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University of Missouri strips privileges from Planned Parenthood doctor

The executive committee of the medical staff of University of Missouri Health Care decided to revoke the hospital privileges of the only doctor in Columbia offering abortions. Without the privileges, no one in Columbia will legally be able to provide an abortion.
The executive committee of the medical staff of University of Missouri Health Care decided to revoke the hospital privileges of the only doctor in Columbia offering abortions. Without the privileges, no one in Columbia will legally be able to provide an abortion. File photo by The Star

Facing increasing pressure from Republican state lawmakers, the University of Missouri announced it will no longer grant hospital privileges to the only doctor providing abortion services at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia.

Without “refer and follow privileges,” Colleen McNicholas cannot legally perform abortions in Columbia. The decision, made by the executive committee of the medical staff of University of Missouri Health Care, will be effective Dec. 1.

The move was prompted by inquiries by Republican lawmakers, who questioned whether the publicly funded university should be associating with Planned Parenthood.

Under state law, a doctor can only perform abortions if he or she has clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortions are taking place.

Officials with Planned Parenthood condemned lawmakers for pushing the university to strip McNicholas of her privileges.

“This is a continuation of the orchestrated attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion in Missouri and to the critical services Planned Parenthood has provided for nearly 100 years,” Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said in a statement.

Just last week, the University of Missouri announced it would no longer allow students to train at Planned Parenthood facilities, a program that had existed for decades.

All this comes on the heals of a pair of state legislative committees tasked with investigating whether Planned Parenthood clinics in Missouri were selling fetal tissue, a claim Planned Parenthood vehemently denies. The House and Senate committees expanded their investigation into the Columbia Planned Parenthood facility when it was announced it was resuming abortions after having ceased performing the procedures for several years.

“This joyous outcome is proof positive that these committee investigations matter and the result will have eternal significance,” said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican who chaired one of the committees investigating Planned Parenthood.

Schaefer has had several run-ins with his hometown university this year. Most recently, he’s called into question the school’s decision to grant leave to a law professor who is running against Schaefer in the Republican primary for state attorney general.

After Dec. 1, the only Missouri facility performing elective abortions will be in St. Louis, although abortions are performed just across the state line in clinics in Overland Park and Granite City, Ill.

To reach Jason Hancock, call 573-634-3565 or send email to jhancock@kcstar.com.

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