An administrative panel ruled Friday that the last abortion clinic in Missouri may continue operating while its lapsed license is disputed in court.
According to The Hill, Missouri's Administrative Hearing Commission granted the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis its latest reprieve June 28, allowing it to continue operating without a license until at least August, when the next hearing in the dispute is scheduled.
The license of the Planned Parenthood clinic was set to expire May 31, but Judge Michael F. Stelzer of Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis ruled that the clinic could temporarily stay open while its licensure was debated. That temporary stay was again extended at least two more times by Stelzer, who said that the clinic could remain open until the administrative panel’s decision was given.
Planned Parenthood sued the state of Missouri May 28 after the state’s health department declined to renew the clinic’s license. Representatives of the clinic have argued that there is no valid reason for state rules that mandate two pelvic exams before the administration of abortion-inducing drugs. It has also rejected state demands that officials interview its medical trainees on staff.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services rejected a license renewal request June 21 from the clinic, citing an “unprecedented lack of cooperation, failure to meet basic standards of patient care, and refusal to comply with state law and regulations.”
A 2016 report on an inspection of the clinic, the most recent available through CheckMyClinic.org, shows that the clinic at that time was in violation of multiple state standards involving the sterilization and storing of equipment, and the proper documentation of medication and procedures. Also among the state concerns are four botched abortions reported at the clinic.
While the state health department had demanded hearings with some doctors in residence at the Planned Parenthood clinic as part of its investigation, Stelzer ruled in early June that the state could not hold interviews of non-Planned Parenthood employees as a requirement for licensure.
The Hill reports that the next hearing in the case is scheduled Aug. 1.
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