ST. LOUIS, Missouri – A court issued an injunction on Friday preventing Missouri authorities from shutting down the last remaining abortion clinic in this state in the central United States.
The Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis will remain open at least until June 4, Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ruled, granting the organization’s request for a restraining order.
“A state court just blocked Missouri’s egregious attempt to eliminate abortion access in the state. Today, Missourians can breathe a sigh of relief as abortion care will continue in the state, for now,” Planned Parenthood said on Twitter.
The clinic’s license was set to expire on Friday and state authorities said they would not renew the permit unless the physicians working at the facility submitted to interviews about purported “deficiencies.”
While some of the doctors have answered questions from regulators, others are reluctant to expose themselves to potential criminal charges in light of Missouri’s adoption last week of legislation banning abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood accuses the state government of making frequent, arbitrary changes to the licensing requirements with the sole aim of generating pretexts to deny the application for license renewal.
Increasingly stringent regulation of abortion providers has driven every other abortion clinic in Missouri out of business.
Missouri’s new restrictive abortion law, which is set take effect at the end of August, does not include exceptions for rape and incest.
It is similar to legislation enacted in states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Ohio.
Another state, Louisiana, is on the verge of passing a law restricting access to abortion.
Supporters of the anti-abortion bills acknowledge they are likely to be struck down by the federal courts and that their real purpose is to bring the matter before the US Supreme Court, which they hope will overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that established a right for women to terminate a pregnancy.
“Today is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over,” Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.