restore Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in that city.

Judge David L. Dowd ruled that the legislature’s fiscal 2019 appropriations bill for the Medicaid program violated the state constitution by barring payments to abortion providers and their affiliates.

He found the bill ran afoul of the constitution’s requirement that appropriations bills can’t refer to other laws when fixing their amount.

Dr. David Eisenberg, medical director of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, answers questions during a press conference Friday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Abortion rights advocates are concerned the legal dispute over the last existing abortion clinic in Missouri may have already hindered access to abortion.

The license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region has been in jeopardy for months as state officials delayed action on its application. To compel the state to act, Planned Parenthood took state officials to court.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer has kept the license in effect while the arguments play out in court. But abortion rights advocates say the legal process as well as Missouri’s increasingly stringent abortion regulations could discourage doctors from providing the procedure in the future.

Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the last provider of abortion services in Missouri. It could lose its license this week.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:45 p.m. June 10 with additional comments from Planned Parenthood  — Missouri will continue to have legal access to abortion.

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge on Monday granted Planned Parenthood a preliminary injunction that effectively keeps its license to operate a St. Louis abortion clinic open for at least 11 more days.

Judge Michael Stelzer ordered the state Department of Health and Senior Services to decide whether to renew Planned Parenthood’s annual license by June 21, when attorneys representing the organization and the state appear in court again.

The judge’s decision means Missouri’s only abortion provider will continue operating while he weighs Planned Parenthood’s objections to the way state health officials have handled the organization’s request for a new license.

Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the last provider of abortion services in Missouri. It could lose its license this week.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:58 p.m. June 7 with information from the College of American Pathologists —Missouri health officials say they are investigating “failed surgical abortions” at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic.

Department officials said Friday that some women who had received abortions at the clinic remained pregnant after the procedure, according to an analysis of fetal tissue.

The officials say they reported a lab that tests fetal tissue from abortions at the St. Louis clinic to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Federal officials then temporarily suspended the lab’s accreditation.

Juliana Hertel and Grace Hardison demonstrate against abortion restrictions during a Planned Parenthood rally in downtown St. Louis. May 30, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Planned Parenthood is awaiting St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer’s decision on whether the center is able to renew its abortion clinic license.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin will go behind the headlines with health reporter Sarah Fentem to discuss developments in the case this week.

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, spoke to reporters after a court hearing on Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Lawyers for Missouri’s only abortion provider told a St. Louis Circuit Court judge on Wednesday that it has been unable to renew the clinic’s annual license because state health officials have not followed proper procedures.

Planned Parenthood has asked Judge Michael Stelzer to issue a temporary injunction barring the state Department of Health and Senior Services from delaying or denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

Jamie Boyer, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, told the judge during a hearing that the department’s efforts to interview independent physicians who work at the clinic have been an obstacle.

Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri M'Evie Mead addresses reporters outside the St. Louis Circuit courthouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:30 p.m. June 4 with reaction from Planned Parenthood — A St. Louis Circuit Court judge has delayed until Wednesday a hearing that could determine whether Missouri’s sole abortion clinic remains open. Judge Michael Stelzer ruled Tuesday that current and former independent doctors at Planned Parenthood will not have to testify.

Lawyers for the state Department of Health and Senior Services had subpoenaed doctors, aiming to compel them to testify in court. That request pushed back a hearing on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction barring the state Department of Health and Senior Services from delaying or denying a renewal of the clinic’s license. The judge set that hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Planned Parenthood’s lawyers have asked Stelzer to bar the state Department of Health and Senior Services from delaying or denying a renewal of the clinic’s license.

The Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City is 10 minutes from downtown St. Louis and is one of the abortion clinics in Illinois that could see more patients if Missouri's last abortion clinic closes. June 3, 2019
Beth Hundsdorfer | St. Louis Public Radio

On the same day last week a Missouri judge issued an order keeping open the state’s only abortion clinic, the Illinois Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act, guaranteeing women have the right to reproductive health, including abortion.

Tuesday, a St. Louis Circuit Court judge will hear arguments about whether the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services may continue to deny a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

Women protest in downtown St. Louis on May 30, 2019, to influence Missouri Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer's decision on the fate of St. Louis' last abortion clinic.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A local reproductive rights activist says the loss of Missouri's last clinic that provides abortions would be dire for black women.

Pamela Merritt, co-founder of Reproaction and the emcee of the pro-Planned Parenthood rally held on Thursday in downtown St. Louis, said black women will be disportionately impacted if the reproductive health services clinic loses its license to perform abortions.

Abortion rights activists on Thursday gathered near the Gateway Arch to protest the potential closure of Missouri's only abortion provider. They marched to the Wainwright State Office Building and decried the state's efforts to limit access to abortion.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6 p.m., May 31 with comments from clinic officials and supporters — Missouri's only abortion provider will remain open.

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order that keeps the license of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic valid beyond midnight, when it expires.

Judge Michael Stelzer’s ruling keeps the clinic’s license in effect until he rules on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction that would bar the state Department of Health and Senior Services from denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday. 

Abortion rights activists on Thursday gathered near the Gateway Arch to protest the potential closure of Missouri's only abortion provider. They marched to the Wainwright State Office Building, where some activists went inside. May 30, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The battle over abortion rights in Missouri spilled from the courtroom into city streets on Thursday as hundreds of people gathered near the St. Louis Arch to demand state officials stop trying to limit access to abortion.

Carrying signs that read “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” and “Protect Safe, Legal Abortion,” they were there to protest the state’s efforts to limit access to abortion and the potential closing of the state’s only abortion provider.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and Planned Parenthood have been in a standoff over the clinic’s license, and today its future is in the hands of St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer.

Juliana Hertel and Grace Hardison demonstrate against abortion restrictions during a Planned Parenthood rally in downtown St. Louis. May 30, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has long had some of the strictest abortion restrictions in the U.S. Now questions about Planned Parenthood’s license in St. Louis could mean Missouri losing its only abortion clinic. Below, find FAQs and answers based on our reporting. 

Update, June 21: Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services has decided to deny the license for Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis abortion clinic, the only provider in the state.

A preliminary injunction is keeping the St. Louis clinic’s license in place until the judge makes a more permanent decision. As part of that injunction ruling, the judge said the state needed to make a decision to renew or reject the license before Friday. A status hearing was ongoing Friday morning.

Read more: Missouri Denies St. Louis Planned Parenthood Clinic License To Perform Abortions

Update, May 31: A St. Louis Circuit Court Judge has ruled to keep Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic open hours before its license expired. Judge Michael Stelzer granted Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order to prevent the Department of Health and Senior Services from denying its license renewal application.

Read moreJudge's Order Keeps Missouri’s Sole Abortion Clinic Open — For Now

Our original story continues below.

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge is expected to decide whether to stop Missouri from closing the only remaining abortion clinic in the state before its license expires Friday at midnight.

Planned Parenthood is asking the judge to prevent the Department of Health and Senior Services from denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

M'Evie Mead, director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Missouri, addresses reporters outside the St. Louis Circuit Courthouse on May 30, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6 p.m., May 30

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood on Thursday told a St. Louis Circuit Court judge that Missouri health officials have delayed renewing a license to the state’s sole abortion provider by continually asking for additional information.

In a hearing, Planned Parenthood’s lawyers asked Judge Michael Stelzer to issue a temporary restraining order barring the state Department of Health and Senior Services from denying to renew the license for its St. Louis clinic. That license expires at midnight Friday.

Judge Michael Stelzer did not make a decision on Thursday, but could do so by late Friday. If the judge does not rule, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region — Missouri’s only licensed abortion provider — would close.

Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the last provider of abortion services in Missouri. It could lose its license this week.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood will ask a St. Louis Circuit Court judge to block Missouri health officials from using an investigation into a patient’s complaint to close the state’s only licensed abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood went to court Wednesday to prevent the state Department of Health and Senior Services from denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. But Judge Michael Stelzer rescheduled the hearing for Thursday, a day before the clinic’s license expires.

In their request for a restraining order, the organization’s lawyers also asked Stelzer to bar state health officials from interviewing seven doctors at the St. Louis clinic.

What Closing Missouri's Last Abortion Clinic Will Mean For Neighboring States

May 28, 2019
Planned Parenthood supporters marched silently past the organization's Central West End clinic as anti-abortion activists prayed during a 2017 demonstration.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As the last abortion clinic in Missouri warned that it will have to stop providing the procedure as soon as Friday, abortion providers in surrounding states said they are anticipating an uptick of even more Missouri patients.

At Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois, just 10 minutes from downtown St. Louis, Deputy Director Alison Dreith said Tuesday her clinic was preparing for more patients as news about Missouri spread.

“We’re really scrambling today about the need for increased staff and how fast can we hire and train,” Dreith said.

Missouri is within days of losing its last remaining health center that provides abortions. Unless a court intervenes, it will become the first state in the nation without such a clinic.

Planned Parenthood officials say they are filing a lawsuit in state court Tuesday, asking for a restraining order to prevent its St. Louis clinic from being forced to stop offering the procedure after a state license expires Friday.

Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a Columbia, Missouri, resident with setting a fire at the Planned Parenthood clinic in that city that led to its closure for a week.

Wesley Brian Kaster, 42, was accused of one count of maliciously damaging, by means of fire or an explosive, a building owned by an organization that receives federal funding.

Missouri has one remaining abortion provider after a federal judge on Friday refused to block the state's law requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes was the latest development in a case that has bounced around the federal courts for more than two years, after Planned Parenthood challenged the requirement as medically unnecessary.

This story was updated at 5:39 p.m. to add comments from Planned Parenthood Great Plains. 

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever set a fire at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri, that has forced it to close.

The blaze was reported shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday. No one was in the building at the time, and it was extinguished by the clinic’s sprinkler system.

This story was updated at 9 a.m. Oct. 4 to add the comments of Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams. 

A federal judge has declined – at least for now — to block a Missouri abortion law, leaving the state with just one abortion provider.

The law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital or else face criminal prosecution. 

A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri regulation governing medication abortions, although she found that the restriction “has virtually no benefit.”

Ruling in a case brought by the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis, U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips said the plaintiffs had not shown that the regulation “is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 3, 2012 - Thirty-four members of the Missouri General Assembly's bipartisan Progressive Caucus have asked the national Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation "to reconsider their decision to cut cancer-screening funding to Planned Parenthood."

The group has signed letters sent to the foundation and to its chief executive, Nancy Brinker.

A volunteer with Coalition for Life St. Louis, an anti-abortion group, waves as a car exits the Planned Parenthood parking lot on Forest Park Avenue. Volunteers hand out anti-abortion pamphlets to passers-by.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It soon could be harder for opponents of Planned Parenthood to get their message to people going to the St. Louis Central West End clinic.

On a 15-13 vote, St. Louis Aldermen gave the measure, sponsored by Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, first-round approval on Friday. It sets up an 8-foot buffer zone around health care facilities.

A Jackson County judge on Monday declined to block a Missouri law requiring abortion physicians to meet with their patients three days before the procedure.

In rejecting a challenge to the law by Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Jackson County Circuit Judge S. Margene Burnett found that the requirement did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

Just two weeks before new regulations on Missouri abortion providers would take effect, the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates are challenging the provisions in state court.

The same day a federal appeals court overruled itself and voted to block two Missouri abortion restrictions, the state advised Missouri abortion providers that they will have to abide by a new restriction.

A memo dated Oct. 2 from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says the agency will file emergency rules on Oct. 24 establishing standards for “complication plans” for medication-induced abortions.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, discuss abortion regulations on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3 p.m. on Wednesday with information about Greitens signing the bill: JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Physicians will have to meet with women seeking abortions three days before the procedure and Missouri’s attorney general will have the ability to enforce abortion laws under the bill that Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law on Wednesday.

Greitens spokesman Parker Briden confirmed that the Republican governor signed Sen. Andrew Koenig's bill into law on Wednesday afternoon. Koenig's bill, which will go into effect in late October, passed on Tuesday by a 22-9 vote and came after a Democratic filibuster. Supporters say the legislation will make clinics safer, while critics contend it will make it harder for women to obtain abortions. The legislation may also complicate Planned Parenthood’s bid to expand throughout the state.

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