US state’s only abortion clinic could close down by the end of the week

The only abortion clinic in Missouri could close by the end of the week because the state is threatening to not renew its licence, it has been claimed.

Planned Parenthood staff say the current licence for its St Louis facility expires on Friday.

If it is not renewed, Missouri will become the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision.

A pro-life campaigner attempts to give out information outside the clinic in Missouri
Image: A pro-life campaigner attempts to give out information outside the clinic in Missouri

Dr Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: “This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is real and it’s a public health crisis.”

She added that a lawsuit has been filed to try and keep the St Louis clinic open.

Planned Parenthood said the state told officials it was investigating “a large number of possible deficiencies”.

The state wanted to interview seven physicians, but the organisation said only the two staff physicians agreed to be interviewed.

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Those interviews were due to take place on Tuesday.

Missouri is among half a dozen states that have passed sweeping anti-abortion measures.

Mr Parson, a Republican, signed a bill on Friday banning abortions on or beyond the eighth week of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Doctors who violate the eight-week cut-off could face five to 15 years in prison under the Missouri law that comes into force on 28 August.

Women who terminate their pregnancies cannot be prosecuted.

If the Missouri facility closes, the nearest clinic performing abortions is in a suburb of Kansas City about 260 miles (420km) away.

Erin King, executive director of a clinic in nearby Illinois, said in a statement: “While the state of Missouri is waging a war against its abortion services and providers, the Hope Clinic remains committed to the patients of Missouri.”

Pro-abortion campaigners outside Alabama State Capitol
Image: Pro-abortion campaigners demonstrate outside the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery

Dr Wen said Missouri has “illegally weaponised the licensing process”.

Colleen McNicholas, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Planned Parenthood office in St Louis, called it the “natural consequence of several decades of restriction after restriction”.

Ms McNicholas: “This is precisely what we’ve been warning of.”

Alabama’s governor signed a bill on 15 May making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

Supporters have said they hope to provoke a legal challenge that will eventually force the US Supreme Court to revisit its landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalised abortion nationally.

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Unlike Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, lawmakers who helped draft the Missouri bill say it is meant to withstand court challenges instead of spark them.

If the eight-week ban is struck down, the bill includes a ladder of less-restrictive time limits at 14, 18 or 20 weeks.

Missouri’s bill also includes an outright ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergencies, but that would kick in only if Roe v Wade is overturned.

Missouri Right to Life called it “the strongest pro-life bill in Missouri history”.

Source: SKY NEWS

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