Reproductive rights | St. Louis Public Radio

Reproductive rights

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.

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.

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, 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.

Kadie Tannehill and Mary Kogut joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the restrictions placed on abortion in Missouri and the impact some of those restrictions have on St. Louisans.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Even after the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade legalized abortion at a federal level in 1973, states have since reserved the right to place regulations and restriction on the process — and Missouri has several such rules.

Joann Shew, her granddaughter Izzy Shew and daughter-in-law Jessica Shew pose as they wait for the bus for Washington, D.C. on January 21st.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 150 St. Louisans traveled and slept on charter buses to join the Women’s March on Washington over the weekend.

For many, the trip was about reinvigorating family ties as well as rallying for social justice.

Green, Ingrassia and Alderman Sam Moore, D-4th Ward, listen as the Board of Aldermen's Tuesday session continues.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday to reflect conversations between the sponsor and city attorneys. — Two St. Louis aldermen, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, have launched an effort to make the city a sanctuary for reproductive rights.

“We are a board of people who are very aware of the challenges for women that are being brought forth at both the state and national level. And so it’s up to us at the local level to really ensure that women’s rights are protected," said Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward.

Mary Kogut
Provided by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri

The region’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, which operates Missouri’s only abortion clinic, has announced a new chief executive to replace long-time president Paula Gianino, who is retiring.

Mary Kogut, currently vice president of patient services, will take over on Jan. 8 as the new president and CEO for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

Kogut has been with the agency for 34 years. She was chosen after a year-long search, said Shanti Parikh, the agency’s board chairman.