Reproductive Health Services | St. Louis Public Radio

Reproductive Health Services

New Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic In Fairview Heights Was Built In Secret

Oct 2, 2019
Planned Parenthood announced a new mega center aimed to increase abortion access in Southern Illinois. It will open later this month. Oct. 2, 2019
Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is taking a step to increase access to abortions in the metro-east and the region with a new state-of-the-art center in Fairview Heights.

Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region will expand abortion services in the new facility, providing both surgical and medication abortions. It is expected to begin seeing patients in late October.

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.

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.

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
File photo I 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
File photo | 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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 4, 2013 - Paula Gianino, who has been the regional head of Planned Parenthood for almost a quarter of a century, plans to step down in a year, according to an announcement late Wednesday by the organization’s board.

Gianino’s retirement in January 2015 would mark her 25th anniversary of the medical organization, now called Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 5, 2011 - Judy Widdicombe, an obstetrical nurse who helped guide women to safe abortions before the procedure was legal and who opened the first abortion clinic in Missouri after Roe v. Wade made it the law of the land, died Thursday, (Nov. 3) at Gambrill Gardens Retirement Community. She was 73.