Reproductive rights | St. Louis Public Radio

Reproductive rights

Planned Parenthood supporters walked onto the Eads Bridge to drop banners with a message to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. July 1 with "St. Louis on the Air" audio — Access to abortion in Missouri will continue as a state commission prepares to consider a licensing dispute over a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in St. Louis.

On Friday, a state administrative hearing commissioner extended the organization’s license until the Administrative Hearing Commission decides how to resolve Planned Parenthood’s complaint against the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The commission set a hearing for Aug. 1.

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.

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
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.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 26, 2012 - With fewer than two weeks to go before Election Day, Ebony Williams of Bellefontaine Neighbors says she is still on the fence about her vote for president.

Williams, 31, who is studying social work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said she voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but "it’s not a given” that the president will get her vote on Nov. 6. Her overriding concern is the economy and ensuring a stable future for her two children, ages 5 and 6.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 22, 2012 - WASHINGTON — Is it “Mad Men” versus Angry Women? Religious liberty versus secular freedom? Or “rights of conscience” versus rights of contraception? 

No matter how you view the hot debate over the Obama administration’s new rule on contraceptives coverage — and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s “Rights of Conscience” amendment that would block it — many hear echoes of the “culture wars” of previous decades over issues like birth control.