The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reissued a license for the state’s only remaining abortion clinic on Thursday, capping off a year-long legal battle that underscored the narrowing options available for women who sought to obtain abortions in some states.
The clinic underwent months in legal limbo as the state defended its decision not to reissue the clinic’s license last June. At the end of May, a state administrator decided that the health department was wrong to not reissue the license.
Missouri’s health department director, Randall Williams, accused Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis Reproductive Health Services (PPSLR) office of carrying out inadequate medical services resulting in two “failed abortions,” though they did not result in any reported complications.
Missouri Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi appeared to agree with Planned Parenthood’s argument that the state “cherry-picked” a handful of difficult cases out of thousands of otherwise successful abortions.
“In over 4,000 abortions provided since 2018, the Department has only identified two causes to deny its license,” Dandamudi wrote.
After reviewing the cases, the Administrative Hearing Commission said it could not find evidence of safe practice negligence.
That decision allowed the clinic to remain open through May 21. Thursday’s renewal occurred after another health department inspection of the clinic, which is located in St. Louis.
Majorie Danenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, decried the decision in May, arguing at the time that the St. Louis clinic posed a threat to women and children.
“Unborn children and their mothers face dire health risks — especially during a pandemic — so long as the St. Louis Planned Parenthood is permitted to remain open,” she said. “This particular facility’s track record shows an appalling pattern of botched abortions and other violations that prove they are incapable of policing themselves.”
Anti-abortion advocates like Danenfelser have decried the clinic as one of the worst in the nation. Checkmyclinic.org, an anti-abortion group that tracks health violations at clinics, has claimed the clinic saw a “laundry list” of violations.
The Supreme Court is expected to release a decision on the constitutionality of Louisiana’s law regulating certain aspects of abortion clinics — requiring, for example, that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Pro-choice advocates worry that decision could make Missouri’s situation more common, as it could allow states to effectively force clinic closures around the nation.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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