Planned Parenthood clinics in SW Missouri will offer abortions

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) - Planned Parenthood says a federal judge’s ruling will let its clinics in Springfield and Joplin help women who want medicine-produced abortions. A spokesman said he doesn’t know when the two clinics will start offering that option to patients at their clinics.

A federal judge in Kansas City on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction that blocks Missouri from enforcing its abortion-restricting rules. U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said he’s bound by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2016 that struck down similar rules in Texas.

Planned Parenthood affiliates with health centers in Missouri sought the preliminary injunction. They sued over Missouri's restrictions last November.

Sachs wrote that his ruling invalidates Missouri's requirements that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that clinics meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. The U.S. Supreme Court last June threw out similar Texas rules that sharply reduced the number of abortion clinics there.

Jesse Lawder, vice president for communications for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said the timeline isn’t set for the clinics in Springfield, Joplin, Kansas City and Columbia to offer medication abortions. He said a doctor has been picked for the clinics in southwest Missouri but some final steps remain. Lawder says Planned Parenthood would not be able to offer abortions without the injunction from Sachs.

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Springfield has never offered abortions. It’s instead provided abortion referral, birth control, general health care, HIV testing, men’s health care, morning-after pills (emergency contraception), pregnancy testing and services, STD testing treatment and vaccines, and women’s health care.

No other medical facility in Springfield has openly offered abortions since Springfield Healthcare Center closed in 2005.

Angie Postal, the Director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of the Saint Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, says they will start by offering non-surgical abortions.

She said, “In both Springfield and Joplin, it is our intent to begin providing medication abortions. We do have some work yet to do to make that happen. But we would like to make these services available to members of the community.”

Postal says they're thrilled to end Missouri's "one-provider" status. Right now, the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis is the only site in Missouri that offers abortions.

“This is the affirmation that we’ve been waiting for. The judge made it really clear that medically unnecessary restrictions and other laws that have been thought up by extremists in Jefferson City are only designed to prevent Missourians from accessing legal healthcare,” said Postal.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.