Missouri’s last abortion clinic defies ‘dehumanizing law’

Abortion may soon be illegal in Missouri
Planned Parenthood of St. Louis. Screen capture by CBS News via YouTube video

The future of Missouri’s only abortion clinic rests in the hands of a circuit court justice after losing its license last week.

Circuit court judge Michael Stelzner says the injunction he issued to keep the Planned Parenthood of St. Louis clinic open will remain in effect for the time being, and it’s not known when he will make his final decision, The Saint Louis American reports.

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The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services declined to renew the clinic’s license, citing safety concerns. Officials say some abortions were improperly performed and failed.

Doctors at the clinic are fighting back and say they refuse to comply with state restrictions and guidelines, which they consider “unethical,” harmful, and not medically necessary, writes Julia Conley, for Common Dreams. Clinic doctors say they will no longer perform pelvic exams on patients receiving abortion care 72 hours before the procedure. Pelvic exams are already performed on the day of the abortion but the additional exam was mandated last month by the state’s health department.

And the clinic’s medical director, Dr. David Eisenberg said he’d determined these exams were harmful to his patients.

“[Patients] are being victimized by a state regulatory process that has gone awry. It is not making him healthier, it is not making them safer, it is only victimizing them,” he told CBS News. “Over the last few weeks, I have evidence to say that 100 percent of the patients who I’ve taken care of who’ve undergone this inappropriate, medically unnecessary, unethical pelvic exam have been harmed by that.”

Doing that extraneous pelvic exam is just another form of assault, he added.

Additionally, the clinic is sticking to its guns by suing the health department for refusing to renew its license, CNN reports.

“We believe continuing to force an additional invasive and uncomfortable vaginal exam on patients at least three days before her abortion procedure, when it is not medically indicated, and when she will have the identical exam on the day of the abortion procedure, is not patient-centered; it is disrespectful and dehumanizing,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the St. Louis clinic.

This study, released Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute, reveals statistics that are stark and depressing. It revealed that 59 percent of reproductive-age women in the U.S. (at least 40 million women) live in states that are largely anti-abortion.

And that’s not all. While states like Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio have recently passed aggressively anti-abortion laws, other states have passed laws that force women to jump through major hoops, making it nearly impossible for them to obtainโ€” and for clinics to provide abortions.

Fortunately, despite all these restrictions, Planned Parenthood is persevering, notes writer and attorney Amee Vanderpool. The agency has a new women’s health clinic on the books for Birmingham, Alabama, regardless of the draconian anti-choice bill that doesn’t provide exceptions for rape or incest.

“The purpose for the continued construction,” Vanderpool writes, “is to make sure the clinic opens on schedule and in opening a clinic that provides abortion, allow for a series of challenges to the Alabama abortion ban in state court.”

If the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic closes, Missouri will effectively step back into the time before Roe v. Wade, becoming the only state in the entire country that doesn’t provide abortions. Meaning that once again, women in Missouri won’t have the right to govern their own bodies.

Featured image courtesy of the video above