Judge Michael Stelzer has kept an injunction in place, allowing a Missouri clinic to continue operating until the state makes a final decision.
Judge Michael Stelzer, appointed to his post by Governor Jay Nixon, has left in place an injunction that is blocking the closure of Missouri’s last abortion clinic even though state health officials have refused to renew its license. Therefore, for now, the clinic is still operating. Stelzer said it be days before the court would come to a decision on whether the state could close the abortion clinic, operated by Planned Parenthood, for good.
“I think you guys are expecting an order soon. I don’t know that order is going to be today,” Stelzer reportedly said during the hearing before upholding the injunction.
Missouri is one of a dozen states to pass new laws restricting abortion access, slated to take effect in 2019. Some of the laws have been put into place, it seems apparent, to force the U.S. Supreme Court to review 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a woman’s right to choose to end her pregnancy. The landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution “provides a fundamental right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s decision to discontinue it.
M’Evie Mead of Planned Parenthood praised the judge’s decision. “We will continue to fight for our ability to deliver high-quality, patient-centered health care, and that includes the full range of reproductive health care,” she said.
“This decision signals the true motive behind this license renewal mess that has left patients in limbo, uncertain about their health care: to ban abortion without ever overturning Roe v. Wade,” Dr. Colleen McNicholas, a physician at Planned Parenthood’s Missouri clinic, said.
Missouri forced the closure of its second abortion clinic in Columbia back in 2018. The facility was unable to secure physician and hospital admitting privileges to comply with state requirements. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Missouri health officials after receiving warning that the Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis license would not be renewed. The state had claimed the clinic didn’t meet their standards for operating.
After the injunction was put into place, Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, said, “This is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over. We have seen just how vulnerable access to abortion care is in Missouri and in the rest of the country. We’ll keep fighting these attempts to end access to healthcare, no matter what.”
The whole battle in Missouri began after Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill on May 24 banning abortion starting in the eighth week of pregnancy, including cases that involve rape and incest. The only exception to this is includes cases in which the mother’s life is at risk or she faces a serious permanent injury as a result of continuing the pregnancy. This decision was met with criticism from women’s rights advocates. The law is scheduled to take effect August 28. If the Planned Parenthood clinic were to close, Missouri would become the only U.S. state without a legal abortion clinic.