Planned Parenthood clinics in SW Missouri will offer abortions

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Planned Parenthood says a federal judge’s ruling will let its clinics in Springfield and Joplin help women who want medicine-induced 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 of 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. A Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis is the only site in Missouri that offers abortions.

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

Two people have personal stories directly tied to abortions.

Abbie Hebron's mother was told to have an abortion by her doctor but chose not to. Dylyn Florence's mother had an abortion when it was illegal before the Roe-v-Wade ruling and he says it was a very traumatic experience for her.

Hebron says bringing abortions back to Springfield is a bad thing.

"To have an abortion facility here would make it a lot easier for women to choose abortion and my whole goal is to try to give them a different option it's still an option I know," Hebron says.

But, Florence supports making abortion an option here again.

"Having access to basic healthcare services like the ones that Planned Parenthood provides like birth control and other healthcare devices actually reduces the need for abortion," Florence says.

"I really hope that it doesn't happen here because it is a really hard and scary procedure and to see that women might be negatively affected by that make it really hard to support that," Hebron says.

"It's a move forward for Springfield...this is all about providing safe healthcare services to women and we do not want to go back to the days where women were having to find unsafe medical professionals to do these procedures for them," Florence says.

It's unclear when Planned Parenthood will begin offering medicine-induced abortion services.

In response to the decision, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens tweeted "Missouri is a pro-life state. We will beat this on appeal and keep fighting every day to protect the innocent unborn."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.